I just wanted to share some of the highlights from the cultural design talk Erik Dahl gave at the interaction conference.  There is supposed to be a place where you can download the slideshows from each presenter, so once I find that if Erik’s is there I’ll share it.  Hopefully this doesn’t seem to disjoint, and maybe Marie can add more from her notes in the next few days, but here it goes.

He began by saying that technology affect the culture of our lives.  He gave an example of the “phone stack” game, where you go to lunch, everyone stacks their phones, and the first person to touch one has to buy lunch.  This type of game highlights how technology has changed this thing that hung on our walls to something we have a dependence on now.

He continued to talk about how a good design(product) should be a window that let’s you experience life more richly.  He was advocating that we need to use culture in our designs so that they become not just things we have, but things that enrich our lives.

He had 3 building blocks of culture which were:

1. Patterns- these let us see culture, they are they form or syntax of culture

2. Stories- culture is a set of stories we tell ourselves, about ourselves.  Stories are sense-making.  They tell who we are, and how the world works.  Stories help us understand culture, they are the semantics of culture.

3.  Interpretation- we need to make complex connections, interpretations help us know, they are the pragmatics of culture.

He also talked about how culture is generative and that culture is a type of performance.  Culture is a behavior.

The idea of enculturation is that we learn culture through doing.  So if we read a fashion magazine and pick up clothing tips, then dress in that way, that is a form of enculturation.

Meaning making is culture.  So using a cultural lens allows us as designers to create what culture needs and what world we want to live in.

So all of this is just some of the notes I got from Erik’s talk which was quite good.   There is a ton I missed though.  Feel free to comment or ask questions if something isn’t clear from that.

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