Page 1

eighth international conference on

cultural attitudes towards technology and communication 2012 edited by

michele strano herbert hrachovec fay sudweeks charles ess


Cultural Attitudes towards Technology and Communication 2012 Proceedings of the Eighth International Conference on Cultural Attitudes towards Technology and Communication Aarhus, Denmark, 18-20 June 2012

edited by

Michele Strano

Bridgewater College, USA

Herbert Hrachovec

University of Vienna, Austria

Fay Sudweeks

Murdoch University, Australia

Charles Ess

Aarhus University, Denmark


Eighth International Conference on Cultural Attitudes towards Technology and Communication 2012 Aarhus, Denmark, 18-20 June 2012 International Organizers Chair Charles Ess, Aarhus University, Denmark and Drury University, USA Honorary Chair Fay Sudweeks, Murdoch University, Australia Program Chairs Michele Strano, Bridgewater College, USA Herbert Hrachovec, University of Vienna, Austria Executive Committee Jose Abdelnour Nocera (University of West London, UK) Ylva H책rd af Segerstad (Gothenburg University, Gothenburg, Sweden) Leah Macfadyen, University of British Columbia, Canada Kenneth Reeder (University of British Columbia, Canada) Andra Siibak (University of Tartu, Estonia) Maja van der Velden, University of Oslo, Norway

Sponsors Media Studies, Department of Aesthetics and Communication, Aarhus University, Denmark Drury University, USA School of Information Technology, Murdoch University, Australia University of Vienna, Austria Bridgewater College, USA

Cover photo: Charles Ess: Old and New Technologies, Danish style

ISBN 978-1-921877-02-5 PUBLISHED 2012 School of Information Technology Murdoch University, Murdoch WA 6150 Australia catac@it.murdoch.edu.au, www.catacconference.org


TABLE OF CONTENTS Preface

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Online Political Engagement Social media and political participation in Saudi Arabia: The case of the 2009 floods in Jeddah

1

Y. Al-Saggaf

Using digital art to make the tensions between capital and commons transparent: Innovation in shaping knowledge of Internet business practices as a form of cultural knowledge

16

C. Kampf, G. Cox

Gaza as Panopticon and Panspectron: The disciplining and punishing of a society

25

M. Dahan

Making Identity Visible The making of online identity: The use of creative method to support young people in their reflection on age and gender

38

P. Hernwall, A. Siibak

Participatory, visible and sustainable: Designing a community website for a minority group

51

A. G. Sabiescu, M. Agosti, P. Paolini

Chahta Sia “I Am Choctaw”: Using images as a methodology for cultural and technological discourse

67

M. L. Kaarst-Brown, J. Dolezal

Use, Adaptation and Interpretation I A pyramid of cultural markers for guiding cultural-centered localized website design

84

A. Mushtaha, O. De Troyer

“It is magic”: A global perspective on what technology means to youth

100

E. Buehler, F. Alayed, A. Komlodi, S. Epstein

On the myth of a general national culture: Making visible specific cultural characteristics of learners in different educational contexts in Germany

105

T. Richter, H. Adelsberger

Repeating an experiment from the USA as a cultural probe into experiences of computer usage in Jordan 121 F. Ali El-Qirem, G. Cockton

New Technology and Learning Student perspectives on m-learning for local cultural studies in Malaysia

135

S. A. Ariffin, L. E. Dyson

A longitudinal study on the effect of hypermedia on learning dimensions, culture and teaching evaluation

146

C. Lee, F. Sudweeks, Y. W. Cheng

Promoting intercultural competence by means of blended learning D. Todorova

163


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TABLE OF CONTENTS

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) as a tool for intercultural education: A collaborative experience in secondary education in Tlapa de Comonfort, Guerrero, Mexico

174

L. Lazos-Ramírez, R. Feltrero-Oreja, X. Rueda-Romero, J. C. García Cruz

In/Visibility Discussion Panel In/Visibility in the internet’s third age

187

L. Green, H. Hrachovec, K. Sorensen, M. van der Velden

Online User Visibility Managment It’s all a matter of “choice”: Understanding society’s expectations of older adult ICT use from a birth cohort perspective

193

J. L. H. Birkland, M. L. Kaarst-Brown

In/Visible bodies: On patients and privacy in a networked world

199

M. van der Velden

In/Visibility of LGBTQ people in the Arab Spring: Making LGBTQ voices heard

212

D. Kreps

Narratives countering the democratising ideal of discourse in an online forum of a higher education institution

228

L. Postma, A. S. Blignaut, E. A. Sutinen, K. Swan

Online Community and Social Action Collectivism as potlatch in the network age

244

T. Iitaka

The limitations and possibilities of co-creation in the public domain in Rotterdam

259

L. Nordeman, E. Visser

Building an online community in the context of an existing social network site

270

C. Witney, L. Green, L. Costello, V. Bradshaw

Lipdubs as an instrument to overcome invisibility in the mass-media: A study of four enthusiastic cases made in Quebec, USA, Catalonia and Basque Country

284

T. Ramirez de la Piscina

Online User Interaction Goffman bitches: Rhetorical attribution and the perversion of meaning

304

K. Alstam

Post borders: Informal bilingual blogging and intercultural communication competence

319

M. Parisien, K. Reeder, L. Gunderson

Two screen viewing and social relationships: Exploring the invisible backchannel of TV viewing

333

M. D. Johns

Regional languages on Wikipedia: Venetian Wikipedia community interaction over time A. Zelenkauskaite, P. Massa

344


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Online Community Reflecting upon the challenges of building online community, or: ‘A techie’s guide to the help dummies need’

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359

L. Costello, L. Green

Firewatch: Use of satellite imagery by remote communities in Northern Australia for fire risk communications

372

D. Brady, D. Holloway, L. Green

The hidden side of transparency among government agency bloggers

383

A. Agderal-Hjermind

Use, Adaptation and Interpretation II E-learning as a cultural artifact: An empirical study of Iranian virtual institutions

393

D. Masoumi, B. Lindström

Exploring cultural differences in HCI education

410

J. Abdelnour-Nocera, A. Austin, M. Michaelides, S. Modi, C. Oyugi

Factors influencing perceptions toward social networking websites in China 420 W. Gong

Factors Impacting Visible Content Globalization or localization? A longitudinal study of successful American and Chinese online store websites

430

G. Zhang, S. C. Herring

How visible will our history be?

446

J. Knight

Locally situated digital representation of indigenous knowledge: Co-constructing a new digital reality in rural Africa

454

H. Winschiers-Theophilus, K. Jensen, K. Rodil

Regulating Visibility Copyright, culture and community in virtual worlds

469

D. L. Burk

Robots and privacy in Japanese, Thai and Chinese cultures: Discussions on robots and privacy as topics of intercultural information ethics in the ‘Far East’

478

M. Nakada

Parents’ views and rules about technology: As told by their middle school children in Hungary and India

493

K. E Weaver, A. Komlodi, J. Wang, K. Joshi, B. Sellei

Exposure to online sexual materials and cross-country differences in Europe

502

A. Šev íková, J. Šerek, H. Machá ková

Censoring, censuring or empowering?: Young people and digital agency

514

L. R. Green

Author Index

530


PREFACE The papers in this volume represent the Eighth International Conference on Cultural Attitudes Towards Technology and Communication (CATaC’12), held June 18-20, 2012 in Aarhus, Denmark. CATaC’12 both built upon the precedents and foundations of previous CATaC conferences while also seeking to move into new areas and directions of scholarship and research, as captured in the conference title “Beyond the digital/cultural divide: In/visibility and new media.” This meant that, on the one hand, a number of questions, themes, and topoi continued to be represented while also being explored and developed in new ways. To begin with, our two keynote speakers – Rasha Abdulla (Egypt) and Randi Markussen (Denmark) – took up the theme of the democratization potentials (and pitfalls) of computer-mediated communication, a theme that emerged as a critical one in some of the earliest discussions and investigations of the then-young Internet. At the same time, Rasha’s keynote address provided us with an eyewitness account of the importance of social media such as Twitter and Facebook in the Egyptian revolution of 2011; Randi Markussen focused on e-voting technologies and their anti-democratic potentials as seen from especially Scandinavian perspectives. These two addresses thereby further instantiated our commitment to fostering a genuinely global exploration of culture, technology, and communication. Similarly, other themes familiar from previous CATaC conferences received fresh views and new developments; for example, in the areas of website design, e-learning, ICTs and social action, and cross-cultural approaches to such issues as copyright. In addition to our characteristic attention to diverse cultural domains – from Saudi Arabia and Iran to Malaysia and Japan, to Indigenous peoples in a number of countries – so a number of conference presentations likewise continued our tradition of attending to diverse cohorts, ranging from young people to the elderly, online communities per se, and so forth. By the same token, our thematic and critical attention to concepts of ‘culture’ (and the limitations of these) was helpfully extended by a number of contributions. At the same time – and as we had hoped – our conference thematic attracted a number of new emphases, ones that often reflected on-going developments of ICTs beyond the now common focus on social media. These included, for example, a discussion of diverse cultural conceptions of privacy vis-à-vis the (growing) use of robots. More broadly, no less than 5 out of the 12 sections of conference presentations collected here address visibility and invisibility in a variety of contexts and venues. In these ways, then, CATaC’12 both sustains and expands upon our hallmark goals, characteristics and approaches as a conference and community of scholars and researchers. Once again, we have met to explore together some of the best and most current work at the intersections of ‘culture’, technology, and communication. Once again, we have enjoyed a distinctive conviviality and informality that are, let us be frank, a refreshing change from many academic conferences. Once again, we have been inspired to both appreciate the growing body of research, scholarship, and reflection


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PREFACE

that constitutes much of the foundational work in these domains, and to look forward to new directions of exploration – directions we plan to showcase at CATaC’14. As this spread of topics, approaches, emphases and findings suggests, the work of the Program Committee for CATaC’12 was exceptionally demanding. Hence our first thanks go to Program Chair Michele Strano and the Program Committee made up by Herbert Hrachovec, Leah Macfadyen, Fay Sudweeks and Maja van der Velden. We are further grateful to the conference presenters and participants who made the journey to Aarhus, “the city of smiles” (Smilensby), and whose engagements across the three days of the conference thus constituted a remarkably fruitful and enjoyable time of discovering new insights, undertaking new dialogues, and inspiring new collaboration possibilities. Likewise, we thank our sponsoring universities, beginning with our host, Aarhus University, which provided an excellent conference venue along with critical support and facilities. In particular, the Department of Media Studies (Institute of Aesthetics and Communication) sponsored the opening reception that provided a relaxing conclusion to our first day of presentations while fostering further informal conversations and networking. Melody Sanders and the Drury University Office of Marketing and Communication were crucial to our registration processes. We are equally grateful to Murdoch University, the University of Vienna, and Bridgewater College for their supporting the critical participation of Fay Sudweeks, Herbert Hrachovec, and Michele Strano, respectively. Charles Ess Aarhus University, Denmark


PREFACE

International Program Review Committee Jose Abdelnour-Nocera, University of West London, UK Yeslam Al-Saggaf, Charles Sturt University, Australia Josu Amezaga, Universidad del País Vasco, Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea, Basque Country Peng Ang, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore Edorta Arana, University of the Basque Country, Basque Country Beverly Bickel, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, USA Bradley Bowers, Barry University, USA Erin Buehler, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, USA Sourav Chatterjee, Development Bank of Singapore, India Laurel Dyson, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia Charles Ess, Aarhus University, Denmark Gordon Fletcher, The University of Salford, UK Wen Gong, Howard University, USA Lelia Rosalind Green, Edith Cowan University, Australia Patrik Hernwall, Stockholm University, Sweden Herbert Hrachovec, University of Vienna, Austria Michelle L. Kaarst-Brown, Syracuse University, USA Luz Lazos Ramírez, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico Leah Macfadyen, The University of British Columbia, Canada Davoud Masoumi, University of Gothenburg, Sweden Makoto Nakada, University of Tsukuba, Japan Matthew Lawrence Parisien, University of British Columbia, Canada Miguel Angel Perez Alvarez, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico Kenneth Reeder, University of British Columbia, Canada Thomas Richter, University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany Anna Šev íková, Masaryk University, Czech Republic Andra Siibak, University of Tartu, Estonia Martin Skladany, Caux Round Table, USA Michele Strano, Bridgewater College, USA Panayiota Tsatsou, Swansea University, UK Maja van der Velden, University of Oslo, Norway Heike Winschiers-Theophilus, Polytechnic of Namibia Asta Zelenkauskaite, Indiana University, USA

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M. Strano, H. Hrachovec, F. Sudweeks and C. Ess (eds). Proceedings Cultural Attitudes Towards Technology and Communication 2012, Murdoch University, Australia, 1-15.

SOCIAL MEDIA AND POLITICAL PARTICIPATION IN SAUDI ARABIA: THE CASE OF THE 2009 FLOODS IN JEDDAH YESLAM AL-SAGGAF School of Computing and Mathematics and Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics (CAPPE) Charles Sturt University Locked Bag 588, Boorooma Street, Wagga Wagga NSW 2678, Australia

Abstract. The aim of this study was to explore the use of social media for political participation in Saudi Arabia taking the case of the Jeddah 2009 floods as an example. Data were collected for this qualitative study between 2010 and 2012 and were analyzed with the help of NVivo, a software for qualitative data analysis. The study followed the principles of thematic analysis to analyze 40 posts and the readers’ comments on them from YouTube, Facebook, an online community, and Al Arabiya site. The findings of this study show that people used social media to express their feelings and emotions about the loss of lives, express their opinions about what happened and call for action about what should happen or organize themselves to take part in volunteer work. The results of this research contribute to an understanding of the role of social media in encouraging political participation in countries where participation in public affairs in some cases is not encouraged and in others, for example, street protests is not permitted.

1. Introduction The 2009 floods in Jeddah, which occurred on 25 November, were one of the worst and most destructive floods in the history of the city with the official death toll reaching 116 people. In addition to claiming the lives of these people, the floods also wrecked more than 4000 cars and made homeless more than 1200 families causing the damage bill to run into the millions. In response, hundreds, if not thousands, of internet users took it upon their shoulders to document what happened by posting videos on YouTube describing the events as they unfolded. They also managed to steer the government’s attention to the disaster by expressing their feelings, opinions and criticisms on Facebook, political online communities and on Al1 Arabiya site. More importantly, they used Facebook to call for action to be taken to remedy the situation or to punish the responsible or by organizing themselves to help with the rescue efforts. The aim of this study is to explore the use of social media for political participation in Saudi Arabia taking the 2009 floods in Jeddah as an example. 1

Al-‘ is the Arabic equivalent to ‘the’ in English.


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Y. AL-SAGGAF

Specifically the study will try to address the following research questions: RQ1: How did people use social media to cope with what happened during the floods in Jeddah in 2009? RQ2: How did people use social media to explain and understand what happened? RQ3: How did people use social media to demand changes be made in light of what happened? RQ4: In what way each type of social media differed with respect to the above questions? It is hoped answers to these questions will provide insight into the impact of social media on political participation in Saudi Arabia? The study is qualitative in nature. Data were collected for this study between 2010 and 2012. Following the principles of thematic analysis, the study analyzed a total of 40 complete posts and all the readers' comments on those items from YouTube, Facebook, an online community (Al-Saha al-Siyasia) and Al Arabiya site. The posts selected (10 from each site) were all related to the Jeddah 2009 floods (to find out more about how posts were selected see section 3 below). It is hoped the results of this research will contribute to a better understanding of the role of social media in encouraging political participation in countries where political participation is not encouraged. Saudis are among the biggest adopters of the internet in the Arab world. About 46 percent of the total population in Saudi Arabia use the internet (the total number of internet users in the country exceeds 13 million2). Social Network Sites (SNS) are among the most popular sites on the Saudi internet. According to most recent rankings from Alexa.com3, of the top 500 sites in Saudi Arabia, YouTube is ranked second from the top (in terms of the total number of page views) followed by Facebook in the third, Twitter in the ninth and Blogger in the tenth position, suggesting that social networking is one of the favourite internet activities among the internet users in the country. Indeed, millions of Saudis visit YouTube on a regular basis to find out what is going on in their country from sources other than the traditional media especially after the site has proven its effectiveness in presenting the facts supported by concrete evidence. Some of the episodes on YouTube that use wit humour to treat sensitive issues, such as those of ‘La Yekthar’ show, have crossed the two million views. Similarly, Saudis are well represented on Facebook. In fact, Saudis are the second biggest adopters of Facebook4. There are 4.9 million Saudis on Facebook with a penetration rate of 19.1%.5 While in 2010 (the year this study started), Twitter was not yet popular, today Saudis are the biggest adopters of Twitter in the Arab world with 38% of all Arab twitters6 are coming from Saudi Arabia.7 Saudis have always been active on online communities. Political online communities, in particular, give ordinary individuals from all backgrounds the opportunity to express themselves, steer the government’s attention to their problems and get their messages across to senior government officials (Al-Saggaf, Himma and Kharabsheh, 2008) thus overcoming the barrier of limitation on freedom of expression. It is believed some of the decisions relating to the latest economic reforms reflected the 2 http://www.citc.gov.sa/English/Reportsandstudies/Indicators/Indicators%20of%20Communications%20and %20Information%20Techn/Indicators%20Q3%202011-%20English%20-%20FINAL.PDF 3 http://www.alexa.com/topsites/countries/SA 4 http://www.alriyadh.com/2012/02/17/article710610.html 5 http://www.socialbakers.com/facebook-statistics/?interval=last-week#chart-intervals. 6 Persons who tweet 7 http://sabq.org/dIbfde.


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aspirations of the members of political online communities, especially Al-Saha alSiyasia, or are inspired by requests made specifically on Al-Saha al-Siyasia. Indeed, AlSaha al-Siyasia, which is the most popular online political community in Saudi Arabia, is often used by the government to gauge public opinion or feel the pulse of the people8. Similarly, Al Arabiya site is another popular destination for Saudis and one of the frequently accessed online media sites in the Arab world. According to Al Arabiya site, 21.60% of its audience comes from Saudi Arabia.9 The commentary service, which allows readers to comment on the articles published, is an exceedingly popular platform among the Arabs with many of the articles published on Al Arabiya site receiving more than 1000 comments from readers. The service is located at the end of each article allowing users to post their comments after they scroll down through all the replies to a particular article.

2. SNS and Political Participation: A quick look This section will first define online communities, SNS and political participation (as the three main concepts in this study), and then it will discuss briefly three studies that looked at political participation on social media. SNS and ‘online communities’ are very similar to each other. In fact, several computer mediated communication researchers view SNS as part of online communities; while some others see SNS as the latest trend in computer mediated communication. For the purpose of this paper an online community is defined as consisting of: (1) People who interact socially as they strive to satisfy their own needs or perform special roles such as leading or moderating. (2) A shared purpose such as interest, need, information exchange or service that provides a reason … [for the shared social interaction]10. (3) Policies in the form of tacit assumptions, rituals, protocols, rules and laws that guide people interaction. (4) Computer systems to support and mediate social interaction and facilitate a sense of togetherness” (Preece, 2000, p.10). Likewise, for the purpose of this paper, SNS will be defined as: Web-based services that allow individuals to (1) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, (2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection11, and (3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system (Boyd & Ellison, 2007, p.211).

8

http://81.144.208.20:9090/pdf/2004/08Aug/04AugWed/Quds19.pdf (Saudi Arabia withdraws its initiative practically. Retrieved August 4, 2004, from Al-Quds Al-Arabi Newspaper Website: http://www.alquds.co.uk/) 9 http://english.Al Arabiya.net/index/static/about_en 10 Words in brackets are not attributed to the author who is quoted 11 In the case of YouTube, a users channel’s subscribers are considered the list of connections.


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As can be seen while there is some similarity between the two concepts, Al-Saggaf (2011) takes the position of distinguishing between online communities and SNS in at least one important dimension. While the former, defined above, refer to sites that are dedicated to communities of interests, structured by topics or according to topical hierarchies, the latter revolve around people, not interests, with the individual at the centre of their own community. For more information about the characteristics of participation on Saudi online communities and on SNS see Al-Saggaf, Himma and Kharabsheh (2008) and Al-Saggaf (2011) respectively. With regards to the third concept, for the purpose of this paper, political participation is defined “as any act that is performed with intention of transmitting information about social preferences and issues to political decision makers and exerting pressure on these decision makers to pay attention to the demands being voiced” (Milbrath, 1965 cited in Quintelier and Hooghe, 2011). There are several studies that looked at the relationship between social media and political participation. A US study by Zhang and Chia (2006), for example, concluded that the relationship between internet use and political participation is a complicated one. While Zhang and Chia did not find a significant impact of internet use on political participation, they argued its influence has been underestimated and more research should be conducted to assess this influence. Bode (2008) also called for more research to confirm her findings which were, according to her, limited by the small sample12 she used. Nevertheless, unlike the previous study, hers found a significant impact of Facebook on political participation. Similarly, Zúñiga, Jung, and Valenzuela’s (2012) study, which also used US national data, found that seeking information via SNS is a positive and significant predictor of people’s social capital and civic and political participatory behaviors. While the results of Bode’s and Zúñiga, Jung, and Valenzuela’s studies differed from Zhang and Chia’s study, it is understandable given social media was not around in 2002 when Zhang and Chia’s study was conducted. It should be noted that although the current study collected qualitative data unlike all these studies which were quantitative in nature, its results are in line with the results of Bode’s and Zúñiga, Jung, and Valenzuela’s studies in that social media appeared capable of facilitating political participation.

3. Data Collection and Data Analysis To make sense of the data collected, this qualitative study followed the principles of the thematic analysis technique. This approach to data analysis allows analysts to code (mark) sections of text according to whether they appear to contribute to emerging themes or not (Patton, 2002). It is a process for encoding qualitative data, which requires an explicit code such as a list of themes. According to Boyatzis (1998, p.4), a theme is a pattern found in the data that at a minimum describes and organizes the possible observations and at a maximum interprets aspects of the phenomenon. Thematic analysis relies on the ability to see patterns in seemingly random data, which is what Boyatzis calls ‘pattern recognition’. There are three distinct stages in thematic 12

Undergraduate students of a university in US.


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analysis: stage one, deciding on sampling and design issues; stage two, developing themes and a code; and stage three, validating and using the code. Within the second stage there are three ways to develop a thematic code: a theory driven, prior data or prior research driven and inductive (i.e., from raw data) or data driven (Boyatzis, 1998, p.29). The themes developed for this study emerged from the raw data. Data collection proceeded as follows. A team of seven female undergraduate students was trained in using thematic analysis to collect and analyze qualitative data. After dividing the team into four groups, each group selected six posts and the responses to them from one of the sites they were assigned i.e. YouTube, Facebook, Al Arabiya site, and an online community (Al-Saha al-Siyasia). A post could be a topic for discussion (and the responses to it) on Facebook or on an online community or an article published on Al Arabiya site or a video posted on any of these sites or on YouTube. The author, on his own, also selected four posts and the responses to them from each of the four sites and analyzed them making the total number of posts analyzed 40. Posts selected for analysis were located by inserting “Jeddah 2009 floods� keywords (in Arabic) in the Google search engine search area. The results that appeared at the very top of the search results page were selected for analysis discarding only those posts related to the Jeddah 2011 floods13. That is, the posts related to the Jeddah 2011 floods were ignored. Upon viewing a YouTube video, or reading an article posted on Facebook, Al Arabiya site or the online community, a description of the content of that post was written in a Word document. Next all the responses to that post were carefully read and studied and then a representative sample of the comments (approximately 70 comments) or the ones that were illuminating in respect of the research questions or contrary to the assumed knowledge of the researchers were noted in the same Word document. The reasons not all the comments were noted in the Word document is because for each post there were hundreds of comments (most of the comments on YouTube videos, for example, exceed 700) making copying and pasting each comment very time consuming. For this reason all the comments were carefully read and studied online and a selected sample, as discussed above, was copied and pasted by the researchers into the same Word document so they can be used as quotations during the discussion of the findings. Finally, comments on the nature of interaction between the original author of the post and the respondents, or on the interaction between the respondents themselves were written in the Word document. These comments tried to provide opinions, perspectives and interpretations in relation to how the medium used facilitated political participation or how can an observation be explained from within the Saudi social, cultural and political contexts. Team members followed the following criteria when recording field notes: being objective, unbiased, and factual and recording only what happened, not what they thought or felt had happened. There was also emphasis on being systematic and detailed. The team collected and analysed their data under the supervision of the author. Data analysis was completed with the help of QSR NVivo 8, a software package for managing qualitative data, and was performed separately by each group i.e. each group, including the author, analysed their own data separately. The unit of analysis 13

On 26 January 2011, Jeddah experienced another major flooding.


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was each individual post and the responses to it. Data analysis proceeded as follows. First a new project was created in NVivo and all field notes documents were imported into NVivo. These field note documents included the raw data (the comments copied and pasted into the Word documents) and the comments made by the researchers. The documents were then read several times so the researchers could familiarize themselves with the data collected. Next, free nodes (i.e. nodes not organized or grouped) were created based on keywords in the field notes. The nodes represented themes that revolved around the main ideas in the text or the purpose or the objective from it, or a specific concept that emerged from the data or a pattern or trend in the data. Similar text within the field notes was then located and assigned to these nodes after thoroughly reading through the field notes and ensuring the text assigned captures the theme that the node represents (the themes, which emerged from the text, are the same as the nodes in NVivo). To illustrate this step, an example is used. Consider the following comment made in response to another that made fun of the people who drowned in a YouTube video posted during the event: you think this is cool? you think this is exciting ?!! will i hope next time you be in that water and having much more excitement you idiot! people died!! and you think this is exciting! STUPID. Here the theme developed from the keywords “you think this is cool” and “you idiot” was “expressing feelings of anger”. So this quotation was assigned to the ‘expressing feelings of anger’ node. The good thing about these nodes is that they acted as ‘buckets’ in the sense that they held all the data related to a specific theme. For example, all the quotations related to ‘expressing feelings of anger’ theme are placed under this node. At the end of the creation of the free nodes, the author merged all the projects into one, repeated the analysis of each free node, and analysed all free nodes including his jointly. Finally, theses free nodes were further divided into tree nodes. That is, broader categories were developed to group the free nodes. For example, ‘expressing feelings of anger’, ‘expressing deep sorrow’ and ‘praying for the dead’ were all grouped under the tree node ‘Expressing feelings and emotions’. The aim was to create a hierarchy that will make it easy to make sense of the data and facilitate interpretation.

4. Results 4.1. EXPRESSING FEELINGS AND EMOTIONS (RQ1) One of the things social media gave its users was the ability to express their feelings and emotions over the death of the flood victims. The expression of feelings and emotions was a salient feature that was observed in all the mediums chosen for study. Of course credit for capturing the incident and exposing the gravity of the problem should go to YouTube as it was the main media outlet used by people to compile evidence of what happened. People flooded YouTube with videos of the impact of the floods as the events unfolded. YouTube returned more than 4000 hits for the videos uploaded when ‘Jeddah catastrophe’ term (in Arabic) was searched. Whether people


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were discussing the flood victims on online communities, Facebook or Al-Arabiya site, the discussion often revolved around a YouTube video. One YouTube video, for example, captured a man fighting for his life in the water before managing to put his grip on the back of an air conditioner. Overcome by the strong current, which moved him from one side to the other, he eventually let go of his hand and disappeared in the water. The video which was taken by a female from the comfort of her bedroom, as stated in the description of the video, was also accompanied by sad background music. Hebah Al-Omari who selected this video for analysis and watched it said this video was … difficult to watch. I had to leave my computer several times from how overwhelming and horrifying it was. I felt every second of his pain, fear, and helplessness. Respondents’ comments varied. Many respondents wished for the presumed drowned man to go to Heaven in the hereafter. Others angrily said why did not the female assist the man instead of filming him as he drowned. Others blamed the man’s neighbours for not doing anything to help him. Yet, others said that there was nothing anyone could do to help and if people tried to rescue him they could have drown too. The prevailing feelings, however, were those of deep sadness over the loss of lives. Upon reflection, it is possible that expressing feelings and emotions in that way and ‘playing the blame game’ might have helped the participants cope with the trauma and overcome the feelings of grief and loss. Another way social media users used it to deal with the disaster and start the healing process and confront their feelings of survivor guilt (if any) was by telling their stories and sharing their personal experiences, which for many people these involved talking about their close encounters with death. Sharing personal experiences was useful for another reason. It educated others about what to do if they faced similar circumstances. For example, when someone told them that he witnessed a man being rescued by a winch driver, many commentators thought using the winch was a good idea and that from now on they would tell others about this idea. Another YouTube video captured a successful rescue attempt of a family stranded in their car. When a group of men saw a car swimming in the water, they formed a line and as the car approached them pulled the family members one by one until all of them were lifted to safety. While this story had a happy ending, the video also showed the struggle of other people in the water as the strong current swept them away. This video was accompanied by the Titanic song as background music. This video attracted many comments. The vast majorly of the comments applauded the bravery of the men who risked their lives to rescue the stranded family. This comment from one of the viewers typifies their responses: “Hey everyone I swear by Allah that tears fell from eyes for the bravery of these Africans and foreigners. Ya Allah (my Allah) see how badly we (Saudis) treat them (foreigners) and when in need the Saudis are the ones watching and the foreigners are the ones helping out”14. One participant questioned the wisdom of playing the Titanic song as background music when Quran would have been more appropriate. Indeed most of the other videos analysed were observed to have Quran or spiritual Islamic songs (Anasheeds) at the background which may suggest that this 14

Comments are not edited by the author.


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disaster might have in the case of some strengthened their relationship with Allah and in the case of others it awoke their sense of belonging to their religion. However, and interestingly, when some Saudi scholars blamed people’s sins for what happened claiming that what happened was a punishment from Allah, most of the social media users rejected this interpretation; while others expressed their frustrations with these scholars or their disappointment about their conclusions, which, in turn, is also interesting to note given, Muslims do believe that sometimes bad things happen to them because of their bad actions. There is also the belief in fate and destiny and that whatever calamity Muslims experience, it is preordained by Allah and that they should be patient when it happens to them to receive the reward from Allah. This raises an interesting question: does the use of social media encourage people to become less religious or more liberal in their thinking? Hopefully this question will be addressed in future research. On Facebook, videos that documented the story of the floods were also posted and shared. One video documented the disaster in Jeddah using a slideshow of disturbing images from the disaster and a voiceover narration running in the background which showed the author was very sad and upset about what happened. The vast majority of respondents appeared deeply moved by what they saw and expressed deep emotions of sadness as in the case of this person who said “I am an Egyptian, full of love for Jeddah and I am really heartbroken about what happened to it. May Allah be with you”. In addition, some expressed anger at those responsible for the disaster; others defended the government; others vented their fury over the deaths; some expressed deep sorrow over the loss of lives; some others expressed sympathy for those who lost loved ones; some lamented the absence of their right to live a ‘safe life’; and some promised to help those in need as much as they can. The respondents did not just come from Jeddah but rather from every part of Saudi Arabia as the profiles of participants had revealed suggesting this crisis might have encouraged citizens from different racial and religious backgrounds to be, on this occasion, more tolerant and caring towards each other. 4.2. EXPRESSING OPINIONS (RQ2) Social media gave its users the ability to express their opinions about those responsible for the floods in Jeddah freely. The call for the impeachment of the mayor of Jeddah (Adel Fakeh) by one of the members of a Facebook group is an example of the freedom of expression social media users enjoy. In a country where content disseminated from traditional media is censored and peaceful street protests are banned and freedom of expression to a large extent is limited, the issue of the impeachment of Mayer of Jeddah, which is a sensitive topic in nature, given he was a high profile senior government official, would not have been raised if it had not been for the decentralised nature of the social media and its many-to-many communication feature that made it effective in enabling social media users to express their views and reach others. While there were many comments with tens in favor and tens others against the idea, the interaction was predominately peaceful and the discussion was constructive and took the format of a highly intellectual debate that did not deviate from acceptable standards of conduct, albeit in one conversation two communicators engaged in fighting with each other. This may suggest that the members of this Facebook group although they


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disagreed with each other‘s ideas, their disagreement did not cause them to indulge in fights or flame wars or engage in sarcasms or attacks which are all common in discussions that take place on Al Arabiya site or YouTube (see examples of these below). The following comment encapsulates the theme of the continuous conversation that occurred between these members of this Facebook group. I have a Q, and I hope that somebody can answer me, so I could feel better. Why don't Jeddah bring people from Japan or the US or China to fix whatever problems we have In Jeddah??? 1- The rush hour and traffic 24 hours, no need to be smart which means we need another way of transportation to get around. 2- We need them to fix our swerge system. 3- we need them to fix our roads. The reason the interaction was more or less peaceful on Facebook could be due to the longevity and regularity of interaction between the group members. The continuous interactions among group members might have allowed genuine relationships to develop among them, despite the fact that some of these relationships operated solely online. Thus there might have been a cost associated with being rude in this case which might have made it difficult for these members to engage in fighting and flame wars. Rapping about the floods in Jeddah and uploading the music video into YouTube is another example that demonstrates that social media users do enjoy a high degree of freedom of expression. Rap music is very uncommon in Saudi Arabia. When Klash, one of the first artists to introduce this type of music in Saudi Arabia, included what then deemed to be defamatory language he was jailed for a year. While the attitude towards this music is probably not as bad as before, rap music does not appear on TV or radio in the same way other types of music appear and many of Klash's songs are blocked in the country due to their offensive nature and use of vulgar language. On YouTube, however, uploading rap music is easy to do and it appears these types of music attract thousands of people as evidenced by the fact that Klash’s song which documented the story of the Jeddah floods was viewed more than 1.2 million times. In this song Klash recorded his voice over a slideshow of the song lyrics and pictures from the disaster. In his song he first introduced Saudi Arabia and then described the catastrophe, that according to him, destroyed hundreds of lives, damaged thousands of cars and properties, scared women and children to death and left men stranded in the streets. He ended his song by calling for justice from those responsible, by thanking the volunteers who helped out in the aftermath of the disaster and by praying for the dead of Jeddah to rest in peace and for their families to find comfort in each other. The song was received very favorably by the viewers as evidenced by the number of comments viewers left at the bottom of the video (700 comments were submitted in total). The vast majority of the comments praised the artist and expressed deep admiration for the song and its lyrics. Some of the respondents’ comments which are illustrative of this category included “Iloveyou klash”; “that's great claaash”; “i love this song keep going bro in this way only you are our voice we are talking by you .i belive in you clash”; “that's amazing ... really”; “keep the good work going this is really heart touching”; “from east to west klash is the best”; “well done clash keep going


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baby”; “a salam aleikum, This song sounds just awesome !!!, dope !!!, i like it very much. a salam aleikum”. On the other hand, there were many comments that contained very abusive, offensive, inflammatory, and racist language. These comments were not related to the song; rather they were exchanges between the viewers of the song. Here is an example of these comments that should be considered barley inappropriate compared to the other more repugnant messages: “can u come to drive my car u seem (to be) a stupid driver hey man when you talk about saudi u have to say kingdom of saudi arabia we are saudi not like u poor *f-word* stupid jealous of us”. As mentioned above, the anonymity, lack of public self-awareness, and the medium’s lack of oral and non-verbal cues which cause abandonment of social inhibitions might have been the reason for members engaging in such exchanges. Online communities such as Al-Saha Al-Siyasia, which is by far the most widely spread online community in Saudi Arabia, witnessed very lively debates about what happened in Jeddah. On Al-Saha Al-Siyasia the members analyzed the causes that lead to the disaster in great depth. They looked at the causes from several angles. For example, some provided evidence that the areas affected in Jeddah are actually valleys and people should never have been allowed to build on them in the first place. Others claimed that what happened was actually punishment from Allah as discussed above. Likewise, a few thought it must have been punishment from Allah for the atrocities the Saudi army committed against the Al-Hothies in Yemen; others defended the government; yet others accused the Jeddah municipality of corruption and management misappropriation and of failing to put in place adequate infrastructure and implement the already budgeted and planned projects; blaming for what happened all the Jeddah mayors who served in this position over the past thirty years. 4.3. CALLING FOR ACTION (RQ3) Social media was very instrumental in facilitating a platform for people to call for action to be taken15. All social media sites chosen for this study (i.e. YouTube, Facebook, the online community and Al Arabiya) were observed enabling users to call for action to be taken. The results achieved from these calls for action were significant suggesting senior government officials might be monitoring social media closely. While not all the demands were met, several of these demands were implemented and the ones that were not accommodated, promises were made to study them. For example, while a solution to the problem of Al Musk Lake was not found at the time, local authorities later hired a consulting firm to propose a solution to that problem. Al Musk Lake, which is 40 km east of Jeddah, is where all the human waste (sewage water) at Jeddah gets dumped at. The lake was named Al Musk Lake by Jeddah residents to make fun of its horrible smell. Al Musk is a beautiful aromatic substance used commonly by Arabs as a traditional perfume. Each day 1200 water tankers empty their loads into the lake. After the downpours that caused the heavy flooding in Jeddah, water levels rose considerably. It is feared if the lake overflows due to another heavy rain fall, the impact on the four million city residents could be catastrophic. However, the problem of Al Musk Lake may soon be solved as a SR95 million-contract was 15

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/saudiarabia/6685083/Saudis-protest-on-Facebookover-government-handling-of-floods.html


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signed with a specialized company to undertake the drying up of the lake16. Plans to construct proper sewage systems and deal with surface water drainage and build dams that could stand future flooding were also announced and acted upon. On the other hand, several demands were implemented immediately. Ordering an investigation into what happened and prosecuting those responsible for the disaster was the main request that people made on social media. Upon this request being brought to his attention, King Abdullah immediately ordered the formation of an investigative committee, headed by the governor of Mecca Prince Khaled Al-Faisal himself, in the largest clampdown on corruption in Saudi Arabia’s history17. The independent investigative committee resulted in many police arrests of senior officials, some of them were stopped from traveling at the airport. They are still being tried as of the writing of this paper. King Abdullah also in 2011 established the National Anti-Corruption Commission and appointed a minister to head it and to report to him directly, so all government departments can be held accountable for their actions, and corruption in the government sector can be combated. With regards to the call for impeaching Adel Fakeh, while he was not impeached, as per people’s request, he was removed from his post albeit to a higher level position (he is now the Minister of Labor). The demand for financial compensation for the victims was also acted upon swiftly. For every person who died in the floods one million Saudi Riyal (approximately $266,666 USD) check was handed to his/her family. 116 checks were handed by court officials to the families of the 116 deceased persons whose names were made publicly known. Those whose houses were damaged were placed in temporary furnished accommodation. Those whose cars were damaged were given assistance to fix their cars or buy new ones. Similarly the request to honor Farman Ali Khan, a Pakistani expatriate who saved 14 people and then drowned before saving the 15th person, was also met. King Abdullah awarded him the King Abdul Aziz Medal of the First Order in appreciation of his heroic humanitarian act and a street in Jeddah was named after him18. His family also received a huge sum of money in recognition of his courage and sacrifice. It should be noted that while all these actions were taken in response to people’s demands, for obvious reasons there is no evidence in the traditional media that the government actually consulted social media regarding these measures. 4.4. SOCIAL MEDIA USAGE (RQ4) Social media enabled users to express their feelings and emotions in a language they are familiar with. For example, they wrote their comments in the way they talked i.e. using their own dialect or (slang Arabic). Some expressed themselves in English; others wrote their comments in Arabic but using English characters. The language of their comments also varied with some comments being written as if they were intended for a group of intellectuals gathered at a conference; other comments were very informal as if the author was talking to a group of his or her close friends. Rude and offensive comments were very common on YouTube and on Al Arabiya but less on Facebook and online 16

http://arabnews.com/saudiarabia/article542534.ece?service=print http://www.thenational.ae/news/world/middle-east/dozens-of-saudi-officials-held-overcorruption?pageCount=0 18 http://arabnews.com/saudiarabia/article524270.ece 17


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communities, because on Facebook and online communities the group members are mostly friends who might lose a lot by being disrespectful. This is in addition to the fact that content on online communities is monitored as it is on Al Arabiya site, albeit on Al Arabiya site only specific types of content are blocked if deemed inappropriate and rude comments are not among those types. Social media users expressed their opinions in the most convenient way to them. On YouTube, users uploaded videos that documented the incident while providing a voiceover narration at the background in which a description of what the video showed or in-depth analysis was given. Most of the backgrounds of the YouTube videos that described the floods in Jeddah included either recitations of the Quran or spiritual Islamic songs (Anasheeds) implying the disaster might have resulted in a religious awakening for some people. The videos were often followed by a commentary from the viewers. In some cases those who commented provided evidence that contradicted the content of the video either in the form of a textual comment or in some cases another video. On online communities, such as Al-Saha al-Siyasia, users searched for the truth as well as engaged in meaningful discussions that shaped the debate about what happened on November 25, 2009. It was on online communities that the story of Farman Ali Khan was first reported. Online communities are also credited for producing a list of all the former mayors of Jeddah and a list of all the people who died because of the floods which might have enhanced people’s understanding of those responsible for the floods and those who lost their lives because of them. On Facebook users launched campaigns that demanded actions to be taken by the government. The government, as discussed above, responded swiftly and took serious steps to meet those demands. On Facebook users organized the rescue efforts that made a significant positive impact on the lives of those affected in the aftermath of the floods. Prior to this crisis volunteerism was hardly practiced in the society. Moreover, organizing volunteer work on Facebook was a ‘first’ in the history of this country. On Facebook also, users expressed their opinions on the ‘walls’ of the special interest groups that they joined. For example, when a government supporter tried to find excuses for the Jeddah municipality, a member immediately posted a clipping from an old local newspaper article dated as back as 1981 that showed that a water drainage system for the city of Jeddah was on the agenda of the Municipality 30 years ago but that nothing has happened since then implying that not only the present mayor was corrupt but all former mayors were also corrupt. On Al Arabiya site, users posted comments to challenge the official version of the truth of the site by offering their own version of the truth on the site. Al Arabiya site was responsive. For example, when readers criticized, during their discussion of one of the Al Arabiya site articles, the Presidency of Meteorology and Environment report that stated that the weather was fine on the day of the flashfloods, Al Arabiya site discussed this issue in a separate article on its site. In addition, Al Arabiya site has been observed to take several of their news items from online communities including the story of Farman Ali Kahn and the list of all the former mayors of Jeddah which both appeared first on online communities. This suggests that online communities and social media, which people have control over, did not only make them authors of media content


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instead of being a passive audience, as before, but also made what they produced newsworthy for traditional media.

5. Discussion and Conclusion The aim of this study was to explore the use of social media for political participation in Saudi Arabia taking the 2009 floods in Jeddah as an example. Specifically the study tried to address the following research questions: How did people use social media to cope with what happened during the floods in Jeddah in 2009 (RQ1)? How did people use social media to explain and understand what happened (RQ2)? How did people use social media to demand changes be made in light of what happened (RQ3)? In what way each type of social media differed with respect to the above questions (RQ4)? The findings of this study show that people used social media to express their feelings and emotions (particularly to grieve the loss of lives or vent anger at those responsible), express their opinions (mainly to explain and understand what happened and why), and call for action (specifically to seek justice for the victims and or to organize themselves before they went to the streets of Jeddah to help with the rescue efforts). The findings in this study appear to accord with the literature. That the individuals used social media to express their feelings and emotions, as this study has shown, has also been reported previously. Young (2009) study, for example, showed that 40% of the study participants regularly updated their status/feelings on Facebook. In addition, 29% of the participants considered the ability to express oneself as an important outcome of their experience on SNS. Similarly, the current study finding that individuals used SNS to express their opinions is also supported in the literature. AlSaggaf (2011), for example, found that one way in which females in Saudi Arabia use to express opinions of political nature is by the mere joining of Facebook groups. Berns and Chau (2006) also found that individuals used the social media site they studied effectively to communicate ideas, opinions and information about civic life. As for the finding relating to calling for action, Al-Saggaf and Weckert (2006) found that their participants used online communities to criticize a crucial political decision, reach a consensus regarding it among themselves, and communicate their opposing views about it to government officials which, in a few cases, triggered the government action. Similarly, Harlow and Harp (2012) found that their participants (in US and Latin America) used SNS for both online activism and offline activism including to pressure decision makers. Unlike in the case of Saudis where offline activism is not permitted and social media is one of a very few alternatives to call for action, in the case of the participants in Harlow and Harp (2012) study, social media was used to enhance traditional offline means not to replace them. With regards to the longevity and regularity of interaction in making the communication on Facebook more or less peaceful, these have been found to be the main reason for less fighting and flame wars in online communities (Al-Saggaf, Himma and Kharabsheh, 2008). On the other hand, the anonymity, lack of public self-awareness, and the medium’s lack of oral and nonverbal cues on YouTube and Al Arabiya site which, according to Joinson (1998) and


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Mar (2000), cause abandonment of social inhibitions might have been the reason for members engaging in fighting and flame wars. The findings need to be considered in light of the following limitations. First, the results are limited to the four sites studied and should not be generalised to other social media sites like Twitter19. Second, the results are limited to the sample used (the 40 posts and the responses to them) and should not be generalised to the rest of the content about the Jeddah 2009 floods. Third, since in the case of Al Arabiya site, the respondents do not need to register to post comments, their identity could not be verified which does raise the issue of the authenticity of respondents and the potential for deception. Nevertheless, this study should be considered significant given it will, hopefully, pave the way for future research about the impact of social media on the political landscape in Saudi Arabia particularly after these sites have proven to be very effective in encouraging the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and Syria. Some interesting questions include: can these sites facilitate a public sphere for the Saudis? If yes, what is the effect of this public sphere on the relationship between state and society? Can these sites facilitate civic engagement that will eventually cause substantial social changes in the country to occur? Only further research can reveal the answers to these questions. In a region where internet is largely censored, freedom of expression is limited and traditional media is controlled by governments, social media offers users an attractive alternative to discuss politics with each other and express their opinions about what is happening in their country. The opportunity to comment on what is posted on these sites allowed users to not only discuss issues that concern them as a group but also enabled them to contribute to the media conversation about the topics that matter to them. In addition, it allowed them to offer alternative interpretations about the stories reported in the media, correct facts and back up their additional information with evidence that they obtained from multiple sources. Acknowledgements The author would like to thank Noha Al Harthi, Dania Bahssas, Hebah Al-Omari, Maison Ghanam, Noura Al-Sheikh, Yassmeen Wahbi and Ghofran Othoum. This study would not have been possible without their contribution. Their dedication and willingness to learn are much appreciated. The author would like to gratefully acknowledge the helpful suggestions of Michele Strano and the other referees, who have improved this article considerably.

References Al-Saggaf, Y. (2011). Saudi Females on Facebook: An Ethnographic Study, International Journal of Emerging Technologies and Society, 9(1), 1-19. Al-Saggaf, Y., Himma, K. & Kharabsheh, R. (2008). Political online communities in Saudi Arabia: the major players, Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, 6(2), 127-140. 19

Generalisations were not sought in this study anyway.


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Al-Saggaf, Y. & Weckert, J. (2006). Political Online Communities (POCs) in Saudi Arabia. In S. Marshall, W. Taylor & X. Yu (Eds.). Encyclopaedia of Developing Regional Communities with ICT (pp. 557-563). Hershey, PA: Idea Group Reference. Bers, M. U., & Chau, C. (2006). Fostering civic engagement by building a virtual city. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 11(3). Retrieved from http://jcmc.indiana.edu/ vol11/issue3/bers.html Bode, L. (2008). Don’t Judge a Facebook by its Cover: Social Networking Sites, Social Capital, and Political Participation. Political Science. Retrieved from http://users.polisci.wisc.edu/ behavior/Papers/Bode2008-facebook.pdf Boyatzis, R. E. (1998). Transforming Qualitative Information: thematic analysis and code development. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Boyd, D. M. & Ellison, N. B. (2007). Social network sites: Definition, history, and scholarship, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13(1). Retrieved from http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol13/issue1/boyd.ellison.html De Zúñiga, H. G., Jung, N., & Valenzuela, S. (2012). Social Media Use for News and Individuals’ Social Capital, Civic Engagement and Political Participation. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 17(3), 319-336. Harlow, S., & Harp, D. (2012). Collective Action on the Web. Information, Communication and Society, 15(2), 196-216. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2011.591411 Joinson, A. (1998). Causes and implications of disinhibited behaviour on the Internet. In J Gackenbach (ed.), Psychology and the Internet (pp. 43-60). Academic Press, San Diego. Mar, J. (2000). Online on time: The language of Internet Relay Chat. In D. Gibbs & K-L. Krause (eds.), Cyberlines: Languages and Cultures of the Internet (pp. 151-174). Australia: James Nicholas Publishers. Milbrath, L. W. (1965). Political participation. How and why do people get involved in politics? Chicago, IL: Rand McNally. Patton, M. Q. (2002). Qualitative research and evaluation methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Preece, J. (2000). Online Communities: Designing Useability, Supporting Sociability. John Wiley & Sons, Chichester Quintelier, Ellen, & Hooghe, Marc (2011). Television and Political Participation Among Adolescents: The Impact of Television Viewing, Entertainment and Information Preferences. Mass Communication and Society, 14(5), 620-642. Valenzuela, S., Park, N., & Kee, K. F. (2009). Is there social capital in a social network site?: Facebook use and college students’ life satisfaction, trust, and participation. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 14, 875-901. Young, Y. (2009). Online social networking: An Australian perspective. International Journal of Emerging Technologies and Society, 7(1), 39-57. Zhang, W., & Chia, S. W. (2006). The effects of mass media use and social capital on civic and political participation. Communication Studies, 57(3), 277-297.


M. Strano, H. Hrachovec, F. Sudweeks and C. Ess (eds). Proceedings Cultural Attitudes Towards Technology and Communication 2012, Murdoch University, Australia, 16-24.

USING DIGITAL ART TO MAKE THE TENSIONS BETWEEN CAPITAL AND COMMONS TRANSPARENT Innovation in shaping knowledge of Internet business practices as a form of cultural knowledge CONSTANCE E. KAMPF Business and Social Sciences, Aarhus University cka@asb.dk AND GEOFF COX Digital Humanities, Aarhus University imvgc@hum.au.dk

Abstract. This paper examines a digital art performance by Ubermorgen.com called Google Will Eat Itself (GWEI.org) as an example of the tensions between Capital and the public commons. Using notions of transparency and knowledge as a form of innovation rooted in Nonaka’s Knowledge Management theory, it examines the ways in which knowledge about how Google uses the Internet is made explicit through the art performance. Finally, it discusses the implications for transparency in Internet business through both the act of GWEI expanding audiences for understanding Internet based revenue generation models and using artifacts rooted cultural contexts in order to challenge the assumptions inherent in the current configuration of Capital and the public commons. It ends with calling into question the role of Google as a form of “Cultureware,” dependent on the public commons, yet profiting from it in the realm of the Capital.

1. Introduction How does the Internet work in terms of economics? Amazon, Google, and E-bay are all highly valued companies and they not only use the Internet for business, but in some ways can be seen as constituting the Internet because of their prominence in setting new cultural norms for Internet use across the globe. These companies are widely known and used, yet the way in which they are valued and make money is not necessarily transparent, but based on an emergent understanding of numbers of page views and hits. The mechanisms that assign value to these organizations are difficult to access because these three companies work at the intersection of capitalism and the information commons.


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Ubermorgen.com is a collective of digital artists who consider themselves as using Internet business as their medium for art, producing interventions from within the mechanisms that are used to assign value to Internet transactions—thereby disrupting the system. Ubermorgen.com was founded by Hans Bernhard, who was also a founder of the artist group etoy, which started what was arguably the most expensive art performance in history in the late 1990s—the etoy war. A critical response to the commercialization of the Internet, the etoy war was a response by an artists group to a business that convinced a court to order that that they needed to shut down their website because the URL (etoy.com) was too similar to the business URL (etoys.com). The artists had the domain etoy.com about 2 years before the company etoys.com was formed. However, the company brought etoy to court because their customers would mistype their URL and end up at the artists’ site, which was not intended for general audiences. The customers would then complain to etoys.com that they found profanity or other inappropriate material on their website. After the artist group etoy.com refused to sell to the corporation etoys.com, the interaction between the commons (represented by the nonprofit artists group etoy) and the capital (represented by the corporation etoys.com) become problematic. Because of the complaints, etoys.com took the artist group to court and won an injunction against their use of their own URL even though they had owned it since before etoys.com was incorporated. To fight this domination of Capital over Commons, etoy began an art performance piece called the etoy war. This art performance is described on the etoy site (http://www.etoy.com/projects/toywar/): the TOYWAR.com NET.ART.PRODUCT was designed in november 1999 to prevent the destruction of the etoy.ART-BRAND and to research the potential of an elaborate, effective but playful resistance system against the old fashioned corporate bulldozing power used by eToys Inc. (one of the biggest e-commerce companies in the world / incorporated 1996) who attempted unsuccessfully to take over the etoy.com art brand. Given the situation in which a corporation was able to actually shut down a domain which pre-existed their incorporation date, the artist group responded with an art performance they called the etoy war, which ran from 1999-2000, and ended up forcing etoys.com to declare bankruptcy. The etoy war performance is described in etoy.com as: TOYWAR.com did not follow common political strategies: TOYWAR.com successfully mobilized the net-community (among them hundreds of journalists), involved the enemy in a insane TOYNAM situation (preventing overview by fighting on too many layers with the help of 1799 soldiers) and turned eToys´ aggressions against themselves (martial arts for the net) until art finally neutralized the naive power of money. by playing a game on the web, in the court room and on the NASDAQ the etoy.CORPORATION and supporters forced eToys to step back from their aggressive intention. As a result, the etoys corporation filed for bankruptcy on March 7, 2001. Etoys.com was eventually sold for 3.5 million dollars—significantly lower than the 8.65 billion that etoys.com was valued at the height of its’ stock price. (Wishart & Bochsler, 2003). Thus, the etoy war can be understood as arguably the most expensive


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performance art in history. Representing the commons, the etoy soldiers became the governing the force of etoy. In examining this case, the question then becomes one of “where was the reality, anyway?” Etoy, an artist group which issues stock as a form of artistic practice, yet has no product as such, and performs the “art of being a corporation”, was able to effectively destroy the value of “real” company which traded on the Nasdaq stock index. Thus, in the contest between the capital and the commons, it could be declared that after the etoy war, the score was 0-1. The manner in which etoy deploys the features of corporations is a use of the corporation as a medium for artistic performance, like a sculptor uses clay. The features of this medium are manifested in the etoy website through self identification—declaring etoy a corporation, giving people who work for it stock options as compensation, describing “products” which are, in the spirit of Rene Magritte’s 1928 drawing of a pipe labeled “Ceci n’est pas une pipe,” merely symbols of products. In other words, etoy uses pictures and diagrams of products which are not really able to substitute for a product in itself. Ubermorgen’s playful interaction in using e-business systems as a sculpture medium continues to question the realities of e-business and make the mechanisms behind them transparent. Their work includes the EMRZ triology (http://ubermorgen.com/EKMRZ_Trilogy) which takes a critical look at Google, Amazon and E-bay. Of the trilogy, this paper will focus on the 2005-2006 piece aimed at Google, called “Google will eat itself.” (www.gwei.org). This performance can be understood as an innovation based approach to knowledge in the sense that Nonaka et al (2000) explained through their SECI model—a model in which knowledge is converted from tacit to explicit through a process which moves from Socialization to Externalization to Combination to Internalization. To examine the digital art performance, Google Will Eat Itself (GWEI.org), this paper will combine a discussion of underlying assumptions affecting our understanding of transparency with the SECI model (Nonaka et al 2000).

2. A Discussion of Underlying Assumptions Affecting Our Understanding of Transparency What is transparency? It is a meme that has entered our consciousness in the Internet age, often used but rarely examined from a theoretical perspective. Intuitively, it is often conflated with the concepts of availability and openness. However, if we see openness as the opposite of privatization, as in the context of the open source software movement, it implies much more than availability. It also implies the presence of what Kelty calls “a recursive public” independent from the traditional power system and characterized by both the agency and the knowledge to create alternatives. (Kelty 2008, p.10) Transparency differs from openness in Kelty’s definition of openness because it refers mainly to availability or access to information, which is distinct from the presence of a recursive public. So, if we move from the intuitive notion that transparency is openness to a more reflected definition, what are the key aspects of transparency that make it a useful concept which we can operationalize in research design?


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Looking to definitions from other disciplines, we can begin to theorize transparency from a more reflected perspective by looking at the connection between transparency and knowledge. From the practice of computer programming, transparency refers to self knowledge of the overall system being programmed— privileging the system to the individual programmer—so the system knows the location of the components, but the person doing the coding does not. (Zomoya 1996: 315) Thus, from an engineering perspective, transparency is not an individual phenomenon, but a system wide feature that allows for “loose coupling” or ease of replacing any given part that fails. Transparency is about what the programmer doesn’t know to ensure that the system can know the location of different components. Outside of the programming world, in the domain of communication, the term transparency has taken on an opposite meaning by implying open communication that is held accountable by outside audiences. This accountability is different from Kelty’s recursive audience because it implies knowledge and expectations communicated by an audience rather than the audience possessing the agency to produce alternatives—which is central to Kelty’s notion of openness. Internet technology supports the underlying assumption that wide spread information is the key to transparency, rather than the computer systems function-focused notion which limits information availability in order to avoid disruptive assumptions and ensure the functionality of the system. Thus, the dimension of audience for transparency can be seen as having two sides—selection of audiences for optimum functionality of the system, or broadening of audience for optimum communication. A second dimension of transparency can be understood as transparency in cultural contexts. If we understand culture from a semiotic perspective (Radford 1998), a focus on how culture reflects and affects both resources and processes related to meaningmaking offers a knowledge-based perspective for both understanding and operationalizing cultural contexts. As cultural contexts are social and include resources such as technology, knowledge, and production practices, an approach from a sociotechnical perspective can be fruitful for understanding transparency in cultural contexts. Knowledge can be understood not only as a cultural resource, in addition, ways of knowing can be understood as a form of cultural practice. When we approach transparency as a socio-technical construct, we connect technologies that make information widely available with socio-cultural acts of knowing. From this socio-technical perspective, our approach to knowledge informs our understanding of the social side of transparency. Knowledge has been theorized in terms of identity (Wenger 1999), innovation (Nonaka 1995, Nonaka et al. 2000), and in terms of decision-making processes (Choo 1998). Although these three perspectives are not comprehensive, when examined together, they offer a multi-dimensional perspective for understanding the social aspects of transparency and point to features of cultural contexts. Transparency can be understood as culturally embedded because it reflects the available means of knowing and expectations for accounting for choices and actions in a given cultural context.


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3. The Audience Dimension of Transparency in GWEI In using the corporation as a medium for “digital sculpture,” Ubermorgen offers sections of their website which demonstrate mechanisms used to value Internet based business aimed at the tension between audiences knowing and not knowing. In Zamoya’s metaphor of the programmer as not knowing the location of data in order to ensure the functionality of the system, she questions the relationship between knowledge in the public commons and the functioning of the Capital system of business on the Internet. In parallel, Ubermorgen.com uses GWEI to question Capital models of Internet business from a Commons perspective. Is it the lack of knowledge about how value and money is created through Internet mechanisms in the Commons which allows the Capital side of Internet business to function? And does the enlargement of the audience from only a Capital or business audience to include a Commons audience jeopardize the Internet business system functionality? Through revealing the mechanisms of funding related to Google, Ubermorgen.com tries to make the Capital system of funding transparent to the Commons. This is done by creating a system that creatively uses a feature of Google called Adsense. Adsense generates capital through counting the number of hits for ads from a given website. Ubermorgen.com has to date used Adsense in an unintended manner to generate hits through “bots”, which are then paid out by Google. In turn, Ubermorgen uses the capital generated by the performance to buy shares of Google stock. To date, they have generated over 405,000 US dollars worth of revenue, which has been used to purchase 819 shares. On the GWEI site, they keep track of the stock prices, the current value of their shares, and the number of years it will take at their current rate of earning to own Google—in this case, 202,345,117 years until the GWEI project fully owns Google (http://www.gwei.org/pages/google/googleshare.php, accessed March 31, 2012). The system used to generate this real revenue stream is documented in their diagram of the GWEI process, shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. GWEI model for generating revenue to buy Google shares (http://www.gwei.org/pages/diagram/diagram.html).


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In Figure 1, the diagram shows the how clicks are used to generate money and buy Google shares for the GTTP (Google To The People) community who jointly own the Google shares bought by the project. This diagram is intended to reveal the mechanisms for generating money through Adsense as just as far from reality as their project, which will own Google in a little more than 202 million years. Thus, Figure 1 can be seen as both an act of transparency in terms of revealing the previously hidden mechanisms of Internet funding, and an attempt to “educate the programmer” so that the programmer can make assumptions that begin interrupt the system of a Capital dominated Internet.

4. The Cultural Dimensions of Transparency in GWEI Although the cultural dimensions of transparency are distinguished from the audience dimension of transparency, the intent is not to suggest a separation between audience and culture, but rather to investigate how our understanding of transparency shifts with our focus. In the audience dimensions of transparency, the focus is on examining who has access to knowledge. In the cultural dimensions of transparency, the focus shifts to how resources for knowing and meaning-making are deployed. If we understand culture from a semiotic perspective (Radford 1998), a focus on how culture reflects and affects both resources and processes related to meaning-making offers a knowledgebased perspective for both understanding and operationalizing cultural contexts. As cultural contexts are social and include resources such as technology, knowledge, and production practices, an approach from a socio-technical perspective can be fruitful for understanding transparency in cultural contexts. Knowledge can be understood not only as a cultural resource, in addition, ways of knowing can be understood as a form of cultural practice. When we approach transparency as a socio-technical construct, we connect technologies that make information widely available with socio-cultural acts of knowing. When we shift our understanding to transparency from a knowledge perspective via Nonaka’s SECI Model (1995, 2000), the diagram for Google Will Eat Itself in Figure 1 can be understood as encompassing both Externalization and Combination. Externalization demonstrates how Google generates and pays out money for clicks for a public commons audience. Combining this knowledge describing how Google works with the knowledge of how the public commons works becomes a means to attempt to move Google ownership from private capital ownership to the public commons. In revealing the secret life of Google, Ubermorgen.com uses artifacts to link to knowledge of financial systems in European and American cultural contexts. In the section of the GWEI site labeled “Banking”, they show a page from their online banking system with UBS Bank in Switzerland which gives current Google Stock value. In addition, they have another section of the site where letters from Google shutting down 3 of their Adsense accounts are published, along with a legal “cease and desist” letter informing Ubermorgen that GWEI is illegal, and they need to shut down their secret Adsense accounts or face legal consequences. They also include photos of the cheques sent by Google to demonstrate the real side of this unreal model that through “the ignorance of the programmer” allows them to continue functioning in a way that extracts money from Google to shift the ownership of Google itself from the


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Capital to the Commons through their legal organization, GTTP or Google to the People. In addition to cheques and legal correspondence, Ubermorgen also plays with other cultural concepts that are currently key pieces of European Culture, such as Co2 production and the cost of running Internet sites. For example, in Figure 2, a screen shot from a link on the site Google Will Eat Itself (GWEI.org), you can see the “error” screen that quantifies the amount of CO2 used to produce an error, and gives you a place to click to neutralize your own personal effect on the earth, and return it to balance. This screen questions the role of the Internet in producing CO2, as well as the role of a click, bringing up the questions —can a click really either create or erase 3.432 tons of CO2? And what can a click really do anyway? On clicking the red “HERE”, the user is returned to the GWEI website.

Figure 2. The “user error” screen http://www.gwei.org/pages/texts/pdfs/Google%20incTM08_teufl_endo.pdf

This “user error” draws on resources of current European and global cultural contexts by directly linking the Internet to the production of Carbon Dioxide, and offering the audience a chance to “redeem” themselves through a mere click to neutrualize their personal balance. This tongue in cheek reference to the “power of a click” reminds the users that the values attached to a click are still up for negotiation between the Capital and the public commons. This screen also makes a reference to the final words presented by Grischinka Teufl (2008), an Ubermorgen member in the document that this link was supposed to reference: Selling out the delusion of net-mediated countercultures forces the emergence of deadlocked scenarios – hopefully leading to a model transforming the subjected gatekeepers of romanticism into troubleshooters of critical counterparts, fomenting the realm of an open source intelligence, developing cultureware which is leading


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to the desired state of free sharing within a cooperation-model designed for the next step of knowledge-evolution without burning the potentials for coming generations. This is impossible without creating new socio-global standards for the system of informationalism. To rewrite the programs of consumerism we have to become polylogic smartjects knowing about our weakness for subservience and from time to time train ourself to switch off the machines, formating the harddrive and restart our system by re-inventing our-self before re-inventing the world. Here, Teufl is calling for a shift in cultural context from the bottom up by changing the standards for how we deal with information and through reflection, moving from subjects who produce for Google to profit, to “Smartjects”— who can not only shape the culture contexts in which they live, but work together to develop “cultureware” which underlies the processes of knowing. These “smartjects” can be seen as a desired end result and innovation that Ubermorgen would like to emerge from the Internalization of the mechanisms used by both Google as an example of the Capital and GTTP (Google to the People) as an example of the Commons when they intersect in the digital art performance “Google will Eat Itself.”

5. Conclusion The digital art performance by Ubermorgen.com called Google Will Eat Itself offers an example for understanding the role of transparency in knowing and acting at the tension between Capital and the public commons in Internet contexts. The piece itself can be seen as a innovation that uses dimensions of transparency in terms of both audience and cultural context to make information explicit and use the project to help viewers build knowledge about how business models and assigned value on the Internet works. It also highlights the role of both knowing and not knowing in allowing the system which supports Google and other Internet based business to continue to use the Commons as a basis for building Capital. Through the act of highlighting knowledge and nonknowledge and bring some of that knowledge from the Capital into the Commons, Ubermorgen.com challenges the system and opens up the opportunity for change through highlighting the differences between Google itself and GTTP or Google to the People, a commons organization created to interrupt and question the assumptions involved in Capitalizing on the Internet. GWEI was also examined as a form of innovation following Nonaka’s SECI model, which focuses on how knowledge is converted from tacit to explicit. This model was seen in two dimensions of transparency apparent in GWEI—the dimension of audience and the dimension of cultural context. These dimensions can be understood as part of the knowledge conversion process since they show how knowledge is converted from tacit to explicit when new audiences are engaged, as well as when cultural resources are re-employed in ways that cause viewers to question their assumptions. The key innovation in GWEI was the use of Google’s own mechanisms for generating money to shift part of the ownership of Google itself from the Capital to the Commons. The implications of GWEI include a need to question our assumptions about the Internet and its’ role as what Teufel called “Cultureware.” In addition, GWEI calls us to


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question the interaction between the Capital and Commons—should the Commons be generating money for the Capital? Or should the current business models be slowly converted to Commons? Given that people in the Commons publish, sell and consume themselves – through services provided by Google as a form of “cultureware,” Google Will Eat Itself offers us transparency in understanding the underlying mechanisms which generate Internet revenue. In doing so, it calls us to move ourselves from 1) subjects used by Google to generate their revenue to 2) Teufel's “smartjects” who both engage in and are able to benefit from the process of producing “cultureware.”

References Choo, C. W. (1998). The Knowing Organization: How Organizations Use Information to Construct Meaning, Create Knowledge, and Make Decisions, Oxford University Press. Etoy.com (1999-2000). Toywar 1999. Available online: http://www.etoy.com/projects/toywar/. Accessed March 20, 2012. Kelty, Christopher M. (2008). Two Bits: The Cultural Significance of Free Software. Duke University Press. Available online: http://twobits.net/pub/Kelty-TwoBits.pdf Nonaka, I. & Takeuchi, H. (1995). The Knowledge Creating Company: How Japanese Companies create the dynamics of innovation. New York: Oxford University Press. Nonaka, I., Toyama, R. & Konno, N. (2000). SECI, ba and Leadership: A Unified Model of Knowledge Creation. Long Range Planning 33: 5-34. Radford, Luis (1998). On culture and mind: a post-Vygotskian semiotic perspective with an example from Greek mathematical thought. Paper presented at the 23rd Annual Meeting of the Semiotic Society of America,Victoria College, University of Toronto, October 15-18, 1998. Available online: http://colloquium.laurentian.ca/NR/rdonlyres/BD6DEEF4-92674C9F-913A-8E7C8CFCF418/0/On_culture_mind2.pdf. Teufl, G. (2008). Google INC. vs. Wisdomized Clouds. Paper prepared for Transmediale 2008. Available online: http://www.gwei.org/pdfs/Google%20incTM08_teufl_endo.pdf. Accessed March 30, 2012. Ubermorgen.Com (2005-2006). Google Will Eat Itself. Digital art performance. available http://www.gwei.org. accessed March 15, 2012. Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Wishart, A. & Bochsler, R. (2003). Leaving Reality Behind: etoy vs eToys.com and other battles to control cyberspace. New York: HarperCollins Publishers. Zomoya, A. Y. (1996). Parallel and Distributed Computing Handbook. USA: McGraw-Hill, pp. 315-318.


M. Strano, H. Hrachovec, F. Sudweeks and C. Ess (eds). Proceedings Cultural Attitudes Towards Technology and Communication 2012, Murdoch University, Australia, 25-37.

THE GAZA STRIP AS PANOPTICON AND PANSPECTRON: THE DISCIPLINING AND PUNISHING OF A SOCIETY MICHAEL DAHAN Sapir College, Israel dahanm@gmail.com

Abstract. This paper explores the different yet complementary aspects of the panopticon and the panspectron using the case study of the Israeli controlled Palestinian territory, the Gaza Strip. Beginning with a brief theoretical discussion of the concept of panopticon and panspectron expanding on the existing literature, the paper moves on to discuss the implementation of panoptical and panspectral technologies and practices in the Gaza Strip and situates these within a larger framework of control of the Palestinian population under Israeli occupation, and discusses seepage of these surveillance technologies into Israeli society proper and beyond into the international arena.

1. From Panopticon to Panspectron In the late 18th Century, English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham designed an institutional building which he called the Panopticon. Bentham saw the design as “a new mode of obtaining power of mind over mind in a quantity hitherto without example”. (Bentham, 1787/1995, p.i). Essentially, the architecture of the building allowed surveillance of people at all times without the objects of surveillance knowing that they were being observed at any given moment. The constant observation or gaze of the authorities would then serve to affect and change behavior. Since then, Bentham’s panopticon has served as a model for the construction of prisons, and has become a metaphor for surveillance and “big brother”. Michel Foucault in Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (1975/1977) later continues the exploration of the panopticon from an institutional perspective noting that the role of the panopticon is “to induce in the inmate a state of conscious and permanent visibility that assures the automatic functioning of power” (p.199). The following passage from Orwell’s novel 1984 summarizes succinctly the effect of panopticon: There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time… You had to live – did live, from habit that became instinct – in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every moment scrutinized (Orwell in Sclove 2000, p.22).


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Manuel DeLanda (1991; Palmas, 2011), describes how the National Security Agency in the US was putting together a surveillance system that he calls ‘the panspectron’. In contrast to the original panoptic architectures and social and organizational constructs of Bentham and Foucault, the panspectron monitors a wider segment of frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum, if not the entire spectrum. In other words, the panspectron not only registers that which is visible to the human eye but also radio, radar, microwaves, cellular communication, and so on: Instead of positioning some human bodies around a central sensor, a multiplicity of sensors is deployed around all bodies: its antenna farms, spy satellites and cable-traffic intercepts feed into its computers all the information that can be gathered. This is then processed through a series of ‘filters’ or key-word watch-lists. The Panspectron does not merely select certain bodies and certain (visual) data about them. Rather, it compiles information about all at the same time, using computers to select the segments of data relevant to its surveillance tasks (DeLanda, 1991, p.206). While the panopticon is concerned primarily with individual surveillance and control, the panspectron is about mass surveillance and control: everything and everyone is observed all the time. The goal here to being to monitor as completely as possible what Floridi (2002) terms the “infosphere”. In many ways the Total Information Awareness (TIA) program instituted by the Pentagon in the aftermath of 9/11 is panspectral in nature. While the program was discontinued in 2003, many components of the program continue to be developed under different names. An infographic provided by the now defunct US Information Awareness Office provides us with a possible conceptualization of the panspectron:


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It is important to note here that panoptical and panspectral technologies are not mutually exclusive and can and often do coexist in given situations. Sandra Braman (2006) goes further and uses the concept of the panspectron to describe, among other aspects, the ability of what she terms the “informational state” to expand its sovereignty and control beyond its borders through technology. She observes (2006) that “in the panopticon environment the subject knows that the watcher is there, in the panspectron environment one may be completely unaware [and often is] that information is being collected”. Braman provides examples of panspectral technology usage at US border crossings, and by the TSA in non US airports as examples of the extension of sovereignty beyond national borders. Other countries use social networking sites to check arrivals at airports (see Fassahi, 2009). Indeed, even so called democratic and even “liberating” technology, such as Web 2.0 implementations credited with fueling the Arab Spring, have at their core panoptical and panspectral aspects, which we contribute freely in the framework of what Albrechtslund (2008) calls participatory surveillance: With the transition from a panopticon to a panspectron environment, the production of open information not only provides support for communities but also contributes to surveillance (Braman, 2006). Or as Andrejevic remarks: The participatory injunction of the interactive revolution extends monitoring techniques from the cloistered offices of the Pentagon to the everyday spaces of our homes and offices, from law enforcement and espionage to dating, parenting, and social life. In an era in which everyone is to be considered potentially suspect, we are invited to become spies – for our own good (Andrejevic, 2005, p.494). Indeed, intelligence organizations thrive on the myriad mapping of social relationships which can be used to gain information and leverage against a specific subject. In particular they are concerned with the mapping of social networks of political activists and what they term subversive elements. Social networking platforms provide these organizations with this information voluntarily. This was indeed the case in most of the demonstrations in the Middle East over the past year, and prior to this in Iran during the protests against what was seen as election fraud on part of the ruling party. The same technologies that allowed for the dissemination of information and political mobilization also allow the intelligence and security organizations in these countries to track and arrest activists1. In the West Bank and Gaza information gathered by the security services allowed the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, respectively, to arrest organizers of demonstrations thus quelling demonstrations and dissent2. While Tawil-Souri (2011), Zureik et al. (2010), and others have probed and exposed the differing aspects of panoptical control implemented by Israel in the Gaza Strip, as well as the West Bank, this paper seeks to expand the existing analysis by 1

See Open Net Initiative for country reports detailing net surveillance at http://opennet.net/ Information gleaned from anonymous interviews with members of Palestinian IT Association (PITA).

2


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addressing additional dimensions of control, including panspectral control hereto unaddressed, as well as seepage into Israeli society and beyond of technologies of control tested and used in the West Bank and Gaza, such as the proposed biometric identity system, facial recognition systems, expansion of CCTV implementation and the internal use of surveillance balloons (previously used only at borders with Israel) and drones which allow security authorities to control all communications including internet access within a given area, as well as collect information and mount attacks via the remote controlled aerial drones. Once these technologies become normalized within a civilian context they then become the basis for policy. For example, behavioral and ethnic profiling, initially developed by Israel for aviation security (Whitaker, 2011) has now become the gold standard in airports around the world. Furthermore, technologies and methods developed in the course of control of the Gaza Strip are selectively implemented within Israeli society and beyond in the so called "war on terror", (Gordon, 2010) or for social control, and are then exported abroad. Indeed, in the wake of September 11 and the demand for homeland security technology (Rygiel, 2008, p.88), Israel has become a “24 hour showroom… Turning war into a brand asset” (Klein, 2007). Some have ventured so far as to suggest that the recent (February-March 2012) violence in Gaza was instigated by Israel in order to showcase its “Iron Dome” technology – marketing it both to the public (to ease fears) in preparation for a possible war with Iran, and to the US and other countries as a solution for missile attacks. The process would seem to be reinforced by the dialectical relationship between the tool or technological solution, its uses and policy that is adopted in light of its apparent success. This is usually achieved with little public debate. Surveillance technologies thus seep from the battlefield to civilian use, providing the state with significant control of the civilian population, often under the pretense of the “war on terror” and the need for democracies to defend themselves from internal and external threats. Webster (1999) notes, states tend to exploit the application of new technology, particularly surveillance technology in order to strengthen their own legitimacy and deepen their control both internally and externally. Indeed it would seem that Israel expresses its sovereignty primarily as control.

2. Gaza as Panopticon and Panspectron One of the most powerful strategies of imperial dominance is that of surveillance, or observation, because it implies a viewer with an elevated vantage point, it suggests the power to process and understand that which is seen, and it objectifies and interpellates the colonized subject in a way that fixes its identity in relation to the surveyor… The imperial gaze defines the identity of the subject, objectifies it within the identifying system of power relations and confirms its subalterneity and powerlessness (Ashcroft, Griffiths and Tiffin 1998, p.226, quoted in Zureik et al.). The Gaza Strip lies on the Eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. It is bordered on the southwest by Egypt, and by Israel on the east and the north. The Strip itself is 41


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km long, and between 6 and 12 kilometers wide. Its total area is 360 square kilometers and contains a population of approximately 1.7 million, a majority of which are refugees. It is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. The Gaza Strip is physically separated from the rest of the Palestinian Territories in the West Bank. Following the Israeli unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip in 2005, including the withdrawal of settlers and military, control of the Gaza Strip was assumed by the Palestinian Authority. In 2006 the Hamas won a majority of votes in the Gaza Strip and formed a national unity government with Fatah. In 2007 violence broke out between the Fatah and Hamas factions after which Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip and replaced Fatah officials with its own. Following Hamas control of the Gaza Strip, Israel instituted (with Egyptian assistance) a complete land closure and naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. This is also supported by Palestinian Monetary Authority which provides foreign (i.e. Israeli and American oversight) of financial transfers3. This has resulted in the Gaza Strip essentially becoming the world’s largest open air prison. The only effective way in or out of the Gaza Strip, whether people or commodities, is through a series of hundreds of underground tunnels connecting the Gaza Strip to Egypt. In fact, the only physical dimension of Gaza that Israel does not control is these tunnels, and the tunnels are the only way that Gazans can escape the imperial gaze. The tunnels also serve as a form of resistance to and egress from, the panoptical and panspectral gaze. Thus, in many ways Gaza resembles the dystopic visions expressed in cyberpunk literature, and is reminiscent of such movies as the 1981 Escape from New York. As Gary Fields explains: enclosure is thus the application of force to land by groups with territorial ambitions who mobilize the institutional power of law and the material power of architecture to reorder patterns of land ownership, use, and circulation and reorganize socioeconomic life and demography in a place (Fields, 2010, p.66). Control of Gaza by the Hamas, as well as the closure forced Israel to invest in technological solutions for surveillance and control as they no longer had access to the extensive network of collaborators and informants which comprised Israel’s human intelligence within the Gaza Strip. As Sa’adi (2005) notes, Israel has relied on networks of informants within the occupied territories for decades. These physical networks were often supported by technological means. As Lyons (2001) points out, an analysis of surveillance is grounded on the fact that it is “real” people watching over others, but the new quality of surveillance lies in the fact that this “embodiment” lessens and is transferred to computers and other technological systems. This is clearly reflected in the evolution of the strategies of surveillance in the Gaza Strip. More so, Gaza has become the testing ground for new panoptical and panspectral technology in a hereto unprecedented form. Among the technological mechanisms of surveillance and control in the Gaza Strip one may find the use of biometric identity cards, Israeli access to Palestinian census data, almost complete access to and control of the telecommunication infrastructure in 3

See Palestinian National Anti Money Laundering Committee at: http://www.ffu.ps/


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the Gaza Strip (Tawil-Souri 2011), the ability to track individuals via cell phone, large surveillance zeppelins (see photo below) which monitor the entire electromagnetic spectrum and which can usurp control of these from Palestinian operators (for instance sending text messages to subscribers targeting different demographics) as well as optical surveillance, unarmed UAVs for surveillance and targeting, armed UAVs that carry out targeted assassinations, facial recognition technology (used for identifying individuals in large crowds of people – negating the possibility of public anonymity), remote controlled and robotic machine gun towers guarding the border that are capable of identifying a target and opening fire automatically – without human intervention. These technologies as well as the more recent “Iron Dome” (which targets missiles and is capable of destroying them in mid air) are being tested by the US army for defense of its bases in hostile areas like Afghanistan.

Surveillance zeppelin permanently positioned above the Gaza Strip I recently had the opportunity to view some of these technologies first hand at the Erez Crossing between Gaza and Israel4. The crossing has undergone a massive restructuring in recent years, and now resembles more than anything else, an airline terminal or ultra modern border crossing (see below). Originally conceived as the primary land crossing and entry point into Israel (prior to the 2007 closure) the structure is quite impressive and was intended to make the crossing seem more humane while at the same time providing maximum security to Israeli supervisors. Beyond exploring the biometric identity system I was also sensitive to the architecture of the structure. Pedestrian flows within the terminal are directed in such a way as to prevent any direct contact between Israeli security and the Palestinians. Security officers (many of the crossings and checkpoints in the occupied territories have been privatized), patrol on gangways situated between the ceiling and the ground floor. Interior design attempts to hide varying aspects of control, including control of the flow of people within the terminal. The architecture eventually guides prospective entrants to a series of identification cubicles. Each cubicle has a biometric identity system composed of a biometric facial recognition system which compares the individual to the biometric facial data on his or her ID card and the biometric database maintained by Israel, a fingerprint system which reads all ten fingerprints (fingerprints are one of the 4

The tour was arranged informally and technically illegal. As a result my ability to document, particularly photograph, was severely limited.


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first “scientific� forms of identification and were first used by the British colonial administration in India), and finally a biometric palm reader (the same palm reading system is used as a voluntary ID system at Ben Gurion airport to facilitate entry and exit for registered Israeli citizens). The prospective entrant must be identified by all components in order to gain entry. In addition to this each biometric identity card is also equipped with a unique RFID chip which allows for tracking within the terminal and beyond. Different aspects of the system can be seen in the photo below (one caveat regarding the photo: there is no physical presence in the cubicle with the Palestinian prospective entrant. The photo was provided by the ministry of defense).


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It is not only the geographical and technological closure that comprise the panopticon and panspectron that is the Gaza Strip. Then Chief of Staff Moshe Ya’alon described one of the goals of the “operation defensive shield” in 2002 during the second Intifada as being to “etch the consciousness” of the Palestinians in such a way and with such force that they would not even consider resistance, i.e. “resistance is futile”. This is a recurring theme in Israeli technological hegemony and in exerting its sovereignty and maybe found in the logic behind the stuxnet virus directed against Iranian nuclear facilities. Apparently a joint US/Israel cyber attack, beyond damage to the facilities one of the implications of its success is to suggest “we can get hold of you anywhere” or as Zurawski (2005) notes “we know where you live”. Perhaps most representative of this tactic was the targeted assassination by Israel in 1996 of Yahya Ayyash, a bomb maker for Hamas and one of the leaders of the Iz Adin al Qassam Brigade. He was killed by a small amount of explosive hidden in his cell phone. When he answered and his identity established the charge was detonated remotely, killing him instantly. Beyond the obvious purpose of assassination, the method used served to send a message of technological superiority to those challenging Israel. The “etching” was to be achieved by both military means and the use of great force (“shock and awe”), but also through technological control. This echoes Foucault’s “mind over mind” (1995:206). Indeed one of the main targets of information gathering during the operation by Israeli forces dealt with Palestinian census data and the wholesale rifling and destruction of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics data files. The goal of “etching the consciousness” of the enemy has become an integral part of the “Operational Art” of the IDF (Rappaport, 2010), and was practiced during the Second Lebanon War as well, with Israel using massive firepower directed at infrastructures as well as commandeering of cellular networks and television stations. Text messages were sent directly to citizens’ cell phones during defensive shield, the Gaza incursions and the Second Lebanon War (Rappaport, 2010).

3. Seepage of Panoptical and Panspectral Technologies Israel controls 70% of the market in aerial drones (UAVs) (used for observation and attack) and is a leader in the development of border surveillance technologies, such as sensors, aviation security systems and protocols, fences, electro-optical equipment, and robotic gun systems (Denes, 2011; Gordon, Zureik, & Kloostermann, 2010). In addition, a macro level view of the hi-tech sector in Israel shows an inordinate amount of research and development in the field of surveillance and data collection as well computer security systems. Earlier research has shown that the roots of the Israeli hi tech sector are in Military Intelligence (particularly one specific signals intelligence unit, Unit 8200) and the defense industries. The “special relations” between Israel and The US provide Israel with access to large markets in North America, Europe, Azerbaijan and Eastern Europe, China, India, and until recently, Turkey. The clearest seepage of control technologies developed in the context of the occupation into Israel proper is the proposed use of biometric ID cards for Israeli citizens. Israel has long used a system of differentiated ID cards to distinguish between Jews and non Jews, citizens and residents of Israel, and citizens and residents of the


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occupied territories. These ID cards are color coded: Blue for Israeli citizens and Arab residents (but not citizens) of East Jerusalem, orange for Palestinian residents of the West Bank and Gaza. The ID cards also note ethnic/religious affiliation, and the ID numbers themselves are coded so as to reflect this information. In fact this system of identification is perhaps the oldest example of social sorting in Israel. ones identity status, whether citizen or resident, Israeli or Palestinian determines your freedom to travel (both within Israel and abroad), ones ability to marry and to receive social benefits, as well as ones ability to find employment. In 2008 the Interior Ministry, the government entity responsible for administering the national registry, began to advance what was initially called “Smart ID”, but later became known as biometric ID card. According to then-Interior Minister, Meir Sheetrit, biometric cards would assist in ‘uprooting crime, foiling terror attacks and identifying victims’ (Ilan, 2009)5. While the project has been delayed due to public pressure and is currently classified as a non mandatory pilot, individuals arrested during this pilot period have had their biometric data taken and added to the database. It is expected that after the two year trial registration with the database will be mandatory and lack to comply will be punishable by law. Israel has also pressured Palestinians to create their own biometric database and hand it over to Israel in the interest of “biometrization”6. In 2007 the Israeli parliament approved a bill dubbed the “Big Brother” law, permitting police to establish a massive database or search engine based on telecom information. The new law allows police to request a judge’s warrant to obtain communications data from a database that includes telephone numbers, names and real time location of mobile phone subscribers, hard serial numbers of mobile phones, and maps of cellular antenna locations. Under certain conditions high ranking police officers can obtain this information without prior judicial consent. The Knesset rejected requests to grant the police authority to receive lists of internet addresses in Israel (Ilan, 2007). As a result, eavesdropping by the police and security services increased tenfold (Ilan, 2008). In addition, secret police units have been conducting surveillance of Israeli citizens (including political activists) using a myriad of methods (Zarchin, 2009). Furthermore, a secret appendix exists in all telecommunication licenses issued by the Ministry of Communication. All communications providers are required to be licensed by law. In the license is a secret appendix or codicil which explicitly demands that telecommunications companies hand over, by request of the security services any information related to voice calls and text messages, location information and usage patterns. There is little or no evidence of Internet surveillance or deep packet inspection 5

For a comprehensive discussion of the issues as voiced in the Israeli press, see: Ilan, Shahar (2009/03/15) ‘Plan to introduce biometric IDs stirs privacy debate’, Haaretz. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1070793.html; Ilan, Shahar (2008/05/18) ‘Police wiretaps climb sharply in peripheral areas’, Haaretz. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=984365 Ilan, Shahar (2007/12/18) ‘Knesset okays establishment of “Big Brother” database for police’. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=935812&contrassID=0 &subContrassID=0 6 See Hass, Amira (2009/11/25) ‘Voyeurism’, Haaretz. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1130498.html


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in Israel proper, nor is their much in the Palestinian Territories: the majority of blockages are related to sites with sexual content. It is worthy to note here though that Israel controls almost all the bandwidth in the occupied territories as well as much of the electromagnetic spectrum – obstensively for security reasons (World Bank 2008a, 2008b). Another technology that has found its way into use by the police is facial recognition technology. Initially developed and tested by the military in order to identify both Israeli and Palestinian protestors during demonstrations against the wall in Bili’n and Ne’alin villages near Ramallah7. This technology is now being used by the police to identify protestors within Israel proper (cross referencing with the national register), and is being implemented at airports and border crossings. The surveillance zeppelin has also made a number of appearances in Israel, usually during visits of heads of state but also during large public protests. These surveillance zeppelins provide the operators with control over telecommunications in a certain radius, including the Internet. All of these technologies as well as additional surveillance technologies form the backbone of an extensive exportation of surveillance technologies abroad in the framework of homeland security. Over 300 Israeli companies are actively involved in the homeland security sector. For an informed discussion on the political economy of Israel’s home land security sector see Neve Gordon (Gordon, 2010). Analysis of Israel’s UAV industry is provided by Nick Denes (2010). Israel has adopted a screening and surveillance model that is openly and routinely used. Israeli behavioral profiling methods, Whitaker (2011) suggests, are arguably necessary for a state fixated on the importance of ever-improving security measures. At the same time the author problematizes the racially-based deployment and development of such security protocols. In addition to being a significant developer and exporter of surveillance equipment, the Israel’s military/security industry is also a world leader in the perfection of surveillance methodologies and techniques (Morley, 2012). Using the airport as a case study, Whitaker examines screening procedures that were developed and implemented by Israel and its security services (see Kloosterman 2010). Similarly, Pfeffer (2009) analyses the development of racial profiling as an anti-terrorist and security measure initially used by Israel’s security agencies within airports. This method is credited with virtually eliminating all terrorist attacks in Israeli airports since the 1970s. ‘Many Israelis have no problems with this [strategy]’, Pfeffer asserts. ‘Let the Muslims suffer for the sins of their brothers they say. But those of us who like to think of ourselves as liberal humanists find it all too easy to ignore the sight of entire families having their luggage rummaged through in front of the entire terminal while we are waved through’. In this sense, privileged Jewish Israeli’s become complacent, even comfortable with the extent to which the security apparatus provides them protection, while simultaneously disenfranchising and oppressing others. It is not hard to imagine similar sentiments being expressed in the US in light of behavioral and racial profiling. Much of Whitaker’s argument can be summarized as follows: 7

I first became aware of during interviews conducted with IDF reservists. I have been unable to receive confirmation by the IDF, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Internal Security nor has this been reported in the press.


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Looked at strictly as a security measure, Israeli passenger profiling has a number of strengths. Even its critics acknowledge that it works. However, looking at it simply as a socially and politically neutral security technique misses a great deal that is critical to grasping the significance of passenger profiling in its specific Israeli context (2011, p.383, emphasis in original).

4. Conclusion While many of the technologies discussed in the framework of “seepage” can be understood in terms of Giddens’ (1985) (and echoed by Lyon, 2001) proposed connection between citizenship rights and surveillance (based in turn on Marshall’s (1973) typology of political, social and economic rights in the modern state) i.e the policing or security aspect of surveillance and the role of surveillance in the provision of rights, the changes in approaches to political thinking in a post 9/11 reality coupled with restrictions on political liberties, (primarily in the US, Israel, Russia, the UK and France) the rise of populism and the general backlash against democracy – often precursors to authoritarianism – brings us one step closer to the panspectron within modern and currently democratic societies. Indeed, it would seem that in recent years, in response to threats of terrorism and economic instability, liberal democracies, with the aid of technologies of surveillance and control, are rapidly shedding liberal characteristics and moving toward a form of democracy where the state has a great deal of potential control of the population. As Giddens notes, “aspects of totalitarian rule are a threat” in all advanced societies precisely because surveillance is “maximized in the modern state” (Giddens, 1985, p.310). The case of the Gaza Strip, unique as both an open air prison and as a live example of panoptical and panspectral technologies is informative at two levels: the attempt by Israel to use these technologies in order to gain complete and total panspectral control in a Deleuzian sense (and to punish when deemed necessary by Israel) while serving as a testing ground for similar technologies to be implemented in the framework of advanced societies. One only need to look at the narratives of control surrounding immigration issues in the US and Europe, the unprecedented use of surveillance technologies (particularly CCTV, vehicle tracking in large cities, the “participatory surveillance” of social media, the proliferation of location based mobile technology and the use of police drones) to consider that the future may not bode well.

References Andrejevic, M. (2005). “The work of watching one another: Lateral surveillance, risk, and governance,” Surveillance & Society, 2(4): 479–497, and at http://www.surveillance-andsociety.org/articles2(4)/lateral.pdf. Albrechtslund, A. (2008). Online Social Networking as Participatory Surveillance, First Monday, 13(3). Retrieved from http://www.firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ ojs/index.php/fm/article/viewArticle/2142/1949 Bentham, J. (1995). The Panopticon Writings. Ed. Miran Bozovic (pp.29-95). London: Verso.


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Braman, S. (2006). Tactical Memory: The Politics of Openness in the Construction of Memory. First Monday, 11(7): 1-21. DeLanda, M. (1991). War in the Age of Intelligent Machines. New York: Zone. Denes, N. (2011) From tanks to wheelchairs: Unmanned aerial vehicles, Zionist battlefield experiments, and the transparence of the civilian. In E. Zureik, D. Lyon and Y. Abu-Laban (eds) Surveillance and control in Israel/Palestine: Population, Territory and Power. London: Routledge. Fassahi, F. (2009). Iranian Crackdown Goes Global. Wall Street Journal, 3 December. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125978649644673331.html Fields, G. (2010). Landscaping Palestine: Reflections of Enclosure in a Historical Mirror. International Journal of Middle East Studies 42:63-82. Floridi, L. (2002). Information Ethics: An Environmental Approach to the Digital Divide, Philosophy in the Contemporary World, 9(1), 39-45. Foucault, M. (1975/1977). Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, New York: Random House. Giddens, A. (1985). The Nation State and Violence: Volume Two of a Contemporary Critique of Historical Materialism. Cambridge: Polity Press. Gordon, N. (2010). Israel’s Emergence as a Homeland Security Capital. In E. Zureik, D. Lyon and Y. Abu Laban (eds.) Surveillance and Control in Israel/Palestine (pp. 199-218). London: Routledge. Halabi, Usama (2011). Legal analysis and critique of some surveillance methods used by Israel. In E. Zureik, D. Lyon & Y. Abu-Laban (eds) Surveillance and Control in Israel/Palestine (pp. 199-218). London: Routledge. Ilan, Shahar (2009/03/15). Plan to introduce biometric IDs stirs privacy debate, Haaretz. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1070793.html Ilan, Shahar (2008/05/18). Police wiretaps climb sharply in peripheral areas, Haaretz.http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=984365 Ilan, Shahar (2007/12/18). Knesset okays establishment of “Big Brother” database for police’. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=935812&contrassID=0&subCon trassID=0 Isin, Engin F. (2004). The neurotic citizen, Citizenship Studies, 8(3): 217-235. Jeffay, Nathan (2009/08/12). Israel poised to pass national I.D. database law, The Jewish Daily. http://www.forward.com/articles/112033/ (accessed March 9, 2010). Klein, N. (2007). How War has Turned into a Brand, The Guardian, June 16. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2007/jun/16/israel.comment1 Kloosterman, K. (2010/03/16). Israel’s Top 10 airport security technologies, The Matzav Network. http://matzav.com/israels-top-10-airport-security-technologies Lis, J. (2009/12/16) ‘MKs pass controversial bill to set up biometric database’, Haaretz. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1133498.html Loewenstein, J. (2006). Identity and movement control in the OPT, Forced Migration, 26: 24-26. Lyon, D. (2001). Surveillance Society: Monitoring Every Day Life. Philadephia, PA: Open University Press. Lyon, D. (2007). Surveillance Studies: An Overview. Cambridge: Polity Press. Marshall, T. H. (1973). Class, Citizenship, and Social Development. Wesport, CT.: Greenwood. Morley, J. (2012). Israel’s Drone Dominance, Salon.com. http://www.salon.com/2012/05/15/israels_drone_dominance/singleton/ OpenNet Initiative (2009). Internet filtering in Gaza and the West Bank. http://opennet.net/research/profiles/gazawestbank Oren, A. (2010/02/17) ‘Under surveillance / Big Brother changes everything’, Haaretz. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1150121.html Palmås, K. 2011. Predicting What You’ll Do Tomorrow: Panspectric Surveillance and the contemporary Corporation. Surveillance & Society 8(3): 338-354.


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Pfeffer, A. (2009/11/01). In Israel, racial profiling doesn't warrant debate, or apologies. Haaretz. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1141297.html Rappaport, A. (2010). Lessons for the IDF from the Second Lebanon War, Begin Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, Paper number 85, Bar Ilan University, Israel. Hebrew. Rygiel, K. (2008). Citizenship as Government: Disciplining Populations Post-9/11. In J. Leatherman (ed.). Discipline and Punishment in World Politics (pp.85-110). New York: Palgrave and MacMillan. Sclove, R. (2000). Privacy and Power: Computer Databases and Metaphors of Information Privacy. Unpublished Manuscript. Tawil-Souri, H. (2011). The Hi-Tech Enclosure of Gaza. In Larudee, M. (ed). Gaza-Palestine: Out of the Margins. Ibrahim Abu-Lughod Institute of International Studies Birzeit University, Ramallah. Webster, F. (1999). Theories of the Information Society: Second Edition. Routledge. Whitaker, R. (2011). Behavioural profiling in Israel aviation security as a tool for social control. In E. Zureik, D. Lyon & Y. Abu-Laban (eds), Surveillance and control in Israel/Palestine: Population, Territory and Power. London: Routledge. World Bank (2008a). West Bank and Gaza Telecommunications Sector Note: Introducing competition in the Palestinian Telecommunications Sector. http://web.worldbank.org/external/default/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2008/03/20/00033 3037_20080320052257/Rendered/PDF/429870WP0GZ0Te10Box327342B01PUBLIC1.pdf World Bank (2008b). Introducing competition in the Palestinian Telecommunications Sector’. http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/COUNTRIES/MENAEXT/WESTBANK GAZAEXTN/0,,contentMDK:21698862~menuPK:294386~pagePK:141137~piPK:141127~ theSitePK:294365,00.html Yoaz, Y. (2007/09/25). Secret clause lets Shin Bet get data from cell phone firms, Haaretz.com. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/906489.html Zarchin, Tomer (2009/10/15). Secret police unit monitoring Israeli citizens, Haaretz, http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1120635.html Zurawski, N. (2005). ‘I Know Where You Live!’ Aspects of Watching, Surveillance and Social Control in a Conflict Zone (Northern Ireland). Surveillance & Society 2(4): 498-512 Zureik, E, Lyon, D, and Abu-Laban, Y. (Eds.) (2010). Surveillance and Control in Israel/Palestine. London: Routledge.


M. Strano, H. Hrachovec, F. Sudweeks and C. Ess (eds). Proceedings Cultural Attitudes Towards Technology and Communication 2012, Murdoch University, Australia, 38-50.

THE MAKING OF ONLINE IDENTITY The use of creative method to support young people in their reflection on age and gender PATRIK HERNWALL Department of Computer and Systems Stockholm University, Sweden AND ANDRA SIIBAK Institute of Journalism and Communication, Södertörn University, Sweden School of Communication, Media and IT, University of Tartu, Estonia

Abstract. In the .GTO.project our ambition is to study how young people (10 to 14 years old) in Estonia and Sweden construct and normalise gender and age, as markers of identity and identity development, in their online interactions. After conducting interview studies on how young people experience on- and offline interactions, and their intertwining, as well as online ethnographic studies of online presentations, we went on with the third phase of the project: creative workshops with young people. In these workshops, young people in groups of four were to create fictitious online characters. In the analysis of these, we focus on how power differentials and identity markers such as age and gender are constructed and negotiated.

1. Social Networking Sites and Identity The user of digital media can be described as a content producer in a participatory media culture (Jenkins, 2006) who moves between the roles of consumer and producer. This possibility of taking active part in the creation of media content is considered (c.f. Poster, 1995) one of the characteristics that distinguish digital media from traditional media (television, radio, newspapers, and so on) and the more passive (no real possibility of influencing or creating content) forms of media consumption. Obviously, this trait of digital media has been all the more prominent with e.g. web 2.0 services, putting increased emphasis on user-produced and/or user-influenced content. As the user also can become a producer, or “produser” with the terminology of Bruns (2006), the mutually affecting relation between the media and the user does become a central quality of digital media and digital media use. In this respect, digital media are


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constantly “under construction” (as was the insistence of the ever-present logo of mid1990’s Internet), challenging the notions of final version and definite truth. Young people interacting with digital media are thus “produsers” not just of media content, but also metaphorically can be understood as active “produsers” in the construction of personal identity. When creating a gaming avatar, when writing on their personal blog, or when publishing personal information on a SNS (social networking site), the user is interacting with the representation of oneself. This self is created before the eyes of the “produser” and hence also open to negotiation. In the postmodern notion, identity can be described as fluid (Turkle, 1995), non-stable and nomadic (Braidotti, 1994; Kennedy, 2006). In line with this, Valentine (2004) refers to West and Fenstermaker and “the intersection of identities in terms of a doing, a more fluid coming together, of contingencies and discontinuities, clashes and neutralizations, in which positions, identities, and differences are made and unmade, claimed and rejected” (Valentine 2004 p.14). Inherent in this view of fluidity is also that identity is incomplete (Haraway, 1991), fragmented (Turkle, 1995) and partial (Haraway, 1991). This means that the identity is a multidimensional relational phenomenon (Holm Sørensen, 2001). An underlying assumption with Turkle, and to some degree also with Haraway, as with many others (e.g. Bruckman, 1993; Stone, 1995; Petkova, 2005) is that the possibility of acting anonymously on the internet will foster not only identity explorations but also carry with it emancipatory power (Rheingold, 1993; Stone, 1995). Fascinating as these studies and arguments may be, identity exploration or the construction of new or alternative identities, at least in the meaning of presenting yourself on the Internet as someone (or something) else than your actual physical self, are rare. Rather, Internet identity construction seems to invite to identity work as grounded in everyday experiences (Baym, 1998; Mowbray, 2000). If there are dimensions of experimentation, this identity work seems to be more of “identity tourism” (Nakamura, 2001) repeating social structures and hierarchies. Still, the participation on different social networking sites do imply a certain focus on the re-presentation of the self (Hernwall, 2009). This re-presentation of the self frequently mirror the dualistic gendered, aged, racial (etc.) power structures of the physical world (Cooper, 2007; Li, 2005; Nakamura, 2002; Siibak, 2010). Hence, online communication seem to encourage work on the complex weave of societal power structures that make up the fluid and relational identity, rather than identity explorations. On the contrary, the youth on SNS seem to construct identities that are highly influenced by the media and advertisement industries (Nakamura, 2002; Siibak, 2006, 2007, 2008; Young 2008; Strano 2008; Mikkola, Oinas and Kumpulainen, 2008). It is thus likely to conclude that the growing distribution as well as use of internet and social media affects the conditions for identity construction. One of the most pregnant aspects of this is how the use of the internet has become intertwined with everyday life. In the.GTO.project1 we have focused on how young people (age 10 to 14 years old) construct and normalize identity markers such as age and gender in their online

1 The research project “Construction and normalisation of gender online among young people in Estonia and Sweden” (2009-2012). See also http://mt.sh.se/GTO.


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interactions. Based on experiences from interviews and online observations, we set up creative workshops with young people (age 14 years old) inviting them to construct fictitious online characters. Our focus here was especially on their use of power differentials and identity markers such as age and gender.

2. Age, Gender – and Intersectionality When the affordances of a popular SNS are related to the subject’s life-world, what takes shape as affordances are the interference of cultural values, societal expectations and personal motives. Taking that interference as a starting ground for understanding human action, the affordances are developed out of a sociocultural environment in consequence making them inextricably intertwined with power differentials and identity markers such as gender, age, ethnicity, sexuality, disability, class, etc. Or, in other words, affordances carry with them factual as well as experienced power structures, power differentials and identity markers. With inspiration from intersectionality theory (Lykke, 2003, 2010; McCall, 2005; de los Reyes and Mulinari, 2005) the power differentials and identity markers “age” and “child” can be understood as intersecting with other such analytic categories as gender, ethnicity, class, etc. Such categories should be interpreted as sociocultural categorizations that are not fixed categories but mutually influencing and influenced by human interpretation and action (c.f. Lykke, 2010). Thereby we assemble structure, process and subjectivity and advocate a doing gender perspective that “characterizes identity as a fluid coming together” (Valentine, 2004, p.14). Previously in the.GTO.project we have studied (a) how young people experience the meeting between on- and offline world with regard to online identity constructions, and (b) how young people construct identity in online social networks. Semi-structured interviews with the tweens (Siibak, 2010) and visual analysis of profile images (Siibak, 2009a, 2009b) indicate that in order to gain acceptance by the wider online community, the representation of males and females in the contemporary media and posing strategies of high-ranking online community members are often used as role-models when constructing one’s online identity. These findings confirm the claims of Horsely (2006) according to whom the celebrities often provide a “reference point” for the general public through which personal identity can be understood. Furthermore, Horsely (2006, p. 196) emphasises the social function of popular media that serves as a ““map” for upon which explorations of identity may be charted”. The findings of our previous studies (Siibak 2010, 2009a, 2009b) suggests that Estonian girls seem to share a strong need to earn the acceptance and recognition of their peers through emphasising their looks, as being ‘cute’ is considered to be an important aspect forming the overall value standard among young girls. Our research (Siibak 2010, 2009a, 2009b; Siibak and Hernwall, 2011; Hernwall and Siibak, 2011) also indicates that SNS profile images of girls are often built upon their interpretations of womanhood, which does not just involve wearing make-up (especially lip gloss and eye liner) and extensive accessories, but also include the style of posing and facial expressions. From this, we can conclude that with regard to their expressed experiences as well as their online actions, age is an important marker; gender is being understood stereotypically; the sexual identity of


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both girls and boys are stereotyped, even though the boys are less sexualized; boys have strong opinion about heteronormativity (and especially on male homosexuals); that comments and feedback on postings are very important and hence the choice of pictures to publish is a very serious matter. With these tentative results, we wanted to work together with young people of this age, to further understand how identity is constructed and normalized in online everyday interactions.

3. Creative Methods We made use of an approach David Gauntlett (2007, p. 3) has referred to as “the new creative methods” where people are asked “to spend time applying their playful or creative attention to the act of making something symbolic or metaphorical, and then reflecting on it”. Although some authors have also criticized the approach mainly for the “naïve empiricism” and “naïve political arguments” (Buckingham 2009, p. 635) that have sometimes been used when listing to the strengths of the approach, and others (Bragg, 2011; Piper & Frankham, 2007) have referred to a number of unique challenges such methods offer, we decided to explore the potential of this approach for analyzing how (gender) identity is constructed by the tweens. Hence, when planning our workshop we took into both the positive feedback as well as the criticisms the approach has received and relied on experiences of other researchers who have made use of action-oriented research methods in order to study some phenomenon in the life-worlds of children or young people. The advocates of visual and creative research methods argue that the act of ‘creating’ something is not only elemental to the human condition but has also “spanned the evolution of humankind” (Posser and Loxely, 2008, p. 32). In this context it is important to note that David Gauntlett (Gauntlett and Holzwarth, 2006, p. 2) regards creative methods as “an enabling methodology”, referring to the fact that the main idea of the method is based on the assumption that people have something interesting to communicate and they can do it in a creative manner. Furthermore, according to Gauntlett (2007, p. 182) making use of creative methods gives research participants the opportunity to communicate different kinds of information, i.e. information that might not be gained when using more traditional qualitative approaches like focus-groups or individual interviews. For instance, Gauntlett (2007, p. 115) has argued that when getting children actively engaged in the research process itself allows the youth to “communicate what was important to them” and also to “bring into surface” impressions and feelings of a subject matter which more conventional research methods may not access (Gauntlett, 2007, p. 126).

4. Student Workshops on Identity Construction Online We hosted two workshops with students from junior high school. One workshop took place in Stockholm, Sweden, and another one in Tartu, Estonia; with Swedish and Estonian pupils respectively. In both cases we had rented a room outside of the school environment; in Estonia in an activity centre and in Sweden in the local Community


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Centre. We did meet with the pupils beforehand, when visiting them in class and presenting ourselves as well as the research project. At this occasion we also introduced the coming workshop, describing the workshop method, the theme of the workshop (“what meaning online world has in the lifeworld of young people”), and emphasized the fact that taking part of the workshop should not be seen as part of one’s schoolwork (i.e. they where not to be assessed, even though their teachers urged them to participate). We were also explicit on the fact that all the material produced during the workshops were confidential and using only for the academic purposes and the participants and their opinions expressed during the workshops were to be anonymous. Each student was also given a written description of the research project and the aims of the workshop which they could take home to show to their parents. Both workshops comprised of 13-14 year old students who attended the same class and hence, knew each other well. Our final sample comprised of those students who were interested in taking part of the study and whose parents has signed the written consent form stating that their child may participate. There were 17 students participating in Tartu workshop, and 16 students took part of the workshop in Stockholm; in both cases the students were randomly grouped into groups of four-five during the workshop. In the first part of the workshop the participants were introduced to the theme “Construct an online character, age 10 years old” (see Figure 1). Then they were to make up this character together in small groups by drawings and accompanied with written statements/characterizations. Each group had at their table papers, pens, crayons, post-it notes, etc. to use freely. We did not give any instructions nor did we mention the gender of the imaginary character the students were to construct. Each group could make this decision by themselves. All in all, two imaginary girl and two boy characters were developed during both of the workshops. In the following stage of the workshop, the students where to draw and describe the possible social media platforms this imaginary character might be using. These two stages where then repeated, but with instructions of making the character 12, and eventually 14, years old coupled with written statements. After having drawn and written about the 12 years old character, the young where handed laptop computers (all of which had Internet access) and were given an opportunity to continue working on constructing this imaginary character on the computer. Although all the groups both in Estonia and in Sweden hence decided to construct a 14 year-old character by creating them a profile on the Internet, Estonian students did not make any drawings of the 14 years old character. Rather they went straight on continue developing the imaginary characters for whom they had already created “personal” Facebook profiles. The Swedish pupils did make drawings of also the 14 years old, as well as updating their online profiles. All these assignments given during the workshops were based on the assumption that sketches drawn and multimodal content produced by the youth in our study are indications of virtual identity constructions and online practices among the young which have caught their attention and have thus in turn framed particular aspects of the overall (design)-message. Therefore, as the participants in our study could delete, add, modify all the content they produced during the workshop, we believe their creative and playful explorations of (online) identities of tweens contain a mixture of their real as


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well as fictional opinions (e.g. interests from (pop)-culture, celebrities they refer to, etc.), feelings and battles they associate and encounter in their everyday lives as tweens. In other words, as “the design rests on the possibility of choice” (Kress, 2010, p. 28), we can learn a lot “from the stories that told and the way they are told” (Gauntlett, 2007, p.103) through such creative processes.

Figure 1. Scene from the workshop (Estonia). Thus, when starting off with hand-drawn sketches we did encourage them to take as a starting point their everyday life experiences and associations of online identity work. This proved to be a good strategy. When handed out the computers at a later stage of the workshop, the focus did shift from not just the collectively created character to fascination with findings on the Internet. But also, the focus shifted from the group conversation to interaction with the screen. The first phase of the workshop could perhaps be characterized as tween peer norms about online identity work, whereas the later phase could be described as shift into internet culture as a source of inspiration in this identity work. Furthermore, as we are interested in identity constructions among tweens, rather than individual identity processes, working in groups give us two advantages: (i) the identities constructed was based in a joint reflexive process, and (ii) we could take part of this process by talking with the groups as well as we did make video and audio recordings of the group works. In other words, for the sake of the project we considered it to be important to have the students work in groups as Gauntlett (2007, p. 96) has argued that group engagement in creative processes has “parallels with how we come to form understandings in everyday life, through interactions with peers”.


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At the same time, it has to be acknowledged that the creative content produced by the tweens in Estonia and Sweden not only reflect their interests but focus also on “the assumed interest of the recipient of the sign” (Kress, 2010, p. 78). In other words, the narratives created can “also convey the subjective attitudes about the persons to whom the narrative is addressed (Deese, 1983, p. xv). In this context however, it is important to take into account the intended audience addressed with these creative assignments: our research team could be seen as the main audience for the drawings, whereas in case of the SNS profile entries the intended audience consisted both of the users added into the “friends” lists as well as all the other users of the SNS communities. Still, as the relative trustworthiness of image-based research is “best achieved via multiple images in conjunction with words” (Prosser, 1998, p. 106), in the final phase of the workshop we asked each group to present and explain their work done to all the others and a more general discussion on the theme of online identity creation followed. We asked each group to interpret their own work so as not to impose our own, adult and researcher’s interpretations and meanings (see Gauntlett, 2007, p. 125) to the drawings and SNS profile entries of the tweens. In this respect, as suggested by Harper (1998, p. 35) “the researcher becomes a listener” whose intention should be to keep “the consequent interest in and acknowledgment of the co-construction of knowledge between participant and researcher” (Toon, 2008, p. 22). In the following analysis of the workshop we also show some illustrative examples.

5. Analysis of the Workshop Material Buckingham (2009) has argued that when analyzing the creative artifacts like drawings, researchers should be reminded not only to focus on the oral (or written) interpretations of the makers and the group and by doing so dismissing the visual dimension of their study. Although it might appear very tempting to rely only on the explanations and descriptions made by the participants, Buckingham (2009) warns the researchers not to take everything the participants say at face value. In our study we also found the theory of reading images by Kress and van Leeuwen (1996) and multimodality by Kress (2010) helpful when interpreting the visual data gathered. However, as there is no “’one size fits all’ approach” (Buckingham 2009) when analyzing visuals, we do acknowledge the need for additional theories and ways for understanding the data produced through creative methods. The analysis of the online characters created by the groups, tentatively suggests that age and gender are the most prominent markers of identity. Furthermore they are also important power differentials as they are intertwined with not just each other, but also with the possible actions of the subject. In this early stage of the analysis, we like to illustrate the kind of multimodal works produced by the young at the workshops. All of the groups made (a) drawings using paper and crayons accompanied with illustrative/descriptive written text and (b) an online user profile for the created persona. The first illustration is from a group at the Swedish workshop, developing the persona “Jenny” (see Figure 2). In this illustration Jenny is 10 years old.


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10 years Geek for real Cool for real Jenny [name of school] Fjortis 1 girl “friend” from school Half asian Much makeup Sits much at FB Has a blog Skip school Bad grades Cocky. No real friends FALSE Smokes, drinks Single mother, alcoholic

Figure 2. Jenny. Age 10 years old. Sweden. (our translation on the right) Thomson (2008) has argued that the analysis of images in general, and the ones made by children and young people in particular, needs to be a highly conscious activity as young people’s images “may not be amendable to straightforward adult readings” (Thomson, 2008, p. 10). This is also one of the reasons why we asked the young to both draw the imaginary character, write the textual description of the character and later to orally present this work to the others, as we believed that only the “picture and words together” (Gauntlett, 2007, p.107) form a meaningful package which could then be analyzed further by social scientists. One immediate impression is the difference in degree of details in the drawings. The Estonian drawings all held a similar level of accuracy (strictness), whereas the Swedish drawings differed greatly. Some of the Swedish drawings were made in a particularly naïve childish stick drawing like style. This can perhaps be said to mirror in the atmosphere in the respective rooms of the workshop: Both were out of school settings. This was a deliberate choice of ours, as we did want to give an impression of increased freedom/no grading as compared to the school (classroom) setting. One obvious thing visible in the drawings, is how they dramatize – and perhaps even over-dramatized – the changes in the character drawn. i.e. they were growing into drugs, depressions, family problems, school problems, etc. But also, when being 14 years old, many – if not all – of these problems had been if not sorted out so at least coped with. Furthermore, there seems to an interesting, and important, relationship between the social status of the character and his/hers use of SNS and computers in general. One interesting theme in the Swedish material is how a massive use of SNS, computer games, etc. seems to be intertwined with social exclusion and/or non-acceptable social


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behaviour. The most striking example here is Jenny, age 10, who is overdramatizing her appearance and Facebook use, trying (desperately, according to the youth/authors) to appear older than she is. Consequently, when using computers, and SNS, less frequently, the characters also have more friends, are beginning to be more socially accepted, and also get better grades. At the same time, as was most clear in the Estonian workshop, SNS was harbouring intimate friendships and online relationships. These Estonian characters eventually where acquainted online and developed interactions between each others, social interactions that did continue also for some time after the workshop ended (see Figure 3). Karl-Mark Sinilind Guitarist, Ginder Leigh Band Studied: name of he school Engaged with Karoliina Olen Speaks Estonian and English First poster on the Wall (comment originally in English): check out Karl-Mark Sinilind, we created him today in AHHAA xD Second poster on the Wall (comments originally in English): I know you bastard! I greated you :DD 1 reply: Like a boss 2 reply: *created Poster: Ups :D Sibülle Sinimägi2: you are nice Tõnu Tõukemõnuu3: what, you are trying to hit on him? Sibülle Sinimägi: am not trying, I am hitting on him :)) Tõnu Tõukemõnuu: stupid Sibülle Sinimägi: no yooouuu Tõnu Tõukemnuu: no yoooouuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu

Figure 3. Karl-Mark. 14 years old. Estonia (our translation on the right). In the later phase of the workshops each of the groups was supposed to introduce and comment upon the characters they had created and all the other participants were

2

Sibülle Sinimägi was an imaginary character created by the participants of the Tartu workshop. Tõnu Tõukemõnuu was another imaginary character created by the participants of the Tartu workshop.

3


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encouraged to ask for questions and voice their own opinions of the characters the others had come up with. We believe that structuring the workshops in this manner helped us to establish a “community within which meaning was negotiated and constructed” (Toon, 2008, p. 25). Furthermore, it also allowed us as researchers to observe not only how young people give meaning to social experiences (Denzin & Lincoln 1998), but also to witness how participants were encouraging each other to collaborate and to interpret the drawings made by others. In this respect, while specifying each others’ answers and questioning each other’s replies, the young participants in our workshops were actually constructing their shared reality. In fact, as creative research methods enable the research participants to actively to engage in the research process itself we believe the method offered the young an opportunity to “communicate what was important to them” (Gauntlett, 2007, p. 115) and thus to “bring into surface” impressions and feelings of a subject matter which might be more difficult to grasp with more conventional research methods (Gauntlett, 2007, p. 126).

6. Concluding Comment In this article, we have described an example of implementing creative research methodology in a research study involving young people, so as to illustrate what kind of empirical data has emanated from this process, and also the kind of results the analysis will bring. The workshops conducted with Estonian and Swedish tweens respectively give us a richer and more complex empirical data, allowing us to continue working on analyzing the gathered material further. There are obviously a number of qualities emanating from inviting young people to take active part in the process of creating empirical data. One such quality is, as Gauntlett (2007) stresses, that the informants are given the possibility to communicate aspects that are important to them. This is especially noteworthy as the participants in this workshop were young people, whose voices and opinions are often considered of lesser value (underscored by not having the right to vote). In that, we need to be sensitive to the interests and experiences of the persons invited. Hence, the findings of a number of more empirical studies which made use of more traditional research methodologies were used to form the frame of reference for the themes we focused upon during the workshops. Another quality with creative research methods such as the workshop here described is that it generates another kind of empirical data, making it possible to reach new kinds of understanding of the phenomena studied. The latter will be also our next challenge.

Acknowledgements This article was written as part of the project ‘Construction and Normalisation of Gender Online among Young People in Estonia and Sweden’ (the.GTO.project), financed by the Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies (Östersjöstiftelsen). Andra Siibak is also thankful for the support of the ETF grant no. 8527 and target financed project SF0180017s07.


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Kress, G. (2010). Multimodality. A social semiotic approach to contepmporary communication. London: Routledge Kress, G. & van Leeuwen, T. (1996). Reading Images. The Grammar Of Visual Design. London, New York: Routledge Li, Q. (2005). Gender and CMC: A review on conflict and harassment. Australian Journal of Educational Technology. 21(3), 382-406. Lykke, N. (2003). Intersektionalitet – ett användbart begrepp för genusforskningen. Kvinnovetenskaplig tidskrift 1.03 sid 47-56 (9). Lykke, N. (2010). Feminist Studies. A Guide to Intersectional theory, Methodology and writing. London: Routledge. McCall, L. (2005). Intersektionalitetens komplexitet, Kvinnovetenskaplig tidskrift 2-3 2005, pp. 31-56 (25). Mikkola, H., Oinas, M-M., & Kumpulainen, K. (2008) Net-based identity and body image among young IRC-Gallery users. In Karen McFerrin et al. (eds), Proceedings of society for information technology and teacher education international conference 2008, (pp. 30803085). Chesapeake, VA: AACE. Mowbray, M. (2000). Neither male nor female: Other - gendered chat in little Italy. M/C: A Journal of Media and Culture, 3(4) http://journal.media-culture.org.au/0008/gendered.php Retrieved December 5, 2011. Nakamura, L. (2002). Cybertypes. race, ethnicity, and identity on the Internet. London & New York: Routledge. Nakamura, L. (2001). Head hunting in cyberspace. Identity tourism, Asian avatars and racial passing on the Web. Women’s Review of Books, XVIII(5), 10-11. Petkova, D. (2005). Identity and the human interaction on the Internet. Limitations of current social research and prospects of future analysis. Paper presented at the First European Communication Conference, Amsterdam, 24–26 November. Collection of papers on CDROM. Piper, H., & Frankham, J. (2007). Seeing voices and hearing pictures: Image as discourse and the framing of image-based research. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 28(3), 373–387. Poster, M. (1995). The Second Media Age. Cambridge: Polity press. Prosser, J. & Loxely, A. (2008). Introducing Visual Methods. ESRC National Centre for Research Methods Review Paper. Retrieved February 16, from http://eprints.ncrm.ac.uk/420/1/MethodsReviewPaperNCRM-010.pdf Prosser, J. (1998). The Status of Image-based Research. In J. Prosser (ed.) Image-based Research. A Sourcebook for Qualitative Researchers (pp.97-112). London: Falmer Press. Rheingold, R. (1993). The Virtual community. Homesteading on the electronic frontier. Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley. Siibak, A. & Hernwall, P. (2011). "Looking like my favourite Barbie" – Online gender construction of tween girls in Estonia and in Sweden. Studies of Transition States and Societies, 3(2), 57-68. Siibak, A. (2010). Performing the norm. Estonian Pre-Teens Perceptions About Visual SelfPresentation Strategies on Social Networking Website Rate. Medien Journal, 4, 35-47. Siibak, A. (2009). Self-presentation of the `digital generation` in Estonia, Tartu: Tartu Ülikooli kirjastus Siibak, A. (2009b). Constructing the Self through the Photo Selection: The Importance of Photos on Social Networking Websites. Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, 3(1), online www.cyberpsychology.eu. Stone, R. A. (1995). The war of desire and technology at the close of the mechanical age. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.


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M. Strano, H. Hrachovec, F. Sudweeks and C. Ess (eds). Proceedings Cultural Attitudes Towards Technology and Communication 2012, Murdoch University, Australia, 51-66.

PARTICIPATORY, VISIBLE AND SUSTAINABLE Designing a Community Website for a Minority Group AMALIA G. SABIESCU, MATTEO AGOSTI AND PAOLO PAOLINI Technology-Enhanced Communication Laboratory (TEC-Lab) Università della Svizzera Italiana, Lugano, Switzerland

Abstract. This paper tackles three aspects of community-based technological initiatives aimed to support minority groups’ public expression and communication: participation, visibility and sustainability. Participation requires the active involvement of the community members in various project phases (from design to evaluation), sharing decisional power with project leaders. Visibility refers to the capacity of community messages to reach a relevant audience outside the boundaries of the community itself. Sustainability indicates the capacity of a project to continue, under the control and management of the local community, beyond its “supported” lifetime. The mutual influence of these three dimensions is examined in general and also in the light of a specific case study: an initiative involving a Romani community in rural Romania, having as main outcome the development of a community website (www.romanivoices.com/podoleni).

1. Introduction This paper discusses the potential of digital media for supporting the expression and communication goals of minority cultures. In particular, it looks into means for ensuring that initiatives concerned with giving visibility to minority ethnic groups are relevant to community upheld views, reach proper communication goals, and have a potential for continuity beyond the lifetime of a project. We identify and explicate three core concepts that we deem essential for the success of such initiatives: participation, sustainability and visibility. Participation refers to a community’s involvement in an initiative, spanning different stages (from project design to evaluation), and at various levels (from consultation to collective action, Kanji and Greenwood, 2001). The concept of proper visibility indicates the capacity of a communication project to reach the target audience and to deliver the messages reflecting adequately a minority community’s views. Sustainability designates the capacity of a project to continue beyond its lifetime under the control and management of the local community. The paper discusses the above issues in general and also in the light of a specific case: designing a community website with and for a Romani community in rural Romania. The case data are used for exemplifying and critically assessing practical as well as conceptual relations among the three constructs introduced: participation,


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visibility and sustainability. These aspects can be mutually reinforcing (e.g. the relation between participation and sustainability), but they can also generate a tension that needs to be calmed (e.g. the relation between people’s control over the content production process and the quality of the final content).

2. Research Background and Rationale Investigating the potential of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for minority cultures, two characteristics of the latter should be considered: (1) the existence of unique cultural systems and the constant challenge in perpetuating them, against pressure towards assimilation from a majority culture (Verkuyten, 2005: 120), and (2) disempowerment at economic, political and social level, coupled with domination, marginalization or oppression from majority groups (Meyers, 1984: 7). Minority cultures are bearers of genuine cultural and knowledge systems often in danger of being assimilated. Digital media can support the systematic documentation, interpretation, archiving and publishing of cultural productions, in particular intangible heritage (stories, dances, performances, songs, etc.). Possible outcomes include digital archives for restricted community use (e.g. Christen, 2008), websites for a larger audience, or networked spaces for enabling geographically dispersed communities from the same ethnic group to communicate and share content (e.g. Srinivasan, 2006). In addition ICT can be used to alleviate minorities’ condition of marginalization, oppression or disempowerment. This condition can be synthesized in the notion of ‘voice poverty’, where voice is illustrative of lack of power to express and be heard at a social, cultural and political level (Tacchi, 2008). Technological solutions can enable access to information, boost literacy and digital literacy skills, and support advocacy campaigns and communication with relevant stakeholders, e.g. regional authorities. This paper reports on research involving a particular minority culture, the Roma. The term ‘Roma’, and its derivatives ‘Romani’ or ‘Romany’, have replaced the traditional ‘Gypsy’ designation and are now widely adopted by international organizations as the label of a heterogeneous ethnic group inhabiting different nations across Europe, but also in the Asian, Australian, and American continents. The Romani ethnic group needs to be distinguished from the Romanian population, inhabitants of Romania, with a completely different history and culture. Romani studies trace the origins of the Roma in India, wherefrom they fled in several migration waves, whose exact whereabouts are still object of scholarly dispute (Fraser, 2003). At present, they may be considered a national minority as they enjoy citizenship status in their host countries, but also a transnational minority (Tcherenkov and Laederich, 2004). Romania had over 600’000 citizens of Romani ethnic origin officially registered in the 2011 Census (INS, 2012), while unofficial numbers are considered to be much higher, since many Roma are not legally registered. The studies conducted from the 1989 Revolution until the present on the situation of the Roma in Romania span issues ranging from poverty, unemployment and lack of professional qualifications (Zamfir and Zamfir, 1993); illiteracy and lack of formal education, especially for Roma women (ibid.); poor hygiene and housing conditions, discrimination and violent assault (Szente, 1996); and social and educational segregation.


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The study presented in this paper focuses on the potential of ICTs for supporting minority communication, spanning cultural expression as well as developmental concerns, e.g. poverty. We address issues related to public, rather than intra-group communication, and employ a community-centred approach, focused on the generation of long-term benefits. The main questions posed by this study are: (1) Can specific processes and methodologies ensure that digital media solutions for minority public communication have the proper impact on the target audience, while being respectful of local epistemological and cultural protocols? (2) Are there discernable cause-effects relationships between processual elements of ICT-based initiatives and the community benefits envisaged? The questions do not require a Yes/No answer, but compel us to dig into the methodological and practical intricacies of technology interventions in minority contexts for understanding the relations established among features of the local context, features of the intervention and the measurable effects of such interventions. 2.1. CONCEPTUAL CONSTRUCTS Let us examine some general features of the constructs investigated. Participation Participation concerns the engagement of a community’s members in the various phases of a technological initiative. Drawing on Kanji and Greenwood (2001), community involvement can happen at one or several of five program stages: Agenda definition; Proposal development; Preparation; Implementation; Analysis of results; and/or Dissemination and Action. Engagement can be defined at five different levels: Compliance, Consultation, Cooperation, Co-learning and Collective action. Proper visibility In its general sense, “visibility” refers to enabling public awareness of communication products. For minority cultures two specific concerns must be considered: (1) Is content (with respect to meaning and the form of presentation) aligned to the views of the minority culture expressing it? (2) Are the intended messages effectively transmitted to the target audience? These concerns are grasped by the concept of “proper visibility”, which we tackle in this paper with respect to three dimensions: (a) Correctly identifying the external audience (e.g. Regional authorities? Central government? General public?) (b) Correctly identifying the “key messages” to be delivered to the audiences. (c) Selecting the proper technologies (e.g. TV, radio, web, social spaces, etc.) Sustainability Sustainability can be defined as “the ability of a project or intervention to continue in existence after the implementing agency has departed” (Harris et al. 2003, p.2). Sustainability depends to a great extent on a community’s openness to the initiative and the acknowledgement of its usefulness and relevance. A community’s social capital, inclusive of communal values and aspirations, needs to be taken into account as a key factor for sustainability (Simpson, 2005). Simpson proposes that a sustainable


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community-based technological initiative needs to take into account the interplay among four essential components: • Physical infrastructure: the physical equipment and its distribution in the community. • Soft technology: relevant knowledge and skills for managing the initiative, which can be boosted through education and training. • Social infrastructure: local organisations, institutions, networks, services and resources that enable social communication and networking. • Social capital: intangible social features, e.g. sense of community; collective values and visions.

3. Case Study: Romani Voices “Romani Voices” has been part of a doctoral research project concerned with assessing the conditions for the introduction of ICTs in minority contexts for enabling knowledge production, expression and communication practices aligned to a community’s communication needs and goals. The applied part of the study included a pilot and two community-wide content production initiatives with Romani people in rural Romania. The project called for formulating an ICT-based communication solution for each community’s communication needs, and moved to implement the community solution through the participation of its members. The case reported in this paper involved a community of settled, or assimilated, Romani people in a village with a mixed Romanian-Roma population. 3.1. THE COMMUNITY Podoleni is an agricultural village in South-Eastern Romania, with a significant percentage of Romani people. (47,08% Romani people were officially registered in 2009, according to the Urbanization Plan of the commune Barcea, to which the village pertains.) The Roma inhabitants work mainly in agriculture, constructions, gardening, or have seasonal unqualified jobs; the village has a long musical tradition and some of its members also draw revenues from singing by voice or instruments. The Romani community inhabits a segregated area of the village. Most social interaction takes place among the Romani members, however peaceful relations are maintained as well with the Romanian villagers. With respect to educational facilities, the village has a primary school in its premises and access to secondary education is ensured in the commune Barcea. The main problems faced by the Roma in the village revolve around poverty and the difficulties of daily life: the lack of housing sites (as a result many nuclear families live in the same building), potential danger of flooding, and severe unemployment. 3.2. METHODOLOGICAL FRAMEWORK The intervention aimed to provide a technological solution for the community’s communication needs, and to enable effective participation of members in setting up and implementing the communication intervention during the course of the project. This


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process involved: (1) Activity design: shaping the workflow leading to the construction of an effective communication artefact; and (2) Product design: designing the communication artefact. The methodological framework blended ethnography, Participatory Action Research (PAR) and user-centred web design methods across three intertwined phases: (1) Ethnographic research; (2) Content production; and (3) Design of the web portal. The combination of ethnography and PAR enabled a flexible design of the initiative, in which the outcomes of each phase were used to inform the design of the subsequent phases (Table 1). Table 1. The methodological framework. Phase Ethnographic research (researcher-led)

Methods Data collection: observation, semistructured interviews, focus groups, analysis of site documentation

1.b.

Ethnographic research (collaborative)

Data collection: focus groups, camera interaction (observation, retrospective reporting)

2

Content production

Production: Inquiry cycle modified through PAR techniques Data collection: observation, group discussions

Database of audio-video contents Final list of content themes

3

Content organization

Web design methods: card sorting

Website information architecture Edited digital content

1.a.

Outcomes A socio-cultural and media usage profile of the community Content themes An oral history guide Cooperation patterns in technology usage

3.2.1. Ethnographic Research. The main purposes of this phase were to (1) build relations with local people, (2) stimulate participation, (3) spread awareness of and negotiate potential project benefits, and (4) collect requirements for the design of the initiative. Research included two different directions: researcher-led ethnography and collaborative ethnography. Researcher-led ethnography used as main data collection instruments emergent and semi-structured interviews, focus groups, participant observation, and analysis of site documentation. Emergent interviews were used at the beginning of the fieldwork, as a means for allowing local themes and issues to emerge from participants, rather than being imposed externally. The analysis of these themes was further used to inform the design of the other data collection tools. Semi-structured interviews (n=30) and focus groups (n=4) examined patterns of socio-cultural participation, as well as media usage. The collaborative ethnography phase marked a first step towards placing the power over interpretation into the participants’ hands. The event that marked this transition was handing over a recording kit that contained a digital photo camera, an audio recorder and a video camera with a tripod, along with training in using the devices. The kit was given to the main informant family in the project, whose members


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were encouraged to use it themselves and to give it to other members of the community when there were significant happenings to be recorded. The data collected in this phase encompassed: (1) people’s opinions on the relevant community subjects to be documented (gathered through focus groups); (2) people’s direct indication of meaningful local subjects (gathered via interaction with ICTs); and (3) the actual dynamics created around the use of recording devices (gathered via interaction with ICTs). The key dimensions of analysis can be synthesized into seven questions: (1) (What?) Priorities for expression; (2) (Who?) People involved; (3) (In what form?) Media preference; (4) (How?) Production process; (5) (To whom?) Audience envisaged; (6) (For what purpose?) Expectations and return; (7) (Ethical issues) Privacy and data protection. Data resulting from this phase were synthesized into three outcomes that had a bearing on the design of the content production experience: (1) a list of themes for the content production experience; (2) an oral history guide that could be used as a questioning route in interviewing storytellers; and (3) an assessment of the dynamics of cooperation in using digital media. 3.2.2. Content Production. Content production followed a cyclical pattern based on PAR and an interpretation of the content creation model designed by the Community Informatics research centre at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, “The Inquiry Cycle” (Bruce and Bishop, 2008). After an initial experimentation with the original version of the model, based on a cycle of five steps (Ask-Investigate-Create-Discuss-Reflect), we arrived at a six-step model which was employed all throughout the content production phase: Inquiry-Planning-Creation-Observation-Discussion-Reflection. (1) Inquiry was conducted as a collective endeavour, focused on identifying and discussing the aspects to be tackled in a subsequent creation session. (2) Planning was done with main informants, or following leads from the community, and oversaw the organization of the subsequent creative sessions. (3) Creation referred to sessions in which stories, testimonials, interviews and events were recorded. These sessions were organized in the presence of the main facilitator or managed entirely by the community. (4) Observation was done as part of collective sessions for reviewing content. (5) Discussion sessions were focused retrospectively on the creation process. (6) Reflection was triggered by observation and discussion sessions. 3.2.3. Design of the Web Portal. Content was edited and organized in accordance with the usage prefigured by the community: online publishing. Design involved taking decisions for: (1) Content granularity: what is the unit of content consumption? (2) Information architecture: what is the overall organization form? (3) Content mapping: how are content chunks distributed on the structure? Card sorting methodology (Spencer and Warfel, 2004) was used for designing the information architecture. In the initial card sorting session, content samples were presented on cards and were also made available for playing on the computer; the content themes resulting from the content production phase were presented on different cards. Participants (n=4) were given the task of defining the main categories of the


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website taking into account the existing themes and the content samples. Based on the results in this initial design activity, a mock-up of the community website was created. The second design session had as specific objectives: to approve the final information architecture; to investigate the possibility of using an alternative path of access, based on keywords; to define the page design; to clarify the logic of relating content to categories; to define the granularity of content chunks and agree on ‘model’ content pieces. The main tools used were: a mock-up of the website, sample content playable on the computer, and a taxonomy of sample content by category and by keyword. We discussed the points connected with each of the objectives listed while browsing the website mock-up and playing sample audio-visual content on the computer. Based on the results of this session a first version of the website was created. The third design session had as its main purpose to approve the final website architecture and page design, as well as check content mapping. The main tools used were: the provisional version of the implemented website; content published online; and a taxonomy of content themes according to category and keyword. This session format was based on an open discussion triggered by a list of points drafted by the researcher, while reviewing the provisional version of the website and online content pieces. Based on the result of this session the final version of the website was implemented. 3.3. FIELDWORK RESULTS For space constraints, this section will focus on salient relevant results related to: (1) Communication goals; (2) Content production and organization strategy; and (3) Website management. (1) Communication goals. There was wide consensus that the best way to respond to the community’s needs was to create a platform for public expression. Other options that were presented and discussed, such as for instance a digital archive for internal community usage, have been dropped in unanimity. The communication platform was intended to meet two goals: generate awareness of people’s poverty and precarious life conditions; and improve the image of the Romani community, by allowing an insider’s view of genuine life, vivid traditions, and the values that the community held. (2) Content production and organization strategy. The project gave particular attention to ensuring genuine representation of community views and concerns not only at the level of the content produced, but also with respect to its organization in the final communication artefact. To ensure that the taxonomy used for content organization in the final website was based on a genuine reflection of community views, meaningful content themes were identified early in the project, starting with the collaborative ethnography phase. The list of themes was enriched and checked at key points with community members throughout the content production phase. This list was used during the first web design session, and it contained 35 themes, indicating values, daily life patterns, traditions, aspirations and issues faced by the community. The running themes that stood out the most were Poverty, Education, and Music, indicating a strong problem, an aspiration, and a featured tradition. During the first design session, a series of six core categories were identified and became the main website sections: Reintegration, Dialogue, Romani identity, Cultural traditions, Religion, and History. The list of themes was levelled to 32 keywords and further refined in subsequent


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sessions to fit publishable content. The content themes were used in the final website as keywords or tags, providing an access path to content alternative to browsing by category. (3) Website management. Once the project gained acceptance by community members, and especially by opinion leaders and community representatives, an agreement was set that the website will be managed by the local community on project completion. To make this feasible, a core group of persons has been appointed to take charge of the website. To enable effective training, the process of producing and publishing content (especially video content) was broken down into three parts: content production, editing and publishing. Guidelines were prepared for each of these three parts, used as part of training and for preparing a written practical guide. 3.4. WEBSITE REALISATION The best way of realising the website design was identified by assessing the potential of existing technological options against requirements generated in the website design phase. 3.4.1. Requirements Visibility. Having a website does not necessarily mean that it is going to be visible: content has to be easily crawled by search engines and syndicated across other websites. Regarding search engine optimization, content has to be semantically annotated, and the entire information architecture should be automatically translated into a dynamic sitemap suitable for search engines. The syndication could be done with the generation of an RSS feed. Integration with social media for facilitating content spreading was also taken into account. User friendliness. The technological solution had to be easy to use, and provided with a contextual help mechanism that would keep training costs low, considering that the website would continue to be managed by local people. Sustainability. The initial cost and the maintenance cost had to be kept low, especially for the point at which the website management would be completely left to the community. Content. The website had to be very flexible on content taxonomies and content organization. Given the large amount of multimedia items, storage and efficient streaming were also a significant concern. Multilingualism. The technological solution needed to provide content-level translation and interface translation for both end-users and content editors. 3.4.2. Desirable Technology Options The technological solution was based upon a Content Management System (CMS) for its potential to speed up the development process and facilitate maintenance. In addition, CMSs provide additional functionalities like content syndication (chunks of contents can be made available for other websites), content versioning, multilingual support, different type of styling (theming), etc. An initial selection shortlisted Joomla, WordPress and Drupal. In the end Drupal was selected for a number of reasons: overall efficiency; capable of representing and


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managing taxonomies, in an easy and effective way; possibility of customizing the administration interface (including contextual help), therefore dropping the learning curve for non-technical users. 3.4.3. Implementation Two broad categories of pages were identified: static pages and compound documents. Static page: the content is generic (e.g. disclaimer, credits, etc.) and weakly structured. The internal structure consist of a title and a body whose content can vary from text to images. These pages are ‘static’ in the sense that they are likely to vary very little over time. Compound document: these represent the core of the website and are structured in four different blocks: Basic information: these segments contain a title, a subject (sometimes this can be the name of the storyteller), an author or producer, the production date and the location where the information has been collected. Description: this can include the transcript of an audio or audio-visual piece of content, or a comment; in addition to text it can also contain media files, but without a predefined structure. Media: these segments host multimedia resources, including a preview image (mainly used in listing pages), a set of images (used to build a gallery), a video file, an audio file and a document. For a number of reasons, and especially in order to ensure fast streaming, we decided to rely on YouTube for video storage. In addition each video is completely annotated on YouTube and linked to the website, thus fostering incoming connections. Classification: comprising categories and tags. Categories (identified during the core card sorting sessions) are used to hierarchically classify compound documents. Tags (identified during content production work) are used to create additional groupings of compound documents based on community-relevant themes. The website information architecture provides three different levels of navigation: static pages, categories and tags. In addition, a free text search mechanism was added in order to facilitate finding resources, for example by looking into specific attributes of the compound document (i.e. author, dates, etc.). There are four types of pages being displayed: Homepage: this displays an introductory video that describes the community and three featured articles chosen by the website manager from the compound documents (Figure 1). Static pages: they are displayed as standard webpages, with a title and a description. The latter can be a rich description including images and videos, but without a predefined structure. Lists of compound documents: these pages are displayed after selecting a category/tag or as a search result. A page displays the list of compound documents belonging to the selected category/tag or that satisfy the search criteria (Figure 2). Compound document details: these pages display all the content of a compound document. Video files are embedded from YouTube; images are rendered as a gallery; audio files can be listened through an audio player; and additional documents can be downloaded as files (Figure 3).


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Figure 1. Homepage, Romani Voices in Podoleni website.

Figure 2. A list of compound documents generated for the tag “Folk music tradition�.

Figure 3. Details of a compound document: a gallery of images (left) and a video file (right).


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4. Discussion This section critically discusses the results of the case study, in the light of the research questions introduced in section 2. 4.1. PARTICIPATION, VISIBILITY AND SUSTAINABILITY: THE FORMULA 4.1.1. Local Participation and Project Ownership Local participation encompassed the direct involvement of the members in all phases of the initiative, including project design, content production and website design. Activities included communication (being informed on project progress and solicited feedback), consultation, negotiation and decision-making (deciding over the course of action in each project phase), and involvement in content production (e.g. filming, being interviewed). With respect to Kanji and Greenwood’s (2001) ladder of participation, it is to be noted that involvement was not situated at the same level for all members. Participation went from consultation with community members to cooperation with a core group that had a fundamental role in bringing everything to completion. It was during the last project phase, when the provisional version of the website was shared with community members, that participation went toward collective action: the field researcher together with the core community group identified the last steps to be taken for completing the website and ensuring the smooth transition of its management into the community’s hands. The participation formula was designed to contribute directly to cultivating members’ feeling of ownership of the initiative. “Ownership” refers to the sense of owning the initiative, subjectively felt by participants. In Romani Voices, ownership was cultivated by encouraging people’s participation starting from the project design phase and the definition of the project goals. Aside from participation we identified three factors that can influence the sense of ownership: role in the project, know-how, and perceived self-efficacy (Bandura, 2000). A high degree of ownership was visible in the members that had a key role in the project, participated in important activities and with the necessary know-how for running parts of the process. Key roles were played by the main informant family (which had a constant involvement all throughout the project) and the local councillor for the Roma (who had a fundamental role in ensuring collective approval of the initiative and led the website design phase). 4.1.2. Proper Visibility Ensuring proper visibility boiled down to understanding the optimal match among three dimensions: local content, audience to be reached, and technological solution. As far as content is concerned, community members were involved in identifying the main content themes (starting from the collaborative ethnography phase), producing associated content (during content production), and selecting it and deciding how content pieces were related and categorized in the final website (website design). The identification of the audience was a collaborative process involving the community and the field researcher during the collaborative ethnography phase. The technological options were assessed by the research team, including the field researcher and a technical expert, in the light of the communication goals, the type of content produced


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and the audience to be reached. Visibility per se (audience expansion) was considered a priority requirement; the technological solution was designed with a view to search engine optimization and social media were used for content spreading. 4.1.3. Sustainability Romani Voices has been thought out from its inception with a view to sustainability. Drawing on Simpson’s (2005) model of sustainable Community Informatics initiatives, we point to the following elements: (1) Physical and technological infrastructure. It was important that local people and especially the website management group had access to technology for producing content, publishing it and viewing it online once published. For content production, the recording kit initially given to the informant family was left on-site on project completion, and a new HD video-camera has been entrusted with the website management group. With respect to computer and Internet facilities, the village has a library which offers computer services; in addition, a small number of Roma people in the village have an Internet connection, and this number is on an ascending curve. (2) Soft technology. Digital literacy was extremely low in the community; also, community members lacked the skills needed to run a community website. To ensure project continuity, a core group of people with media literacy skills have been identified; with respect to management, the local councillor for the Roma took upon himself the task of continuing to manage the website, helped by his daughter who was a skilled computer and Internet user. The customized CMS has been designed to be user friendly, and its delivery to the community was accompanied by a set of guidelines, workflows and instructions for content production and website management. To smooth the transition to community management, the researchers offered free support for one year after the project’s end. (3) Social infrastructure. Most social interactions in the village are based on informal friendship and kinship relations. It was as a result of these relations that the project gradually gained entrance and acceptance. One of the most important elements was, however, its acceptance at the top-level of the Romani local administration, by the local councillor and the local expert for the Roma. One event which marked acceptance and interest in the community-managed continuity of the project was the public presentation of the website during a socio-cultural event organized in the village on occasion of the International Romani Day, celebrated on April 8. (4) Social capital. One of the reasons for the continuity of the project was its being able to match the ethics and values of the Romani people. On the one hand, it provided a channel for expressing who they really were and enabled them to fight discriminatory portrayals. On the other hand, communication and expressive arts are part of the traditional culture of the Roma. Being able to run an instrument for constant communication met community values and aspirations; it is to be noted however that full acknowledgement of the project’s benefits was only realised in the circles of people that knew enough about digital media and communication to understand its potential. Their role was crucial in spreading consensus among other members.


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4.2. PARTICIPATION, VISIBILITY AND SUSTAINABILITY: RELATIONS This part examines the relations among the three key factors tackled in this paper: participation, visibility and sustainability. 4.2.1. Participation and Visibility: Striking a Balance Community participation is paramount to ensure that an authentic voice is used to express the values of the Romani community. In addition, in order to reach a wide audience, community-produced content needs to compete on the World Wide Web with compelling and aesthetic content, produced by professionals. To stand a chance, local content needs to share similar compelling qualities. The relation between participation and visibility can be questioned as: Should participation over-rule quality content production, or the other way around? What is the right balance to be struck? The experience of Romani Voices indicates that the standard according to which these decisions are made should be subsumed as well to community goals. The Romani community involved in this project had a key concern with presenting an authentic image of their life, including both problems and positive aspects, coupled with the desire to reach a wide audience. Faithful portrayal of community concerns was as important as successfully reaching an audience. These two imperatives have been met by creating content truthful to real Romani life, and attempting to embed it in forms appealing for a target audience. The content production strategy was designed to capture people’s concerns and translate them into the digital content produced, as well as the manner of structuring it for online publishing. Researchers’ involvement has been higher during content editing and preparation for publishing. A professional graphic designer was hired, for instance, and briefed to produce a relevant yet simple and visually compelling website. 4.2.2. Participation as a Step towards Sustainability When designed thoughtfully, participation results in a sense of ownership of an initiative, which in turns heightens its potential for sustainability. In our experience, ownership has proven to include key components of sustainability, especially soft technology (in particular know-how) and social capital. With respect to know-how, we have observed that the development of a sense of project ownership corresponds with the development of members’ capacity to understand and manage parts of the process. People who had a key role in the project and learnt how to manage parts of it had a greater sense of ownership demonstrated through taking the initiative. With respect to social capital, we note that the sense of ownership develops at collective level when there is correspondence between a project’s goals and the values, norms and aspirations of the people involved - key components of social capital. The definition provided by Ramirez (2008), “ownership of the problem and its solution” points to one core aspect of a sustainable initiative: By making local people part of a project, involving them in the identification of a problem and the formulation of a solution, not only will the community derive a feeling of owning the project, but it will also have learnt the intricacies of acting towards goal fulfilment, which counts as a key ingredient for managing the same or similar projects in the future.


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5. Conclusions Let us remind the reader of the two research questions we have defined in section 2. The first question inquired whether we can identify methodological approaches for minority communication interventions that can ensure striking a balance between adequate reflection of community’s views and having an impact on the target audience. With respect to reflecting community views, we outline the importance of grounding the initial design of an intervention in local data, and the usefulness of employing ethnographic techniques. Secondly, we confirm the effectiveness of participatory approaches for gaining local approval, cultivating project ownership and building towards sustainability. The value of ethnographic and participatory methodologies resides in their capacity to properly link the approach and course of an initiative to local needs, goals, possibilities and constraints. Having an impact on the target audience requires, on the other hand preparing a qualitative communication product and distributing it through the right channels. The approach taken in the Romani Voices case study for meeting both goals was to blend a local focus (relying on ethnographic and participatory methods for content production and content organization) with interventionist team expertise (especially for establishing editing and publishing protocols). All throughout this process constant consultation rounds with community members were devised in each phase. The final product (www.romanivoices.com/podoleni) reflects this balance achieved through community direct participation (e.g. content produced and its taxonomy) and interventionist team expertise (e.g. graphic design, content editing, choice of the technological platform). The second question we addressed concerned the possibilities of establishing cause-effects relationships among elements of an intervention workflow and its achievements. To reduce the scope, we conducted an in-depth investigation of selected dimensions of technological initiatives for minority public communication: participation, visibility and sustainability. With respect to the relation between local participation and visibility, we noted that high or exclusive local participation and control over the communication intervention may affect the quality of content produced and its capacity to attract and maintain an audience. The concept of “proper visibility� (which considers the optimal delivery of the relevant community messages through the right technology platforms to the selected audience) can be employed as a means for identifying the right balance to be struck between ensuring local participation and building towards a qualitative communication product. A strong relation of reinforcement has been verified between participation and sustainability. This relation is particularly strong when participating members will have developed a sense of ownership of the initiative, and the capacity to control and run it collectively. Ultimately, the more people perceive the project as their own (e.g. acknowledge its benefits, and feel able to manage it) the more chances the latter has to continue beyond its supported lifetime. We can ask ourselves whether and to what extent the above findings, drawn from a specific case study, are generalizable. In our opinion several methodological and practical clues (see section 3 and discussion in section 4) can be applied to other projects with similar aims and in similar contexts. From the subjects discussed in the


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paper, we point to the importance of two issues for further research investigating the potential of ICTs for supporting minority communication: Participation vs. visibility. Local participation is a measure for ensuring that the authentic identity of a minority community is represented in the content produced. The outcome might not necessarily, however, coincide with a desirable reflection of the community to the outside world. On the contrary, if positive image-building is pursued, the community might not recognize itself and its values in this representation. The relation of these two aspects with local people’s education and training for media literacy, and the bearing of the semiotic codes pertaining to distinct socio-cultural systems, could be subjects worthy of further investigation. Project ownership and sustainability. Many minority-oriented projects collapse after the outside support is over. Ensuring project sustainability resides in fulfilling a complex set of requirements, depending on the local participants and conditions as much as on the team managing the intervention. We strongly believe that local embedding of an initiative is one of the most important factors, especially when it manages to cultivate a sense of project ownership in local participants. The Romani Voices case indicated that the development of a sense of project ownership can be related to other dimensions besides participation, such as know-how, role in the project and perceived self-efficacy; and that in turn these dimensions can be linked with two key aspects of sustainability – soft technology and social capital. Further research could explore more in-depth these issues and probe the relations among these concepts in different contexts.

References Bandura, A. (2000). Exercise of human agency through collective efficacy. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 9, 75-78. Barcea Local Council (2009). Plan urbanistic general si regulament de urbanism. Commune Barcea, Galati County. Vol. 1. General Memorandum. June. Bruce, B. C., & Bishop, A. P. (2008). New literacies and community inquiry. In J. Coiro, M. Knobel, C. Lankshear, and D. Leu, (Eds.), The handbook of research in new literacies (pp. 703-746). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum. Christen, K. (2008). Archival Challenges and Digital Solutions in Aboriginal Australia. The SAAA Archeological Record. Special Issue International Cooperative Research. 8(2), 21-24. Fraser, A. (2003). The Gypsies. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. Harris, R. et al. (2003). Sustainable telecentres? Two cases from India. S. Krishna & S. Madon (Eds.), The Digital Challenge: Information Technology in the Development Context (pp.124-135). Burlington: Ashgate Publishing Company. INS, Institutul Na ional de Statistic (2012) Comunicat de pres privind rezultatele provizorii ale Recens mântului Popula iei i Locuin elor – 2011. Retrieved February 27, 2012, from http://www.recensamantromania.ro/rezultate-2/ Kanji, N. & Greenwood, L. (2001) Participatory Approaches to Research and Development in IIED: Learning from Experience. London: IIED. Meyers, B. (1984). Minority Group: An Ideological Formulation. Social Problems, 32(1), Thematic Issue on Minorities and Social Movements (Oct. 1984), 1-15. Ramirez, R. (2008). A 'Meditation' on Meaningful Participation. The Journal of Community Informatics, 4(3).


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Romani Voices in Podoleni website. www.romanivoices.com/podoleni Simspon, L. (2005) Community Informatics and Sustainability: Why Social Capital Matters. The Journal of Community Informatics, 1(2), 102-119. Spencer, D. & Warfel, T. (2004). Card sorting: a definitive guide. Boxes and Arrows. Retrieved from http://www.boxesandarrows.com/view/card_sorting_a_definitive_guide Srinivasan, R. (2006). Where Information Society and Community Voice Intersect. The Information Society, 22 (5). Szente, V. L. (1996). Sudden rage at dawn: Violence against Roma in Romania. European Roma Rights Center, Budapest. Tacchi, J., (2008) Voice and poverty. Media Development, 2008/1. Tcherenkov, L. & Laederich, S. (2004). The Rroma. Volume 1: History, Language, and Groups. Basel: Schwabe Verlag Basel. Verkuyten, M. (2005). The social psychology of ethnic identity. New York: Psychology Press. Zamfir, E., & Zamfir, C. (1993). Tiganii intre ignorare si ingrijorare. Bucuresti: Alternative.


M. Strano, H. Hrachovec, F. Sudweeks and C. Ess (eds). Proceedings Cultural Attitudes Towards Technology and Communication 2012, Murdoch University, Australia, 67-83.

CHAHTA SIA “I AM CHOCTAW” Using Images as a Methodology for Cultural and Technological Discourse MICHELLE L. KAARST-BROWN Syracuse University Syracuse, New York, USA AND JAKE A. DOLEZAL Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma Durant, Oklahoma, USA

Abstract. Unlike positivist quantitative designs, many qualitative researchers tend to dive right into data collection without benefit of an exploratory study or other pilot study. The purpose of this paper is twofold: (1) to share an image-based methodology adapted from a community strategic planning process and applied to an exploratory study of one native American tribes reaction to cultural images and ICT’s, and (2) to share the many benefits of a pilot study in advance of a larger qualitative research study, including opportunities for discourse around ICT’s in relation to local culture.

1.

Introduction

The relationship between cultural artifacts and information and communication technologies (ICT’s) is a complex one, especially so with indigenous cultures and disadvantaged or underrepresented populations. Culture is a distinct way people classify and represent their experiences with symbols and act creatively (Kroeber & Kluckhohn, 1952). Researchers wishing to study the role of ICT’s and cultural heritage are challenged in many ways: diverse questions related to curation and collection decisions/practices (Christen, 2006, 2008; Lynch, 2002), exploration of media (Ginsburg, 1991; Ginsburg, Abu-Lughod, & Larkin, 2002; Srinivasan, 2006), interface design and acceptance issues (Brady, Dyson, & Asela, 2008; Keegan, 2007, 2008; Van House, Butler, Ogle, & Schiff, 1996), and designing methodologies that will yield meaningful answers specific to the culture they wish to understand and impact (KaarstBrown and Guzman, 2008). The majority of studies focus on textual and linguistic approaches. In addition, while some studies may include a “mixed-method design” (Creswell, 2002) using both positivist quantitative and interpretive qualitative approaches (Kaarst-Brown & Guzman, 2008), many qualitative studies tend to focus on remaining within a single paradigm, and rely at best on triangulated methods. Unlike


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positivist quantitative designs, many qualitative researchers tend to dive right into data collection after they receive IRB approval, without benefit of an exploratory study or other pilot study to guide thinking about cultural methodology or research questions. The purpose of this paper is twofold: (1) to share an image-based methodology adapted from a community strategic planning process and applied to an exploratory study of one Native American tribe’s reaction to cultural images and ICT’s, and (2) to share the many benefits for qualitative research of a pilot study in advance of a full study, including opportunities for new discourse around ICT’s and methodologies in relation to local culture. 1.1. RESEARCH WITHIN A NATIVE AMERICAN CONTEXT Historically, Native American tribes in the United States have had varied and largely exclusive cultures -- making it difficult for researchers to study and understand. When conducting research with Native people, consideration to their culture must be given. This includes having research reviewed by a tribe’s own Institutional Review Board(s), conducting culturally sensitive and appropriate methods, showing respect to cultural knowledge-holders, and demonstrating reciprocity by giving back to the community and not just “taking” (Nielsen & Gould, 2007). The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma -- the Native American tribe that is the focus of this study -- has the mission statement, “To enhance the lives of all members through opportunities designed to develop healthy, successful and productive lifestyles.” The Choctaw Nation is in the business of its own peoples’ well-being by offering programs and services designed to improve their quality of life. After overcoming the Federal termination policies of the 1950s, the Choctaw Nation has since flourished into a thriving multifaceted ethno-cultural, social, political, organizational, and commercial entity. In 1893, the Dawes Commission was authorized by the United States Congress to negotiate with the Five Civilized Tribes (Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek, Chickasaw, and Seminole) to dissolute the reservation system and accept land allotments in what is presently the state of Oklahoma. Today, their communities are shared and integrated with non-Natives, and they have made efforts to adapt without compromising their identity and heritage (Lambert, 2007). Scholars suggest that a personal identification with a particular culture improves a sense of well-being (Oetting & Beauvais, 1991; Weaver, 1998). As such, the leaders of the Choctaw Nation have emphasized cultural heritage and its vitalization. Evidence of efforts to foster Choctaw culture can be found at the organizational level in a multitude of special events and festivals, language classes, traditional dance expositions, organized sporting competitions, arts and craft demonstrations and workshops, just to name a few. However, as previously defined, Choctaw culture can be found in the expression and activity of its people—not wholly of the organization. 1.2. PURPOSE OF THE STUDY This pilot study was designed as a part of a larger effort to help create a digital collection of culture for the Choctaw Nation. The culture to be represented by this collection is living and active today. Many scholars in ICT design assert indigenous user participation is paramount when designing a system that represents their own


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culture (Boast, Bravo, & Srinivasan, 2007; Dourish & Button, 1998; Kujala & Kauppinen, 2004; Nichols, Witten, Keegan, Bainbridge, & Dewsnip, 2005; Srinivasan & Huang, 2005). With that spirit in mind, we sought to develop an initial understanding of the types and nature of images the Choctaw people believe to be culturally significant, and also those they do not. If we were to build a digital library of culture for the Choctaw, what images would the people feel best represented their culture and would embrace as a part of the collection? Technology acceptance with respect to diverse populations and culture has been widely studied (McCoy, Galletta, & King, 2007). However, we sought not to know if the Choctaw people would accept a particular ICT, but whether any ICT would be welcomed in their cultural expression. Would the Choctaw people react adversely if an ICT was present and intended to be actively involved in the recording or display of culture? Therefore, three methodological criteria for this exploratory study included: (1) an unobtrusive approach that took into account the reflexive position of the researchers, (2) an inclusive, natural setting that invited voluntary participation, and (3) a data collection instrument that allowed us to obtain a visual rather than a textual introduction to cultural artifacts valued by the Choctaw people. 1.3. VISUAL METHODOLOGIES Language-based research methods have historically dominated social science research and cultural research. However, several social science researchers, like Nicholas Mirzoeff (1999) and Gillian Rose (2005), assert that humans are “more visual and visualized than ever before” (Mirzoeff, 1999:1) through the multitude of visual media forms and technologies available today. The visual culture field is concerned with how information and meaning are portrayed in, sought, and consumed through visual technologies. An array of non-textual strategies of inquiry, or visual methodologies, is now available as an alternative way of conducting research. Rose (2005) extends a critical approach to visual culture through rigorous methods and positions their importance among traditional language-based methods by stating, “Images are important not simply because…they are pervasive, but because they have effects…in relation to the construction of social differentiation” (2005:69). Participatory visual methodologies, such as photography, filmmaking, visual art, and illustration, offer a more nuanced depiction of reality while simultaneously engaging and empowering research participants. Through the generation of images, and the reflective sharing of this visual content among community members, participants expand their capacity to express their voice (Wang & Burris, 1997). Researchers similarly have found images an insightful way to explore organizational belief systems (Dougherty & Kunda, 1990); community values and priorities (King, 2008), the effect of images on intergroup relations (viz., black, white, and Native) and their stereotypes (Alexander, Brewer, & Livingston, 2005); the content/story and other affective attributes of photos (Jörgensen, 1995), and the difference in historic imagery depicting Natives between white and Native artists (Vickers, 1998). In summary, our original intent in this exploratory pilot study was to identify: (1) what types of images are considered significant to the Choctaw culture; (2) whether or


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not there might be a particular aversion by members of the Tribe if the cultural image also portrays an ICT; (3) the similarities or differences in the image preferences of Choctaw of differing age, gender, region, or blood quantum (i.e., the fraction of their lineage that is Choctaw), and (4) we also hoped this project would contribute to the design of a larger study leading to the design and/or building of a digital collection of their culture. The next section of this paper presents details of the 2-phase methodology, as well as an overview of the results. We follow with a discussion of the methodology in relation to intended outcomes based on the exploratory research question. We then discuss the unintended outcomes of the methodology in relation to new opportunities for discourse about culture and ICT’s. We close with some implications for researchers interested in cultural attitudes and ICT’s.

2.

Exploratory Methodology: Chahta Sia - Cultural Images of the Choctaw

As outsiders to the tribe and this being the first attempt at conducting research with this population, we asked two separate tribal members with whom we had rapport about the effects our presence would have on participation. Both stated something to the effect that, “You will get more Choctaws to participate if you aren’t there.” As a result, the research design used in this study drew inspiration from the New York State community seminar of Brownfields Opportunity Areas Program led by Maren King (2008). Our exploratory study loosely followed her community-based approach to local strategic planning through the use of participant prepared visual images. Unlike her study, which encouraged researchers acting as facilitators in the community initiative, evidence suggested it would be better if we remain invisible during the research process. At the same time, we were similarly committed to encouraging community participation, uncovering local community values through images, and then analyzing and synthesizing results in relation to the exploratory research questions. Our pilot design included a multi-phase approach, first obtaining photographs of cultural images taken by a sample of Choctaw families, and then having a different group of participants judge the images “more or less Choctaw”. 2.1. PHASE 1: OBTAINING THE CULTURAL IMAGES In order to obtain photos, we sought out participants who were Choctaw by blood, as certified by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The cultural heritage department at the Choctaw Nation gave us a list of potential families who might be willing to help us with our project. We identified nine Choctaw multi-generational families who were local to the location of the second author. We contacted a member of each of those families, and all nine agreed to participate. We gave two or three digital cameras to each of the nine family representatives, and we never met or knew the identities of any of the other family members involved. In this way, we did not engage directly and were invisible to the majority of those who participated in taking pictures. This also meant, however, that we were dependent on the contact persons providing the cameras to their other family


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members. We asked that they and their family members take pictures of “items or activities that were the most or least Choctaw to them.” The same contact person returned the cameras to us after a couple of weeks. After retrieving the images off all the cameras, there were 98 photographs total. The number of photographs taken by participants varied greatly. For example, one family took 40 photographs, while another did not take any photos. We deliberately did not question the contact persons about the process of taking photos, how they involved their family, or even if they did so. Upon examination of the photographs, we took care to either discard or disguise any information in the photographs that could identify the family or an individual person. For example, we used computer software to crop a photo that showed a particularly elaborate and potentially identifying tattoo. Also to protect their identities, the pictures were randomly ordered and serially numbered, information regarding the family that took each photo was not made known, and data was deleted off every camera used once the pictures were retrieved and coded. In preparation for the second phase of the project, we grouped photos by the type of cultural activity or artifact they portrayed: buildings, clothing/jewelry, cooking/food, historic, original homesteads, landscape, language, religion, stickball/games, and technology. Some photos were coded as more than one category, for example, a one hundred year old building was both “historic” and “building”. We selected a few of the best photographs from each group based on image quality and how clearly it portrayed the cultural activity or artifact. The selection process yielded a total of 25 photographs for the second phase of the study. 2.2. AN ABSENCE OF ICT’S – ERGO “THE RINGERS” Our families provided us with a wonderful diversity of photos; however, not a single photo included any visible modern information or communication technology (ICT). Given our research question, this in itself was informative. However, when we engaged a larger sample of the community in phase two of this exploratory pilot study, we needed to include some photos that did include ICT’s. At this point, we deliberately modified four of the 25 photos in subtle ways or created a surrogate cultural photo, introducing four “ringers”. To concoct the ringers, the original photographs were manipulated by graphics editing software and combined with an easily recognizable ICT artifact in such a way that the ICT was shown in an active role of the cultural expression itself. The ringers were as follows: 1) a digital camera capturing an image of a youth in traditional dress with crossed stickball sticks, 2) a screenshot of a fictitious culinary website displaying the image and recipe of plavska vlwvska - traditional fry bread being cooked in a caldron over an open fire, 3) a woman texting an image of her beaded barrette and making comments about it on a smart phone, and 4) a screenshot of a fictitious Facebook webpage featuring an image and wall posts of Choctaw stickball. (See Appendix A – Figure 2.) The ringers were reinserted into the set of unaltered images and affixed to a large whiteboard in a grid layout (see Appendix B – Figure 3.)


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2.3. PHASE 2: USING THE IMAGES FOR CULTURAL INSIGHTS The next phase of the research required a preliminary sample of individuals from the larger Choctaw community who would comment on the photos and provide us with basic information through a simple set of questions. Again, our goal was that the researchers were invisible to the process, participation was not only voluntary but also self-selected rather than overtly solicited by an outsider, and participants were drawn from a broader representative of the Choctaw community that extended beyond the main headquarters or the location of the researchers. 2.3.1. Site Selection and Participant Recruitment To maximize the opportunity for a varied sample, the site selected for the survey was the Choctaw Nation’s annual Labor Day festival, which is held during the first weekend in September. The festival draws nearly 100,000 visitors from all over North America to the tribe’s spiritual capitol in Tvshka Homma (Tuskahoma), Oklahoma. At the festival grounds is a cultural venue where Choctaw artisans sell their wares and crafts to festival patrons. The board was set up at the front entrance to this building at 8:00 AM on the first morning of the festival. To encourage voluntary participation, participants and non-participants could enter a drawing to win one of six digital cameras. The researchers were not present during data collection, so as not to influence the results by appearing to observe. We did, however, check the board and take photos of the results at the end of each day to monitor progress over the two days. This also allowed us to verify final results and minimized the risk of deliberate or inadvertent tampering. 2.3.2. The Simple Survey Instrument – 4 Colored Dots and 6 Questions As noted earlier, the 25 images (including the four ringers) were developed into five by seven inch photographs and affixed to a large whiteboard in a grid layout. Signage and instructions were also placed around the photographs to draw participation and give guidance on how to complete the card questions, which made up our “survey”. The participants were directed to take a card that had four colored stickers affixed to the corner - three green dots numbered “1”, “2”, and “3” and one red dot with an “X” printed on it. The instructions mounted on the board asked the participants to stick the green dots on the three photographs they felt were “the most Choctaw to them”. They were also asked to stick the red dot on the image they thought was “the least Choctaw”. The card also had five basic questions on it: age, gender, city and state of residence, and Choctaw blood quantum. We also included one open-ended question asking them why they picked the photos they did, with room to indicate the photo number and space of write a short comment on each photo selected for their dots (see Appendix C – Figure 4.) Pens, a clipboard, and drop box for their cards were provided. The board was mounted on a wooden stand and set at an appropriate height accessible for most adults. The board was pre-tested by a few Choctaws prior to being deployed. The researchers were encouraged that the pre-test participants were able to understand what they were being asked to do and complete the cards without assistance. They also offered constructive feedback on the signage and instructions that likely improved the eventual outcomes. Their unsolicited verbal feedback also indicated the survey was “fun” and


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“appropriate”. One woman said she “wanted more stickers,” because she saw more than three photos she wanted to vote for; however, for purposes of our exploratory study we did not change this. This early feedback suggested we had met our goals for a process that was not seen as invasive or disrespectful. “Fun” and “appropriate” suggested that our preliminary design was a good one as far as it went. During the actual “dot sticking phase of the study” as we came to refer to phase 2, we occasionally and inconspicuously hung out by the board to listen and watch some of the participants and how they interacted with the photo survey. We observed that participants took their time, studied the photographs, and discussed how photos related to specific memories or cultural expressions of their own, such as, “That old homestead reminds me of my grandmother’s house.” Upon completion of his selections, we overheard one participant stating to the others in his group, “That was cool.” 2.4. RESULTS: CULTURAL IMAGES AND ICT’S By Sunday morning, the board had attracted 99 participants. Interestingly, only 52 people entered the drawing a camera, with the rest of the participants drawn into the research by inherent interest. We realize that 99 participants from many thousands who likely entered the arts and crafts center is a very small overall participation rate. It was, however, qualitatively very informative on many counts. 2.4.1. Overview of Findings There were 99 participants who stuck a total of 356 dots on the photographs. Our participant group was 62% female with a median age of 46 years. Also, the median for Choctaw lineage of our participants was one-quarter Choctaw by blood, but the top quartile of participants were between half and full-blood Choctaw. By counting "most Choctaw" votes, we determined the top five most popular images were: (1) a family home on an original allotment, (2) stickball sticks and the feet of players, (3) a religious hymnal in the Choctaw language, (4) fry bread cooking in a cast iron kettle, and (5) a digital camera taking a photo of a girl holding stickball sticks, which happened to be one of our "ringers". Our ringers also received votes. In Figure 1 below, we have a histogram of "most Choctaw" and "not Choctaw" votes for our four ringers. Notice the only image that was widely considered "not Choctaw" was the beadwork image depicted on a smart phone and shown in Appendix A – Figure 2. The researchers also created a Classification and Regression Tree (CART) using a statistical software application to determine if we could discern differences in the individuals who stuck a dot on a ringer and those who did not. We found that Choctaws younger than 42.5 years were more likely to vote for a ringer than those who were older. Of those younger than 42.5, Choctaws from the less impoverished and more economically developed western portion of the Choctaw Nation were more likely to pick a ringer than their eastern cousins. In summary, while we do not consider the findings definitive on the issue of whether and how Choctaw cultural images can be presented using ICT’s, we feel this study was successful in beginning the exploration. These findings also highlighted the benefits of the annual meeting venue, which offered the greatest diversity of potential


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participants. We know from this pilot study that there are Choctaw who are part of a broader digital community, as evidenced by the email addresses provided by some participants on their cards. This encourages further exploration of a digital collection of Choctaw culture.

Figure 1. Histogram of Results for Technologically Enhanced Photos (Ringers) 2.4.2. The Benefits of the Methodology (Expected) We learned several things from our exploratory two-phase design inspired by King’s (2008) community work. We learned that we will likely need to doctor some of the images to include ICT’s rather than relying only on those produced by the Choctaw participants, or else be specific and request they include some technologies used by their families. We also learned that our efforts to be invisible and unobtrusive were paradoxically important to building rapport and being accepted in the community. We were successful in engaging a community that is hard to reach in a community setting. While our results were small in terms of sample size, the intent of the exploratory study was to experiment with the design’s effectiveness in developing a qualitative and interpretive understanding of the role of visual images, rather than to obtain a largescale set of results. We wanted to know if, and how, people would respond to the design and so gain initial answers to our question. In these ways, our test of the methodology was successful. We also benefited from several unanticipated lessons.

3.

Informal Opportunities for Discourse – Priceless Insights

As noted above, the visual methodology delivered everything for which we had hoped. The benefits of the original design can be summed up as: (1) the value of balancing unobtrusive study with simple feedback, (2) the value of visual images in engaging the community related to their cultural expressions and values, and (3) the value of testing the research process. Yet, we perceive the greatest value from conducting this nontraditional pilot study of a qualitative design was how it enabled opportunities for discourse with members of the Choctaw community about the actual methods and goals of the study. Researchers traditionally engage participants in discussions about the


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research questions, not about the research design itself. Our experiences with these unexpected opportunities for cultural discourse around a visual methodology have value for researchers who seek to use visually based methods in both indigenous and other communities, as well as for those who wish to follow other qualitative research designs. These include: (1) opening up a research agenda, (2) gaining insights for research design and methods, and (3) building relationships. Informal opportunities for discourse came at three points in the study: (1) during preparation and approval stages (access); (2) during the execution of each phase of the study; and (3) after the study was officially completed. We present this as anecdotal evidence, drawing from field notes and researcher memos to support the value of integrating this rarely explored role of “pilot studies” as a formal part of qualitative research designs. 3.1. OPPORTUNITIES FOR CULTURAL DISCOURSE DURING PREPARATION AND APPROVAL STAGES Engaging with Native American communities as outside, non-native researchers is often challenging because of a long history of abuse and disrespect. As one of the researchers involved in this study was employed by the Choctaw organization, we had the potential of basic access to certain organizational members, but not necessarily broader access or acceptance in the Choctaw community. The process for approval of even the exploratory pilot study was long, rigorous, and involved many different departments and levels of the managing tribal organization. This also meant that we were exposed to many additional people who were not directly part of the research study. At the time, this all seemed peripheral, and like most researchers, we viewed this as a necessary hurdle on the way to our intended goal, rather than as part of the study itself. On reflection, we found several examples of how activities associated with the process of preparing for the research provided valuable opportunities for discourse. As one example, while the second author was in the cultural heritage department gathering a list of potential participants for the photo-taking stage, a full-blood Choctaw language teacher came into the group and participated in the conversation. He gave us advice about interviewing other Choctaws, and he said to “never try and fill in the gaps of a conversation”. He said, “If you tell something to an elder, speak deliberately and slowly, and when you're finished, be completely silent. If the elder doesn't respond right away, that means he or she is thinking, and you should be silent and even slowly nod to acknowledge and respect his or her time of contemplation. Then the Choctaw will respond when he or she is ready. To try and talk while they're thinking would be as rude as interrupting them while they were talking, and possibly more so”. Our informal expert said if we did not follow this approach, we “would get nothing from them”. He also questioned the notion of “digital” with respect to his culture. He said, “To the Choctaw, what is ‘digital’? We have no word for that. Our elders won’t want to talk about digital things, because to them that’s meaningless.” In regards to the picture taking, he cautioned us, “Choctaws are pranksters by nature. Don’t be surprised if you get back pictures of soda cans or something like that.” The caution about conversational protocols and the Choctaw’s sense of humor were invaluable as we worked with the organization and with our contact persons


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taking photos. It also increased our appreciation for the rigor and care shown by the phase two participants in later picture selection, as this supported that they took the methodology seriously and valued that their opinions were being solicited in a visual way that resonated with their values. Equally important was the realization that there is no word for “digital” in the Choctaw language. This in itself highlighted the potential for inherent tension between cultural heritage and preservation or presentation in a digital format. 3.2. OPPORTUNITIES FOR CULTURAL DISCOURSE DURING THE STUDY Once both the University and Choctaw Nation Institutional Review Boards approved the study, we arranged a time to meet with a member from three of the families. As we sat down with each of them to explain our picture-taking request, they were noticeably quiet and seemingly unsure about what we were doing. However, once they started to feel more comfortable and understood what the cameras were for and what they were to do with them, they starting reflecting about their culture. These reflections were not recorded as an official part of the data related to the research question, but as part of documenting the methods. We found that this opportunity for discourse illuminated meaning that our initial methods could not: (1) that some Choctaw cultural knowledge is highly personal or private and cannot be captured or illustrated in images, (2) that there may be conflict between traditional, religious and modern cultural images or values among the Choctaw, and (3) that paradoxically, the typically matriarchal Choctaw culture might not be captured at the individual level, but in how they share meaning among the familial unit and participate in groups. When is a picture not worth a thousand words? In relation to the first insight, one participant told us of her family gatherings. She said they would gather at their family’s cabins in a remote place for three or four days. She reminisced, “It’s July in Oklahoma, so of course it’s hot and sticky. We would sit under a huge old tree in the evenings and listen to my grandmother tell stories in Choctaw, because she knew very little English.” Her grandmother has now passed away. There are photos of the cabin, but we asked her if she had a little video camera, if she would have wanted to record the storytelling. With a tear in her eye, she replied “Yes.” She said they also played ball, and their family was big enough to play volleyball and softball together. She talked about how the older men would “take leave of their age and join in as if they were twenty years old again.” Cultural expression is obviously more than artifacts and images, but it may also be highly personal. Images may fail to capture much of the cultural knowledge and memories associated with them. The process of deciding which images, and the opportunity to reflect on them, however, offer methods for rich cultural discourse and engagement. Decisions about what represent an indigenous people’s culture and values may present challenges related to conflict between tradition, religion, and modern cultural images. This second insight came from informal discussion another participant who shared a story of his regular family gatherings. The entire event centers on his grandmother. “Everybody is checking on grandma and making sure her needs are met,” he said. He explained that at the last gathering, his grandmother led the women in


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making some traditional beadwork. He said those gatherings are what Choctaw culture means to him. He commented that his grandmother also knew traditional Choctaw medicine, but said most people will not talk about it. He said he hopes his “grandmother’s medicine doesn’t get forgotten”. He also mentioned the ghost stories his grandmother tells, but stated that no one outside the family knows them because those beliefs are not as widely accepted now, and often makes people uncomfortable. Introducing less comfortable discussions through images can be successful in legitimizing issues not usually talked about (see also “Photovoice” – Wang and Burris, 2007). Each of these stories supports our third insight that the cultural identity of the Choctaw people may not be captured in a study solely of individual preferences related to images, but in understanding of how cultural meaning is collectively shared and communicated through images and stories associated with them. In organizational studies, we rarely investigate an entire department. In this type of cultural setting, however, it may be necessary to interview or collectively engage the entire family unit to capture cultural experiences and how they interpret and share these experiences. This is also highlighted in a brief story from one of the participants in the photo taking who commented that his idea of Choctaw culture is “in the past”. His family still owns the original allotment they received in 1837 after the Trail of Tears. He said the original home place burned, but the family house that was built around 1890 is still there. He said one reason it is still standing is that the tin roof on the building is original. They have repaired the house with some new materials for structural integrity, but try to restore and reuse original materials as much as possible. He said the land is also his family’s burial grounds. “All of my ancestors since the Trail of Tears are buried there”. He said although no one lives there today, there are 12 grandsons in the family, and each one is assigned a month of the year when they go, mow the grass, weed the cemetery, and keep the place up. He commented, “It’s rare, unfortunately, that my family gathers there. I wish they did more often.” The family homestead was a cultural image that appeared frequently in the photos. Its cultural meaning to this family is shared across multiple generations and dozens of family members. Visual methods may provide a common focal point for studying the multi-generational transfer of culture and how ICT’s may support this (or potentially hinder it). 3.3. OPPORTUNITIES FOR CULTURAL DISCOURSE AFTER THE STUDY There were several benefits for further discourse and engagement with participants after the study ended. For example, after picking up the camera from one photo-taking participant, he commented, “Anytime you need me to help, just give me a shout! I like things like this.” While this was only a signal of willingness, this generosity would likely not have been offered to outside researchers had we not been willing to spend the time conducting the exploratory pilot study. The success of the pilot study and the relationships developed also added credibility with various senior tribal managers, making the likelihood of approval for future studies higher. We clearly tapped into an important issue for the Choctaw people and the visual methodology was one that resonated with at least a few of them. One photo-taking


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participant continued to send us photographs even after the data collection was complete. Of the 52 participants who entered the drawing, 21 of them checked a box on the card that they were willing to be contacted about this study or about their impressions of Choctaw culture. They left telephone numbers and/or email addresses. This provides us with a sample of individuals to contact for more detailed interviews and future studies. Months after the project was completed, we received a phone call from one of our photo-taking participants. He said his elderly mother had asked him to call us and find out which pictures “won the photo contest?” She said she fully expected to see the results in the Tribal newspaper, something that we had not considered. There is little doubt in our mind that our small, exploratory pilot study using a visual methodology has provided us with new insights into our initial question, our methods, and may provide a potential network of leads and participants for future studies. It has also created a focus of conversation and opportunities for future discourse that we might not have been privy to had we attempted a larger scale study without this pilot, and provided insights into ways in which future studies will need to be modified.

4.

Conclusions

Nielson and Gould (2007) remind us of the importance of giving back to the native community even as we conduct our research. There is a saying that “people do not care what you know; they want to know that you care.” This is especially important for field research with native communities. Unlike positivist quantitative designs, many qualitative researchers tend to dive right into data collection without benefit of an exploratory study or other pilot study. With this paper, we hope to share with the research community lessons from: (1) an image-based methodology adapted from a community strategic planning process and applied to an exploratory study of one Native American tribe’s reaction to cultural images and ICT’s, and (2) the many benefits of this pilot study in advance of a larger qualitative research design, including opportunities for discourse around ICT’s in relation to local culture and research methods. While it is common for interview guides (sets of structured or semi-structured questions) to be pretested, the reality is that many researchers simply assume that their research design is a good one, because it models approved case study, ethnography, or another type of methodology, and because it was passed by the IRB of their respective institutions. Some young researchers fear that they will be wasting time, data or a potential participant by doing a pilot study when they do not see how the data could be included in the full study. As researchers, we also often think that because we use accepted protocol for data collection or analysis that we will get the right answers, perhaps missing the idea that we may be asking the wrong questions. Too often, we leave reflections on the limitations of our research methods to the end of our papers or dissertations, encouraging others with suggestions for future designs or studies. While not all qualitative “designs” may seem suitable for a pilot study, most are certainly amenable


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to pretesting of all the instruments or techniques for data collection and to a trial analysis of the qualitative data. This allows us to see if we are, in fact, getting data that will address the research questions or if our design and methods need to be revisited. As an example, while we had planned to include interviews and formal discourse in the larger study to follow, and were sensitive to potential generational differences, we under-valued the shared cultural expressions of the often matriarchal, extended Choctaw family unit. Instead of focusing on individually based research, we now realize that our design may need to incorporate family groups. In terms of the visual methods, we also see new opportunities to test purely visual presentations and those with added narration (consistent with oral tradition). More significantly, however, pilot studies are information opportunities for discourse about the research topic and methodology. Our pre-testing of the “dotsticking” and card questions resulted in our adding “blood quotient”. For all our reading, experience with the Choctaw, and prior research, we had not considered how this might influence cultural interpretation (such as perceived value or meaning of an artifact or image). Showing respect for the knowledge of participants should not be new to researchers, however, we tend to try to remain in control of the study. In previous studies covering a wide range of research topics, we have found one of the best closing questions to be, “Is there any question that you think we should have asked you that we have not?” While this might surprise the interviewee, this question has often generated important data about both the research topic and the research design or instruments. In terms of the visual methodology, the use of images that were provided by members of the tribal community were more effective in opening up dialogue about Choctaw culture and ICT’s than any interview guide or researcher provided images would have been. The process of creating a visual venue for discussion about “most Choctaw” versus “least Choctaw” also provided those who participated with a focus for their reflections. This is consistent with other findings on the role of visual methods (King, 2008; Wang and Burris, 1997). In summary, the benefits of the exploratory study using a visual methodology included: (1) opening up a research agenda to new ideas or perspectives, (2) new insights for research design, as well as future studies, (3) the building of relationships including opening doors to the site, (participant volunteers, building rapport, and the “emic perspective”). The other lessons shared in this paper show the value for qualitative and mixed-method researchers of the rarely explored role of “pilot studies” as a formal part of qualitative research designs. Acknowledgements Our sincere thanks to the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma for their approval of this exploratory study, and to the participants in all stages of the study who shared their stories and cultural expressions with us. We would also like to thank the Honorable Gregory E. Pyle, Chief of the Choctaw Nation, for his support of this project and for his vision of healthy, productive, and selfsufficient lifestyles for the Choctaw people. We feel deeply honored and privileged to be allowed to engage with your community and members.


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References Alexander, M. G., Brewer, M. B., & Livingston, R. W. (2005). Putting stereotype content in context: Image theory and interethnic stereotypes. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 31(6), 781-794. Boast, R., Bravo, M., & Srinivasan, R. (2007). Return to Babel: Emergent diversity, digital resources, and local knowledge. The Information Society, 23(5), 395–403. Brady, F., Dyson, L. E., & Asela, T. (2008). Indigenous adoption of mobile phones and oral culture. In F. Sudweeks, H. Hrachovec, & C. Ess (Eds.), Proceedings of the Cultural Attitudes Towards Communication and Technology (pp. 384-398). Nimes, France. Christen, K. (2006). Ara Irititja: Protecting the past, accessing the future—Indigenous memories in a digital age. Museum Anthropology, 29(1), 56–60. Christen, K. (2008). Archival challenges and digital solutions in Aboriginal Australia. SAA Archaeological Record, 8(2), 21–24. Creswell, J. W. (2002). Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches (2nd ed.). Sage Publications, Inc. Dougherty, D., & Kunda, G. (1990). Photograph analysis: A method to capture organizational belief systems. In P. Gagliardi (Ed.), Symbols and Artifacts: Views of the Corporate Landscape (1st ed.). Hawthorne, New York: Aldine de Gruyter. Dourish, P., & Button, G. (1998). On “Technomethodology”: foundational relationships between ethnomethodology and system design. Human-Computer Interaction, 13, 395–432. Ginsburg, F. (1991). Indigenous media: Faustian contract or global village? Cultural Anthropology, 6(1), 92–112. Ginsburg, F., Abu-Lughod, L., & Larkin, B. (2002). Media worlds: Anthropology on new terrain. Berkeley: University of California Press. Jörgensen, C. (1995). Image attributes: An investigation. Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY. Retrieved from http://surface.syr.edu/it_etd/39 Kaarst-Brown, M. L., & Guzman, I. R. (2008). Decisions, decisions: Ethnography or mixedmethod approaches to study cultural issues in IS research? In F. Sudweeks, H. Hrachovec, & C. Ess (Eds.), Proceedings of the Cultural Attitudes Towards Communication and Technology. Nimes, France. Keegan, T. T. (2007). Indigenous language usage in a digital library: He hautoa kia ora tonu ai. (Doctoral dissertation). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Keegan, T. T. (2008). Indigenous languages shaping multilingual interfaces. In F. Sudweeks, H. Hrachovec, & C. Ess (Eds.), Proceedings of the Cultural Attitudes Towards Communication and Technology (pp. 374-383). Nimes, France. King, M. (2008). New York State Community Seminar Series: Vision for Brownfields Opportunity Areas Program. State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Retrieved from http://nyswaterfronts.com/downloads/BOA/ seminarseries/index.html Kroeber, A. L., & Kluckhohn, C. (1952). Culture: a critical review of concepts and definitions. Papers. Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology, Harvard University, 47(1). Kujala, S., & Kauppinen, M. (2004). Identifying and selecting users for user-centered design. Proceedings of the third Nordic conference on Human-computer interaction (pp. 297–303). Presented at the NorciCHI ’04, Tampere, Finland. Lambert, V. (2007). Political protest, conflict, and tribal nationalism: The Oklahoma Choctaws and the termination crisis of 1959–1970. The American Indian Quarterly, 31(2), 283-309. Lynch, C. (2002). Digital collections, digital libraries and the digitization of cultural heritage information. First Monday, 7(5-6).


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McCoy, S., Galletta, D. F., & King, W. R. (2007). Applying TAM across cultures: the need for caution. European Journal of Information Systems, 16(1), 81-90. Mirzoeff, N. (1999). An Introduction to Visual Culture. London: Routledge. Nichols, D. M., Witten, I. H., Keegan, T. T., Bainbridge, D., & Dewsnip, M. (2005). Digital libraries and minority languages. New Review of Hypermedia and Multimedia, 11(2), 139155. Nielsen, M. O., & Gould, L. A. (2007). Non-Native scholars doing research in Native American communities: A matter of respect. The Social Science Journal, 44(3), 420–433. Oetting, E. R., & Beauvais, F. (1991). Orthogonal cultural identification theory: The cultural identification of minority adolescents. Substance Use & Misuse, 25, 655–685. Rose, G. (2005). Visual methodologies. In G. Griffin (Ed.), Research methods for English studies (pp. 67-89). Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Srinivasan, R. (2006). Indigenous, ethnic and cultural articulations of new media. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 9(4), 497-518. Srinivasan, R., & Huang, J. (2005). Fluid ontologies for digital museums. International Journal on Digital Libraries, 5(3), 193–204. Van House, N. A., Butler, M. H., Ogle, V., & Schiff, L. (1996). User-centered iterative design for digital libraries: The Cypress experience. D-lib Magazine. Vickers, S. B. (1998). Native American identities: from stereotype to archetype in art and literature. Wang, C. W., & Burris, M. A. (1997). Photovoice: Concept, methodology, and use for participatory needs assessment. Health Education & Behavior, 24(3), 369-387. Weaver, H. N. (1998). Indigenous people in a multicultural society: Unique issues for human services. Social Work, 43(3).


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Appendices APPENDIX A

Figure 2. The four photographs that were altered to be the technology “ringers”


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APPENDIX B

Figure 3. The images on the whiteboard with participants’ dots affixed APPENDIX C

Figure 4. A sample participant’s survey card

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A PYRAMID OF CULTURAL MARKERS FOR GUIDING CULTURALCENTERED LOCALIZED WEBSITE DESIGN ABDALGHANI MUSHTAHA AND OLGA DE TROYER Department of Computer Science, Research Group WISE.Pleinlaan 2 Vrije Universiteit Brussel, 1050 Brussel, Belgium {abdalghani.mushtaha, Olga.DeTroyer}@vub.ac.be

Abstract. During the last five years, we have done several studies aiming at understanding the link between website design and the user’s culture. From these studies we have identified a number of cultural markers that affect website usability, understanding and acceptance. Based on these results, this paper offers five groups of cultural markers to be used as guidelines for designing user cultural-centered localized websites. The five groups are organized as levels in a pyramid and in this way it allows for different degrees of localization. Also internationalization can be achieved using this cultural markers pyramid.

1. Introduction Most of the HCI usability researchers, to some extent, agree on the fact that “taking the user’s cultural preferences into account during the website design process is, to some extent, essential for enhancing website usability” (Aykin et al. 2007; Gillham 2004; Shi 2007; Daniel et al. 2011). Consequently, there have been many attempts, based on an anthropologist’s cultural dimensions, to offer guidance for designing a so-called localized website, i.e. a website taking into consideration the culture of the target audience. Marcus and Gould (Marcus & Gould 2000), for example, used Hofstede’s cultural dimensions (Hofstede 2001) as a basis for understanding global web design, afterwards offering website design guidance for each cultural dimension based on a theoretical analysis of selected websites. However, since the purpose of anthropology models is different, not all cultural models are suitable for using them in website design (Huang & Deng 2008). In our earlier research (Mushtaha & Troyer 2009), we concluded that part of the culture of Web users changes and shifts with the understanding of the Web, and that the Web is an environment with its own culture. Moreover, people, while using the Web, are in fact sharing some special culture, which comes from using the Web, and this culture is different from the user’s social culture. As a result, we decided to process our research results, and go a step further by providing five different groups of cultural markers. The five groups are organized as a pyramid targeting five different levels of cultural-centered localization. The lowest level provides a minimal of cultural adaptation, while the highest level ensures a maximal adaptation towards the target


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culture. For each level of localization, a group of cultural markers for a set of website design elements is provided, as well as a specific number of anthropological cultural dimensions that should be considered for that specific localization level. As such, this pyramid provides guidelines for designing cultural-centered localized websites. This paper is structured as follows. First, section 2 gives the background of our previous research that we used to build upon in this paper. Then, a short description of cultural shaping and digital culture is provided in section 3. Section 4 contains the main contribution of this paper: the cultural markers pyramid and how to use it in website localization as well as in globalization. Finally, we provide conclusions.

2. Background The cultural markers pyramid presented in this paper is based on several research studies on the relation between culture and website design that we have performed in the past. The following briefly restate those prior research studies: (1) Cultural markers in local interfaces (De Troyer et al. 2006): Two different pilot studies were organized in order to determine the extent to which the homepage design of local web sites reflected Hofstede’s score assigned to their country for different cultural dimensions. (2) Cross-cultural understanding (Mushtaha & De Troyer 2007): A comparative study between two groups of users, from two different cultural backgrounds was conducted. The purpose of this study was to explore and evaluate the influence of the user’s cultural background on understanding website content and interface. Moreover, 16 anthropologists and systems designers cultural dimensions used in website localization were investigated, aiming to know the most important cultural markers influencing user’s understanding. (3) Web localization preferences (Mushtaha & De Troyer 2009): Research has been conducted where we re-examined, validated and compared local sites from the same country aiming to understand the extent to which websites from the same country provide similar cultural markers and share the same special identity. Moreover, an empirical evaluation study was conducted to compare the cultural markers in current and earlier versions of the same website. (4) Cross-culture and website design - cultural evolution (Mushtaha & De Troyer 2009): This research was built upon the existing body of research in website design and anthropologists’ cultural dimensions. The research was performed in two phases: a first study was carried out to re-evaluate some pre-researched websites, and the second study was performed to evaluate and rank anthropologist’s cultural dimensions. The findings of both research studies were evaluated and compared against earlier research results in order to provide insight into the evolution of the use of cultural markers.

3. Web User’s Cultural Shaping People who are using the Web regularly are more likely to be faced with different types of websites coming from various countries, which may result in new understandings and


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new experiences. The Web is a dynamic interacting environment and people who are using the Web are sharing that environment and are constantly in contact (directly or indirectly) with each other. Therefore, based on the majority of definitions used for culture “which are based on the fact that culture is learned from and shared by people who communicate with each other” (Barber & Badre 1998; Marcus & Ackerman 2002; Gillham 2004), we could inferthat the Web and other digital communication technology has an impact on culture, as well as that it creates a culture of its own. Currently, people can do most of their daily activities using new forms of technology. For example, students can study, write, read news, get information and interact in ways that are very different from previous generations. And for that, we could say that everyone who uses the Web has a “digital” cultural identity in addition to his or her own “social” cultural identity (Reed-Swale 2009; Mushtaha &De Troyer 2009). This means that Web users actual have two kinds of cultures, a digital culture and a social culture. The “digital culture” is powered by the use of the Web and digital technology, while the “social culture” is in relation to the customs, traditions, morals, and values that affects everyone from their physical environment, such as family, friends, religion, etc. (Huang & Deng 2008). 3.1. DIGITAL CULTURAL MARKERS Digital cultural markers are website elements such as colors, color combinations, website layout, data organizing, trust signs, use of metaphor, navigation style, language cues or images; which are preferred, shared, well understood and accepted by Web users for a certain website domain and country. In order to design a localized website, it is necessary to consider two kinds of cultural markers: social and digital ones, matching both the target context of the website. The social cultural markers for the target context are markers that are related to the target country or target audience, while the digital cultural markers are digital cultural markers related to the target website domain and to the Web for a certain country. For example, suppose that two websites need to be designed, both for the Belgium market, but one should be an e-commerce website and the other a news website. The digital cultural markers appropriate for e-commerce websites are different, to some extent, from the digital cultural markers for news websites, even for the same target context (Belgium). This type of digital cultural markers for website design is important and should be investigated separately. We distinguish between: (1) Web Digital Markers (WDM): these types of markers are shared between all Web users for all domains, e.g., the home page icon. (2) Domain Digital Markers (DDM): each particular domain has specific digital cultural markers and Web users around the world understand these domain digital markers in the same way. Therefore, these digital cultural markers are shared between all Web users who use the same domain. For example, the shopping basket in ecommerce websites is known by all users of e-commerce sites. (3) Country Digital Markers (CDM): this type of digital cultural markers is shared between Web users from one country or society for all website domains. For example, the Franco Arabic is used between Arab Web users.


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To illustrate these different types of cultural markers, consider two news website that need to be designed, one targeting the Belgians people and another for the Germans. For the digital cultural markers four sets needs to be defined: (1) The Web Digital Markers (WDM) are shared between all of the Web users, so they can be used for Belgian as well as for the Germansite. (2) The Domain Digital Markers (DDM) are shared between all news website users, so these are cultural markers that could be used for both the Belgian and for the German news site. (3) The Country Digital Markers (CDM) for the Belgium are shared between all Belgians Web users, so these are markers that could only be used for the Belgian news site. (4) The Country Digital Markers (CDM) for the Germany are shared between all the Germans Web users, so these are markers that could only be used for the German news site. For the social cultural markers, two sets of social cultural markers should be considered, one for the German news website which is specific for the Germans and the one set for the Belgian people. 3.2. SEMANTIC MEANING OF WEB ELEMENTS We also investigated by means of some of our studies (see Mushtaha & DeTroyer 2007) how Web users try to understand the meaning of some unknown elements in a website (e.g., a picture, an icon, etc.). We found that (as shown in Figure 1) Web users use a specific way for understanding the meaning of an element, in which the different types of culture identified (see previous section) play an important role. The user follows a number of steps until he understands the element: (1) Step 1: the Web user tries to link the element to the Country Digital Markers he knows, and attempt to understand the element in this way. (2) Step 2: the Web user tries to understand the unknown element in the light of his or her understanding of other websites belonging to the same domain. Therefore, the Web user will use the Domain Digital Markers to understand the unknown element. (3) Step 3: the Web user attempts to use his/her general Web knowledge to link the element to any website marker previously seen on websites.Therefore, the Web user will use the Web Digital Markers to understand the unknown element. (4) Step 4: This is the final step where the Web user falls back to its own “social” cultural background. If he still does not understand the element then the meaning remains unknown.

Country digital culture expectation

Domain cultural expectations

Web cultural expectations

Figure 1. User’s understanding of Web elements - Steps

User cultural background expectations "Social culture"


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4. A Pyram mid of Guideliines forCultu ural-Centereed Localized Website Design In previous work w (Mushtahha & De Troyeer 2009), it is noted that “iddentifying abso olute and clear-cutt cultural markkers or using a dedicated an nthropologist cultural c model for website desig gn is not posssible”. In the light l of this quuote, this secttion proposes five groups of culltural markers.. These groupss can be used for achieving different levels of localization. Each group of cultural markers m contrributes to a specific levell of ( adapttation). The fi five levels are: (1) e-culturee level, (2) staable localization (cultural cultural levell, (3) broad cultural level, (44) variable culttural level, andd (5) vista culttural level. The levvel in which a marker is placced represents its importancee for localizatio on – the lower thee level, the moore important tto consider thee marker. For example, markkers from the firsst level, e-cullture level, shhould be consiidered in all localized web bsite designs, i.e. they should be given the highhest priority, bu ut the level of llocalization can n be considered as a minimal. Using U markerss from all levvels will resuult is a maxiimal localization. Therefore, theese levels are organized o as a pyramid (seee figure 2), whhere us level. The five groups andd the each level addds more culturral adaptation to the previou degree of im mportance for cultural c adapteed website dessign are basedd on our previious research studdies discussed in (Mushtaha & De Troyer 20 009).

Vistaa Variab ble Broad d Stable e cultu ure Markers Pyramid d Guideline Figuree 2. Cultural M bsite Except for level 1 (ee-culture levell), each level considers maarkers for web ments as welll as some aanthropologicaal cultural diimensions. Soome design elem anthropologiccal cultural dim mensions needd to be consid dered in order to understand the target culturee when designning a website that need to be b culturally adapted a (Huangg & Deng, 2008).. The first leveel of the culturral markers pyyramid (the e-cculture level) only o considers maarkers for website design elem ment due to thee fact that this llevel is only abbout applying thee new digitall culture which comes fro om using thee Web and new n technologies. Social culturee, and thereforre anthropologgical cultural ddimensions, is not n the e-culturee level. The fiffth level of thee cultural marrkers pyramid, the considered in vista level, iss targeted towaards full localizzation and therrefore considerrs (cumulative)) all the related an nthropological cultural dimennsions and website design maarkers. The webbsite design ellements considdered for the different d levelss are: (1) Textt on websites [T];; (2) Layout and a Organization [L]; (3) Coolors [C]; (4) Pictures, Grapphic Elements, annd Sound [GS S]; (5) Interacction [I]; and (6) Navigatioon [N]. They are


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summarized in table 1. The anthropological cultural dimensions considered are 16 existing cultural dimensions. Table 1. Website design elements considered Design element Text on websites [T] Layout and organization [L]

Colors [C] Pictures, graphic elements and sound [GS] Interaction [I]

Navigation [N]

Explanation For this element, we consider issues such as the actual content (e.g., level of formality), language used, language cues, text orientation (centered, left-right, right-left), font type, size, and style. This design element has to do with the general appearance of a page (look and feel, and form); the organization of information; positioning of the banners and menus - Position of information in a website (e.g., Arabic audience read from right to left and the first concentration on the page start from the top right). Here we consider the use of colors and color combinations. For this design element we consider the use of graphic elements such as images, illustrations, photographs, icons, symbols, flags, and gestures.Metaphors used; music, video and voice; banner adverts; and trust signs. For this element we consider issues related to any form of communication between a user and the website (input – output techniques and feedback). For this element we consider issues about the possibilities a user has to move through the website (links, menus, dialog boxes, and control panels)

We now describe the five cultural levels. We explain how the design elements considered in table 1 should be adapted for each level (some adaptations are required and some are advisable to consider during website localization), and which anthropological cultural dimensions should be taken into account for each level. Please take into account that the levels are cumulative; a higher level should also consider the guidelines form the lower levels. 4.1. CULTURAL MARKERS PYRAMID 4.1.1. E-Culture Level As this level only considers website design elements and no cultural dimensions, we only indicate how the website design elements given in Table 1 should be adapted to achieve this first level of localization. Table 2 summarizes this. For example, in order to localize website text (element [T]) using this level of localization, two things are required: (1) translate the website text to the target language, and (2) investigate if there are specific font size and text orientation requirements from the domain or the context that need to be taken into consideration. Note that for this level, it is not required to consider the issues such as the amount of text, the font type and formality of the text. Note that the three different types of digital cultural makers identified in section 3.1.


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Table 2. Markers for the e-culture level Design Element [T] [L] [C]

[GS]

[I]

[N]

Markers (requirements and advices) (R): required, (A): Advice - Used the target language (R) - Use text orientation and font size as required by the domain or context (R) - All of these design elements need to satisfy the requirements of the domain of the website. (R) - Red, green, black, white, orange and blue colors are culturally sensitive colors. Avoid using culturally sensitive colors in this level. It is also preferred to use the standard Web safe colors. (R) - Use colors that are relate to the website’s domain (i.e. colors whose have a common meaning for Web users with different cultural backgrounds). (R) - Avoid any type of graphical elements that carries a specific meaning related to a specific culture. (R) - Use pictures, symbols and icons known by most of the Web users and that are related to the website’s domain. (R) - Symbols having cultural links should be omitted. (R) - Trusted signs: use content and security trust signals(e.g., logos of the security company who takes care of payments)that are shared between all Web users with different cultural backgrounds. (A) - The interaction must meet the characteristics of the website’s domain. For example: children’s websites need special interaction techniques. Moreover, interactions in blogs and wiki’s are different from interaction provided for ecommerce and university websites. For that, the website’s domain plays an important role in defining and choosing the proper form of interaction. (R) - Well-known links (e.g., contact, about us, site map) should be available on all websites. (R) - Link organization: links should be organized in a common (usable) way. Some commonly related website links needs to be group together because websites users may be used to find them together (e.g., contact link may contains sub links such as contact by email, contact by web form, contact details, etc.). (A)

4.1.2.Stable Cultural Level This is the second level in the cultural markers pyramid. It considers website design elements but also anthropological cultural dimensions that are essential for this level of cultural adaptation. This level includes all cultural markers that were clearly identified and found in many previous researches, and confirmed by our previous research studies (see section 2), hence the name “Stable”. Markers for the “Stable” Level Table 3 summarizes how the different website design elements should be adapted for this level. For example, as shown in the table 3, the amount of text needed and the formality of the text are both culturally sensitive and need be considered at this level. Thus, the amount of text and the formality of the text need to meet the expectations of


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the target culture (e.g., some societies are expecting to find more information and require more explanation, while other society’s prefer quick and direct information). Table 3. Marker for the “Stable” level Design Element [T] [L]

[C]

[GS]

[I]

[N]

Markers (requirements and advices) (R): required, (A): Advice - Adjust the amount of text to the target culture (R) - Adjust the level of formality of website text to the target culture(A) - Organize and group information according to the requirements of the target culture (R) - Position of information in a website is partly cultural dependant (e.g., some users starts from the center of a website homepage while other at the top) (A) - Culturally sensitive colors such as red, green, black, white, orange and blue need to be considered carefully to be congruent with the expectations of a target society and the domain of use. For example, what does the use of the red color in the news domain mean for Belgians? (R) - Every icon, picture and graphic element should be evaluated and it should be assured that those elements carry the true meaning for the targeted culture. (R) - Pictures and symbols in a website need to be related to the target culture, but pictures related to the history of the targeted culture should be avoided (e.g., a university website could include pictures of university students and buildings but pictures of historical building of the target society should be avoided if not necessary). (R) - Music, video, and voice need to be adapted to the target culture. (R) - The formality of the relationship between the website owner and visitor needs to be investigated and understood, as this can have an impact on the style of feedback, content of contact forms, results of search engines, suggestions and comments. (R) - Investigate the rules and policies about privacy of user information (e.g., in some culture it may not be acceptable to collect private information by means of cookies(Hormozi 2005)). (R) - How the people from the target culture find and retrieve information. (R) - How the people from the target culture expect to find information they are looking for (link grouping). (A) - The number of links in a group on a website page. (A)

Anthropologists Cultural Dimension for the “Stable” Level The following present the considered anthropological cultural dimensions for the stable level and explain their influence on website design. Context: “The degree of direct and explicit information needed in a website” The amount of information required, whether explicit or implicit, is culturally sensitive. This cultural dimension affects the following website design elements:


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T

L

C

GS

I

N

Experience of Technology:”Does the technological experience affect website usability?” For this dimension the website developer needs to investigate the attitude of the members of the target culture towards technological development, e.g., are people willing to absorb information technology and use new technology? This cultural dimension affects the following website design elements: T

L

C

GS

I

N

Uncertainty avoidance: “How do Web users from the target culture react when threatened by uncertain or unknown situations?” The degree of formality, predictability, punctuality, information structures, tolerance for ambiguity, focus on tradition, and acceptance of changes all differ between societies. This cultural dimension affects the following website design elements: T

L

C

GS

I

N

Power Distance: “Which communication style and relationship between website owner and the targeted audience is required?” This cultural dimension provides insight into how the people from the target culture interact in situation where differences in power is involved, which will influence proper website feedback, error messages, information structuring, etc. This cultural dimension affects the following website design elements: T

L

C

GS

I

N

4.1.3. Broad Cultural Level This level is the third level of cultural adaptation. The “Broad cultural” level contains a collection of cultural markers discovered by our recent research studies. Markers for the “Broad” Level Table 4 summarizes the markers for the different website design elements that need to be taken into consideration for this level. For example, as shown, for this level it is required to investigate how the target audience perceives the text density, font size and style. These three text design elements are understood differently among Web users from different societies.


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Table 4. Markers for the “Broad” level Design Element [T] [L]

[C] [GS]

[I] [N]

Markers (requirements and advices) (R): required, (A): Advice - Adapt text density, font size and style to the preference of the target society. (R) - The look and feel of advertisements should follow the user’s cultural background. (R) - Position, placement and length of paragraphs should be adapted to the user’s cultural background. (A) - The organization and layout of external information (e.g., RSS feeds) should be adapted. For example, some users from specific cultural backgrounds prefer to know where the information comes from. There are users who prefer to distinguish between the website’s own information and information obtained from external sites. (A) - The adaptation has to be done according to the previous cultural level; there are no special requirements in this level. - Investigate how much icons, pictures, and graphic elements need to be available in the target website for the target culture. (A) - Investigate how the dimension and size of graphical elements is perceived in the culture. (R) - For some cultures, videos are the preferred form of getting information, while for others text would be better. For example in news websites it is vital to investigate if the website’s targeted audience within the target cultural group prefers to read news in text style or as video, or both. (R) --- No especial action is required for this level. - The information accessibility should meet the user’s cultural expectations:e.g., do they prefer one or different paths to arrive to the same information. (R) - It may be necessary to adapt the time needed to visit a page (this marker help to know how much information and links can be put on a page) (A) - The navigational style should meet user’s cultural expectation. (A)

Anthropologists Cultural Dimensions for the “Broad” Level The cultural dimensions to be considered in the “Broad” level are the following.In brief, the impact of these cultural dimensions on website design elements is given. International trade and communication: “Are there national or international trade rules that need to be follow”. This dimension has to do with how much people from the targeted culture are actually concerned with or rely on standards fortrade, both nationally and internationally. This cultural dimension affects the following website design elements: T

L

C

GS

I

N


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Gender roles: “Refers to the value placed on traditional male and female roles”. In various societies in which feminine roles are clearly visible, there is a preference for pictures, news, and activities related to social life. For example, for a website selling cars it would be advisable to know how much the target audience is influenced by gender roles. In this example, it would allow the web designer to find out if there is a preference for pictures of actual vehicles alone, or in combination with a family, or in front of houses. This cultural dimension affects the following website design elements: T

L

C

GS

I

N

Human nature orientation: “what are the good and bad things seen or perceived by the target culture?” People differ in terms of their understandings in things that are good and bad. There is also a difference in the acceptance of images or symbols in cultures. This cultural dimension provides information on how the target society is capable of changing and whether or not it accepts elements from other cultures. This cultural dimension affects the following website design elements: T

L

C

GS

I

N

4.1.4. Variable Cultural Level The variable cultural level is the fourth level in the cultural markerspyramid. The cultural markers involve in this level were identified earlier in different cultural and website design studies, but do not clearlyappear anymore in our current research studies, hence the name “variable”. Markers for the “Variable” Level Table 5 provides a summary of the website design markers for the variable level. For example, for the text element two markers are added: (1) Information outside the website domain but relevant and important for the target audience could be added (this is an advice). As anexample, a transport website could include information about new vaccines against certain diseases.For this, Web developers should investigate the target audience to reveal the information they feel is important in daily life and the need for it to be available in thewebsite. (2) Language cues and dialects: The information given should contain words and phrases from the target society (this is required). For example, a phrase in Arabic would be understandable for the entire Arab speaking word, but its meaning among Palestinians may be different from its meaning among Egyptians. At this level of cultural adaptation, local dialects should be considered.


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Table 5. Markers for the “Variable” level Design Element [T]

[L]

[C]

[GS]

[I] [N]

Markers (requirements and advices) (R): required, (A): Advice - Add information from outside the website domain: this information has to be important and localized for the targeted audience. (A) - Language cues and dialects should be adjusted to the target society (this includes words, and idioms commonly used in the target society). (R) - The website banner layout is culturally sensitive (e.g., having the banner on the top of website page and containing pictures and text showing some local culture). (A) - Colors used in a website need to emphasize a particular culture (e.g., in Africa certain colors represent different tribes). (R) - Color symbolism should be considered (e.g., the color green is a commonly accepted color for Muslims) (R) - Pictures, icons and graphic elements should be more focused on the history of the target culture. (A) - Music, videos, banners, pictures, and icons should be more cultural oriented (e.g., famous or former leaders and historical buildings). For that, the website could (for instance) be focusing on religion, leaders, and/or historical actions. (R) --- No especial action is required - Investigate which navigation depth is acceptable for the targeted audience of the specific culture. (R) - Investigate the level of familiarity needed in naming websites. (R) - Investigate the priority of links when ordering them in menus and submenu (e.g., in some cultures the “director of the research group”-link should be placed before the link of any other “member of the research group”). (R)

Anthropologists Cultural Dimensions for the “Variable” Level Three anthropological culture dimensions are considered in this level.The following discusses these dimensions and maps the impact of each cultural dimension onto the website design elements. Time perception: “how cultures respond to time and how much they focus on the future”. This cultural dimension indicates how the target audience links historical events with the current time and the future. For example, in some cultures users expect to see the same style of homepage icon or email icon in every website they visit, because they have seen it previously on websites and they expect to see it in every future website they encounter. This cultural dimension affects the following website design elements: T

L

C

GS

I

N


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Affective vs. neutral: “How do the people from the targeted culture express their emotions?” This cultural dimension gives essential informationon estimatingthe amount of emotion that is needed for a picture and even in the text of the website. This cultural dimension affects the following website design elements: T

L

C

GS

I

N

Face-saving: “What are issues and acts that avoid a loss of dignity?” This dimension gives information about the requirements that need to be taken in order to avoid a website owner/user losing respect or dignity. Moreover this cultural dimension helps to know how the people from a specific culture prefer to receive questions, feedback, and error messages. This cultural dimension affects the following website design elements: T

L

C

GS

I

N

4.1.5. VistaCultural Level The “Vista” cultural level is the fifth and last level in the cultural markers pyramid. It considers the following four anthropological cultural dimensions which are not noted their presence neither in our current or in previous others research studies(Mushtaha & De Troyer 2009). And therefore no website design elements markets for this level. Individualism vs. Collectivism: “Do people from a target culture prefer to do things as individuals or in groups?” This cultural dimension helps to identify some requirements for the website, e.g., societies based on collectivism need more collaborative-oriented features, such as FAQs and troubleshooting supports. This cultural dimension effects the following website design elements: T

L

C

GS

I

N

Internal vs. External Control: “How much do people from a target culture adapt to and are controlled by their environment?” This cultural dimension offers information on how the people from different cultures can adapt or refuse to adapt themselves, to new concepts and ideas. It also indicates how targeted groups react to unexpected or unknown situations (e.g., adapt to or refuse a new concept; blame the website designer or themselves if there are unclear concepts). This cultural dimension affects the following website design elements: T

L

C

GS

I

N


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Achievement vs. Ascription: “How do the people from the target culture prefer to be questioned?” It is important to know how to ask the website users questions, and which communication style is common to use (i.e. how do you address people), the types of questions that can be asked (e.g., people from some cultures will be pleased if they are asked where they studied, others not). This cultural dimension affects the following website design elements: T

L

C

GS

I

N

Universalism vs. Particularism: “What is more important - rules or relationships?” How much does the targeted culture adhere to specified rules, customs, rituals, heroes and values? This cultural dimension affects the following website design elements: T

L

C

GS

I

N

4.2. USING THE CULTURAL MARKERS PYRAMID LEVELS The degree of website localization needed will vary from country to country, and between websites even within the same country (e.g., websites from the same country may show more or less cultural markers than others). Thus, the cultural markers pyramid can be useful in Web localization, by being able to choose the level of localization needed. 4.2.1. Bottom-up Website Localization The cultural levels should be applied respectively, starting from the bottom of the cultural markers pyramid towards the top in the correct order. This is because the markers in a level must be read as cumulative; each level depends on each lower level. The first part of the localization process is to specify how the six website design elements, given in Table 2, should be adapted in the target website. This should be done considering the specifications given in each level. For this, the target culture should be investigated (e.g., using existing studies orby interviewing people from the target culture or people having a good understanding of target culture preferences). The eculture level can be achieved by interviewing experts with a good understanding of the domain of the target website and of the Web culture. Every cultural dimension considered in the cultural markers pyramid and required for the targeted level of localization, needs to be evaluated to see how the target culture is positioned with respect to the specific cultural dimension. Then, their effects on the website design elements should be investigated. 4.2.2. Website Internationalization To achieve internationalization, i.e. have a website that is understandable and acceptable by all cultures, only the first level of the cultural markers pyramid, the “e-


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culture level�, should be considered. This is because this level contains the digital culture, which is shared and understood by all Web users, bypassing the cultures.

5. Conclusions The main contribution of this paper is a multi-level cultural markers pyramid for the development of cultural-centered websites. The cultural markers pyramid classifies the factors that contribute to cultural adaptation into a number of levels. This approach comes from the observation that one single cultural model for localized website design could, in fact, be a poor choice because different levels of localization may be needed in different situations. The different levels in the cultural markers pyramid allow these different degrees of localization. The degree of localization needed varies from country to country and, in some cases, even within the same country. Also the available resources to develop a website may be a factor that influences the choice for a certain level of localization. The cultural markers pyramid identifies important cultural dimensions to be used as well as aspects of website design elements that are important at the different levels of the cultural markers pyramid. Furthermore, this cultural markers pyramid is based on a number of findings. First, Web users are using two different types of cultures to understand a website: (1) a digital culture and (2) a social culture. The digital culture is shared between all Web users from different cultural groups and is created by using the Web. The social culture is the result of growing up and living in a certain social environment.Secondly, there are some cultural markers related to a specific domain but shared between all Web users, also from different cultural groups. There are also cultural markers shared between all Web users and independent of a domain. These two types of cultural markers have an important impact on website design, and it is necessary to consider them in the first level of localization, as well as for international websites. It must be note that the cultural markers pyramid only provides generic guidelines, which still need to be instantiated for a certain culture. To help a website designer with this task, we developed a Localized Website Design Advisor (LWDA) tool in order to dynamically generate target localized website specifications depending on the target country, language, and level of localization (1 to 5),and depending on the needs and website domain. For the time being, the tool supports the Chinese culture and more in future. This tool will be described elsewhere.

References Aykin, N., Batra, S. & Bishu, R., 2007.Usability and Internationalization.HCI and Culture N. Aykin, ed., Springer Berlin Heidelberg. Barber, W. & Badre, A., 1998.Culturability: The merging of culture and usability. The 4th Conference on Human Factors and the Web. AT&T Labs, pp. 1-10. Daniel, A.O. et al., 2011. Cultural Issues and Their Relevance in Designing Usable Websites.Computing, (February), pp.20-29.


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De Troyer, O. et al., 2006. On Cultural Differences in Local Web Interfaces.Journal of Web Engineering, 5(3), pp.246 - 265. Gillham, R., 2004. Towards a Strategic Model of Design Support for Localisation.Designing for Global Markets 6, (1980), pp.103-113. Hofstede, G., 2001. Culture’s consequences: Comparing values, behaviors, institutions, and organizations across nations S. Publications, ed., Sage Publications. Hormozi, A.M., 2005. Cookies and Privacy.Information Systems, 13(6), pp.51-59. Huang, K.-hsun & Deng, Y.-shin, 2008. Social Interaction Design in Cultural Context : A Case Study of a Traditional Social Activity. International Journal,2, pp.81-96. Marcus, A. & Ackerman, S.K., 2002. Mapping user-interface design to cultural dimensions A. Marcus, ed. Organization, (July), pp.1-54. Marcus, A. & Gould, E.W., 2000. Cultural dimensions and global web user-interface design: What? so what? now what? 6th Conference on Human Factors and the Web in Austin, 7(4), pp.32-46. Mushtaha, A. & Troyer, O.D., 2007.Cross-Cultural Understanding of Content and Interface in the Context of E-Learning Systems.In Usability and Internationalization. Springer, pp. 164173. Mushtaha, A. & Troyer, O.D., 2009. Cross-Culture and Website Design: Cultural Movements and Settled Cultural Variables. In N. Aykin, ed. Internationalization Design and Global Development. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, pp. 69-78. Reed-Swale, T. W., 2009.Engaging Digital Natives in a Digital World.Connect, 22(February), pp.22-25. Shi, Q., 2007. Cultural Usability: The Effects of Culture on Usability Testing. In HumanComputer Interaction – INTERACT 2007. pp. 611-616.


M. Strano, H. Hrachovec, F. Sudweeks and C. Ess (eds). Proceedings Cultural Attitudes Towards Technology and Communication 2012, Murdoch University, Australia, 100-104.

“IT IS MAGIC”: A GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE ON WHAT TECHNOLOGY MEANS TO YOUTH ERIN BUEHLER, FAHAD ALAYED, ANITA KOMLODI UMBC, Baltimore, USA AND SERENA EPSTEIN The American School of Tangier Tangier, Morocco

Abstract. As technology becomes ever more pervasive, it is increasingly important to understand the relationships between technology and youth. We seek to understand this bond at a global level. We have conducted focus groups and video diaries with middle-school aged children in three different countries: Hungary, India, and Morocco. Our exploration has yielded five themes highlighting the emotional perspectives of youth regarding the devices in their everyday lives: 1) awe and appreciation, 2) fun and entertainment, 3) boredom, 4) communication, and 5) negativity. This paper discusses these themes and their significance.

1. Introduction Technology literacy has become an important skill for an individual’s success both in academic life and the industrial world. In one recent survey, 87% of Americans said that “using technology effectively” was a very important skill for youth to have in the 21st century (The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, 2004). Children spend hours interacting with computers, playing games, and communicating with friends over the Internet (Bruckman, et al, 2011). “Digital technologies” are increasingly important for children (Carrington and Robinson, 2009). Technology not only plays an important role in the lives of adults, but also has great influence on children. Extensive research exists in the area of children and technology, but there has been very little regarding the emotional attitudes these devices evoke in young people and the extent to which those attitudes are present internationally. In this paper, we describe a study offering perspectives from multiple cultures examining these questions: What does technology mean to youth? What emotions and sentiments do young people hold for the loss of access to these devices? Our findings suggest that there are strong emotional ties between children and the technologies with which they interact. We found indications of deep, positive


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attachment to everyday devices, and we also noted volatile reactions when the children were posed with questions about the loss or absence of those items. Lastly, children did not always perceive technology positively. We will explore these findings by way of five themes discovered during our analysis.

2. Methodology Our study consisted of a combination of focus groups and video diaries conducted in three countries: Hungary, India, and Morocco. The children in all three countries came from middle to upper class families. They had exposure and access at home to much of today’s popular technology, such as video games, mobile phones, computers, and the Internet. By engaging participants from three separate countries with very distinct cultures, we hoped to approach this topic from an international perspective, capturing the views of young people around the world. Focus groups were composed of three to five students aged 10 to 15 years, separated by gender. Questions were semi-structured, targeting the children’s use and understanding of technology. These sessions were approximately one to one-and-a-half hours in length and documented with video and/or audio recording equipment. Video diaries were recorded by four to seven pairs of students at each site with one primary student and an assisting partner of the same gender. Diary students were assigned a set of tasks directing them to document and describe devices in their homes, technological experiences with their family members, and to share their opinions. Table 1. Participants by gender and country.

Female Male

Hungary 23 26

India 24 23

Morocco 11 15

Data collection for the Moroccan video diaries is ongoing as of this publication, but all other audio and video recordings were transcribed and cross-coded using a grounded theory approach. Two researchers coded the data in a two-step process. First, high-level themes were identified. Next, lower-level categories in the data coded and compared to generate the themes presented in this paper .For the Hungarian students, transcriptions were translated from Hungarian to English. For the other two countries, all participants responded in English, however, this was not their native language.

3. Discussion In our analysis, we focused on occurrences in the data exploring the meaning of and the emotional attitudes toward technology. General thoughts on specific types of technology and the reactions stirred by the loss of technology were also evaluated. Our study examines the emotional reactions and attitudes toward technology at a high level of granularity. At that level, there were no differences identified between


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the participant groups from the three different countries. All participants came from middle class families with very similar access levels to technology. They use the same devices, use similar or the same applications in all three countries, and have very similar emotional reactions toward technology. The similarity of the technological context probably has a strong impact on their attitudes and may counter cultural differences. In the focus groups, we for examples of the most often used and favorite technologies; then, we asked the children to extrapolate on their experiences with those items. Across cultures and countries, we found many similarities in the responses. Five themes emerged from our evaluation: Awe and Appreciation, Fun and Entertainment, Boredom, and Negativity. We present these themes in order of their overall frequency. 3.1. AWE/APPRECIATION Students in every country expressed a sense of awe and a deep appreciation for the presence of the devices in their lives. They spoke often and sometimes at length about both the importance and the sheer necessity of technology. This theme presented itself at different points in the focus groups and in the video documentaries. When asked what technology means to them, students had profound reactions: “It is everything for me there is in life,” (HFGB); “It is magic,” (IFGG); “It means to me everything, my life,” (MFGB). The motivations for learning about technology were also explored with several boys in one Indian focus group echoing the same sentiment: “…it fascinates us.” “We get attracted towards it.” “They are something special.” (IFGB) An Indian girl offered a similar and very striking reaction: “Technology is everything God didn’t give to us.” The sense of importance and appreciation was again reflected when they were posed with losing access to a favorite piece of technology. Some students were able to shrug off the loss of certain devices, many others responded with depression or anger. “I would sit in the fridge,”( HFGB); “Life will become hell for me,” (IFGB); “You will fight [the loss] to your life.” (IFGB); “Without these, I don’t think I would be able to survive… ,” (IFGG); “I would kill myself—you know, I couldn’t stand it,” (MFGB). 3.2. FUN/ENTERTAINMENT Almost every child who was involved in this study has responded to our questions by mentioning how technology is fun and entertaining. In fact, so many of the children used these words that we felt it was appropriate to acknowledge, briefly, the potential for peer pressure, a common phenomenon amongst youths (Lewis and Lewis, 1984). Other sources for this repetition could be as simple as vocabulary constraints or the intentional and desirable outcome of reaching a consensus by using focus groups as a data collection technique (Acocella, 2011). When we asked children to tell us what technology means to them, we found “fun” was frequently a key concept immediately following the mention of most any technology. For all three countries, this was the most common answer to the explicit question, “What does [this technology] mean to you?” Replies were frequently stated simply: “It is entertaining,” or, shorter still, “Entertainment”, and, “It is for fun.” The children articulated a subtle distinction, attributing the fun of a technology to its use and not to its nature. A Moroccan girl, when asked about her laptop, said “I think that it’s


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pretty good thing – the laptop. And it’s fun using it” (MFGG), and an Indian girl similarly stated: “I think technology is fun and it can be used for other things,” (IFGG). 3.3. BOREDOM Boredom was the second-most common theme after fun and entertainment, and we believe a very strong motivator in the use of technology. During our analysis, we came across several children expressing feelings supporting this concept. In answering questions pertaining to the potential loss of one of his favorite pieces of technology, a Moroccan boy said, “If I couldn’t use a computer it would be boring,” (MFGB). Another Indian boy echoed this sentiment, “I can live without it, but I will feel very bored and unhappy… ,” (IFGB). A Moroccan girl answered the same question, stating, “Well without it I was bored and I didn’t have that stuff and I guess I’d be really, really bored,” (MFGG). Children perceive and use devices as boredom-killers. They turn to items such as video games, computers, and smartphones to lessen the feeling of being bored. Though the keywords “bored” and “boring” turned up often, this concept was also illustrated when the children referred to technology as a more general time-filler. Two children stated they use these when they have free time so it can keep them busy; a Moroccan girl said, “…if I don’t have [technology], I would just kill myself with work,” (MFGG). This clearly indicates that technology is perceived as a reliable means to pass the time, but there is another side to technology and boredom that we will discuss later. 3.4. COMMUNICATION When asked what technology means to them or what they think about technology, many of the children answered with communication. While this concept is not intuitively labeled an emotional response like other themes we have discussed, it appears to hold great significance to the children in our study. Their comments painted a picture of communication as a way to maintain personal connections and to preserve intimacy despite distance. One Hungarian girl said of cell phones, “I can reach people. I can tell them anything,” and another Hungarian girl in a separate group described her cell phone as, “… a basic necessity.” (HFGG). Communication was also mentioned when discussing video games and their collaborative use online. One boy implied this concept when he said, “Not necessarily when you’re bored, but for playing with other people around the world, especially online,” (MFGB). When a Moroccan girl was asked what her thoughts were on the Internet, she said, “Whoever invented it is awesome. Like I use it like for everything, for projects about any questions that no one can answer them, mostly for communication.” Another Moroccan girl also mentioned communication, saying, “I can communicate, listen to music and it’s easier to play games,” (MFGG). 3.5. NEGATIVITY With the good there is also the bad. Even with all the positive emotional correlations with technology, the students were also willing to vocalize disappointment and displeasure with devices in their everyday lives. “I don’t like my phone so much, but sometimes it is good to be able to use it for what I needed. But I don’t like it very much.” (HFGG) “I just wanted to say I hate my current phone because my old didn’t


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work and I have to use this one. But I will get a new one.” (HFGG Similarly, while many children heralded technology as the boredom-killer, they also admitted sometimes technology itself was boring—even their favorites. “I think they are fun, but sometimes they’re boring.” (MFGB) “It’s a good game, but you can get bored of it.” (HFGG)

4. Conclusion In the 21st century, using technology effectively is a very important skill for youth. Children interact daily with several digital and non-digital forms of technologies. Multiple studies have been conducted to understand the interactions between children and technology, however, little research has focused on the emotional side of these interactions. Here, we looked at the emotional perspectives and the global meaning of technology to children from three different cultures. We found the young people have strong emotional ties toward technology. The frequent intensity of their reactions suggests that they consider it both a treasured possession and a necessity. We also found children do not always perceive technology positively and they are able and prepared to express negative opinions on the very items they hold so dear. Acknowledgements We would like to thank all the children in our study. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0631769. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

References Bruckman, A., Druin A., Inkpen K., & Preece J, (2001). The children’s challenge: new technologies to support co-located and distributed collaboration report on the CSCW 2000 panel. ACM SIGCHI Bulletin. Lewis, C. E. & Lewis, M. A. (1984). Peer pressure and risk-taking behaviors in children. American Journal of Public Health, 74(6), 580-584. Acocella, Ivana (2011). The focus groups in social research: advantages and disadvantages. Quality and Quantity, 33, 1-12. The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. (2004). Children, The Digital Divide And Federal Policy. Available at: http://www.kff.org/entmedia/7090.cfm. Carrington, V. & Robinson, M. (2009). Introduction: contentious technologies, Digital Literacies: Social Learning and Classroom Practices. UKLA: Sage publisher, pp. 1-10.


M. Strano, H. Hrachovec, F. Sudweeks and C. Ess (eds). Proceedings Cultural Attitudes Towards Technology and Communication 2012, Murdoch University, Australia, 105-120.

ON THE MYTH OF A GENERAL NATIONAL CULTURE Making Visible Specific Cultural Characteristics of Learners in Different Educational Contexts in German THOMAS RICHTER AND HEIMO H. ADELSBERGER Information Systems for Production and Operations Management University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany

Abstract. The concept of a few values that can characteristically explain all units of culture (Schneider, 1968, pp.1-2) within any national context generally sounds promising. In order to take design-oriented decisions on culture-specific research questions, such characteristic values, particularly if already determined for many countries, would allow a massive reduction of effort. However, we were unsure if the contexts of academic and professional education allowed the adoption of such values without loosing the characteristic information, which are crucial for designing context-sensitive e-Learning contents. In both educational scenarios we investigated the subcultures ‘faculty’, ‘university’, ‘enterprise’, and ‘nation’. In this paper, we exemplarily discuss our study’s results regarding one selected topic from our questionnaire, i.e. the ‘role of the lecturer’. Actually, we found major differences between the investigated scenarios. Thus, we came to the conclusion that in our context, adapting, e. g. Hofstede’s national values, would not lead to a learning design that takes the context-specific cultural differences into consideration.

1. Introduction In our research on methods to transfer e-Learning resources from one to another context, we investigated culturally motivated attitudes and expectations of learners. The motivation of our research is developing a toolset that supports educators particularly in developing countries, to culturally adapt Open Educational Resources that were produced in Western industrial countries (Richter & McPherson 2012) and more general, for the culture-sensitive (re-)design of e-Learning scenarios for international settings. Myers & Tan (2002) and Ali et al. (2009) investigated the exposure to culture in journals of Business Administration (BA) and Information Systems (IS) in the North American context and found that the concept of a general national culture, the dimensional model, and the related set of national values of Hofstede (1980) were highly accepted and most frequently adopted: Myers & Tan (2002, p.25) reported in their study that 66% of the analyzed research papers based on Hofstede’s dimensions and/or national values. Leidner & Kayworth (2006) analyzed 82 research papers from IS and Business Management that dealt with cultural aspects, and in those papers, approx-


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imately 60% of the ‘culture-sensitive’ decision-making relayed on Hofstede’s dimensions and/or national values. As for the study of Ali et al. (2009, p.251), in 88,3% of the analyzed papers, Hofstede’s results were adopted. The authors of all three comparative literature-studies criticized a lack of sufficient argumentation: Why did the authors of the examined papers consider the chosen concepts, values, and/or dimensional models being appropriate for adaptation in their specific research context? Richter & Adelsberger (2011) investigated the exposure to culture-related topics in two European ISJournals and came to very similar conclusions. As one possible answer, Johnston & Wrigth (2004, p.234) argued that ‘There are other ways to operationalize culture, but we have chosen this one [...] it is the work usually selected by the researchers’. Many authors in the common literature criticize Hofstede’s and others’ approaches to reducing the highly complex nature of culture (Groeschl & Doherty 2000, p.14) to dimensional models and to then, deduce consequences for whole nations and all aspects of life from those very generic excerpts: In such dimensional models, the view on culture often is reduced to cultural values (Jackson, 1995), ignoring rituals, attitudes, and particularly rather short-termed characteristics, like fashion, taste, etc. Further general critique on dimensional culture models is stated on the missing effective selectivity of the dimensions (Cramer 2007, p.24), and the generalization of context-specifically collected data on full nations (McSweeney 2002; Ng et al. 2007). McSweeney (2002) argues that the particular dimensional values, which Hofstede and Hofstede (2005, p.28) claim are persistently valid (because of their relative design), are outdated, and Ng et al. (2007) speak of invalid results because of dependent sample elements (all participants in Hofstede’s study worked at IBM). Also, the concept of national cultures in general is criticized: Leonardi (2002, p.314) dismisses the concept of national culture and claims that a cultural differentiation is needed at least on the level of spoken languages within a country. Raven et al. (1971, p.1213) consider dimensional culture-models as an inacceptable level of simplification. Walters & Bird (1987) are of the opinion that the concept of culture itself is inappropriate because of the high risk to pigeon-hole the people. Pless & Maak (2004, p.130) put into question if culture should be a concept of similarities or rather describe the level of diversity-acceptance. We adopted the culture definition from Oetting (1993, p.41) who defines culture as ‘the customs, beliefs, social structure, and activities of any group of people who share a common identification and who would label themselves as members of that group’. In order to develop and/or adopt e-Learning contents for/to certain contexts, we had to generalize needs and attitudes of individuals within those contexts. But on which level, is such a generalization appropriate in order to still meet the needs of the individuals? For our research context, we isolated some particular issues regarding Hofstede’s national values that hampered the adaptation: We found that his national values are ordinal-scaled (Richter 2010): Thus, it was impossible to deduce concrete differences between national contexts from the size of distances on the scales. Hofstede & Hofstede (2005) state that their dimension Power Distance Index is related to the relationship to authorities. They deduced concrete effects on the relationship between learners and teachers. However, it is unclear who the learners consider being a respect-person in certain learning contexts.


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We were suspicious if the very concrete attitudes in national educational scenarios, Hofstede & Hofstede deduced (2005, p.53, p.97, p.135, p.178, p.215), actually applied to both, academic and professional education. In the literature regarding appropriateness of dimensional culture-models and national concepts of culture, we found many doubts, but a lack of empirical evidence. Thus, we collected data in different educational scenarios to compare the results, and define the scope of our own collected data. In the following, the questionnaire and the settings for our studies are introduced in order to show the appropriateness and limitations of our approach. Afterwards, we discuss the results of our studies by choosing the example of the students’ perception on the role of a lecturer and comparing the results from the different contexts. We define the following hypothesizes and research question: H0: There is a general national learning culture that is valid for all learning scenarios within this nation. H1: Learning culture is specific for different learning scenarios. Research question: If H1 is true, do certain learning scenarios have specific characteristics in common – is generalizing beyond the examined context appropriate at all?

2. Questionnaire Design In the scope of our research on learning culture, several studies have been conducted. All studies used the same questionnaire on Learning Culture, which was given to the participants in their native language. The questionnaire was originally developed in German and has been translated to Korean by locals in order to ensure that the translation was context-sensitive and not literal (Pasick et al. 1996). We conducted a first teststudy in the contexts of Germany and South Korea in 2007. This version contained options for free-text answers in which the students were able to state comments on the understandability and appropriateness of the questions. Further phases of refinement were undergone, each ending with test-studies. In those phases, not only textual changes have been made but also questions were taken out of the questionnaire due to a not clearly determinable cultural background (equal distribution in all tryouts and contexts). In cases where open questions remained, further ones were added. In the standardized version of the questionnaire (99 items), four test-questions were additionally implemented in order to ensure the appropriateness of the results. Actually, we did not need to take out any sample-element due to inconsistent answers. Before implementation, the recent Korean version of the questionnaire has been cross-translated by a native speaker. The standardized questionnaire contains 99+4 items whereas additional seven items have categorical character (sample-element-number, nationality, birth year, gender, studied subject, number of semesters, institution). The culture-related items are answered on a four-point Likert scale. We did not provide a neutral answer-option because we wanted to force the participants to take a position (Garland 1991). However, since the questionnaire was to be implemented in different (national and societal) contexts, a risk remained that items might not apply to a specific context. Thus, we implemented an option to indicate this by providing a visually separated (from the regular answer op-


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tions) field. The strategy worked: The ‘not applicable’ option seldom was used. The questionnaire was implemented as online and paper-based versions. For more information on the questionnaire and the results of the studies, please refer to (Richter 2011).

3. Study Settings We conducted the study in its online version in German universities (spring 2010). From a list of all universities in Germany, we randomly chose 25 universities and asked each administration for support by inviting the students to participate in the onlinesurvey using the internal e-Mail distribution system. 3 universities, the University of Cologne, the University of Applied Sciences Bonn-Rhein-Sieg and the University of Potsdam answered our request and sent the invitation with the link to the questionnaire to their students. After having rigorously deleted all incomplete (in the culture-specific section) responses, the following number of responses remained (Table 1): Table 1. Learning Culture survey – response rates, German universities total # of students 42369 University of Cologne 5621 FH Bonn-RheinSieg 20065 University of Potsdam

responses 1400

response rate 3.30%

female/ male ra- # of involved fatio culties 18 + ‘others’ 23.43%/76.43%

298

5.30%

56.71%/42.95%

10 + ‘others’

119

0.59%

39.50%/59.66%

3 + ‘others’

In a second wave, we invited traditional German enterprises from different sectors to involve their employees in the questionnaire. The implementation proved elusive because the enterprises did not have an own interest in the results and thus, did not want to invest working-time to completing the questionnaire. However, we were able to convince 7 DAX-noted enterprises from different sectors to participate with a small but randomly chosen number of participants. All seven enterprises agreed to randomly invite 25 employees. The agreed condition for participation was that those potential participants had a function in which further professional education was common in order to, e. g., be prepared for new tasks. The non-response rate was quite high, so that in 5/7 enterprises four and less employees completed the questionnaire. In the remaining two enterprises, which were a telecommunication concern and an energy producing concern, we received 7 and 14 responses (out of 25 invitees). In a third wave, we implemented the questionnaire in South Korea. We chose South Korea for this comparison, because of the strong cultural differences in relation to the German context and because the technological state-of-the art and the living standard are similar in both countries. Additionally, like Germany, South Korea is a language-homogeneous country1. A blurring of the results because of different cultural 1 Different to South Korea, in Germany, a lot of dialects are spoken. However, those derive from the same “high language”. Actually, the results of the study show that regrading learning culture there seems not to be an impacting difference between the eastern and the western part of Germany)


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areas related to the spoken languages2 (Leonardi 2002) can be excluded. The survey was conducted in Seoul. 40% of all South Koreans live in and around Seoul. Since by law3, it was impossible to collectively invite the students via the universities’ e-Mail distribution systems, we implemented the survey in its paper form (Summer-Autumn 2010). In order to avoid applying subjective selection criteria, we chose the participants using a random-route algorithm (Kromrey 2006, p.309-310): We entered the subway at a predefined exit and took the first entrance to the right side into the available wagon. Starting in the left rear corner from the entrance, we asked every passenger in a seemingly suitable age-range if he/she were a student and going to stay for at least another six stations (the subway in Seoul takes 2-3 minutes from station to station and completing the questionnaire took 9-14 minutes). If both answers were positive, we invited the person to participate in our survey. About half of the invited students refused the participation in the metro-survey. In autumn 2011, we additionally managed convincing two Korean universities (Chung-Ang University & KGIT) to publish the invitation for our questionnaire on their internal websites. In those cases, we used the online-form of the survey in Korean language. In total, we received the following numbers of responses (Table 2): Table 2. Learning Culture survey – response rates, South Korean universities total # of students 1.5 Mio South Korea (Korea) 27000 Chung-Ang University 150 KGIT

responses 286

response female/ male ra- # of involved univerrate tio sities 0.019% 53.50%/45.80% 9 + ‘others’ (total 39)

47

0.17%

61.70%/36.17%

14

9.3%

35.71%/64.28%

In contrast to the German study, which focuses on distinguishing basic characteristics in learning culture between faculties (for the in-depth examination, a large number of students was required per university), the Korean study was meant to cover a large number of universities (broad scenario). To ensure reaching this aim, we chose various different subway-lines that particularly included stations leading to universities. Finally, we received results from a total of 39 universities in and around Seoul. From nine of the universities, we received each 9-47 responses, so that we were able to examine possible differences between those universities. In addition, we determined the national results on learning culture characteristics of the Higher Education (HE) sector in South Korea.

4. Data Analysis Methods First, we normalized the data (e. g., in the case of ‘teacher education’, students did not only state their main subject (‘teacher education’) but also the various possible subject 2 Right now, within a smaller scale survey, we are examining in Cameroon, how far regions with different languages (English/French) in the same country lead to different results. 3 This at least was the reason the private universities stated when declining our request to address all students through the e-Mail distribution systems.


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combinations – those were reduced to ‘teacher education’) and excluded incomplete samples. Regarding each item we calculated absolute and percentaged values, 40- and 60-quantiles, median, dispersion, distribution between female and male respondents, and mean. For the German samples, we distinguished between faculties within each of the universities and calculated average values for each of the universities and enterprises. Additionally we calculated average national values on the level of universities (HE) and professional training (AE). As for the South Korean sample, we compared the universities where we gathered at least nine sample elements. We included all collected responses for the average national value. For the comparisons of different contexts, the results from the four-point Likert scale (strongly agree, 1; agree, 2; hardly agree, 3; disagree, 4) were analyzed in absolute values by counting occurrences and binarized to positive (values: 1 & 2) and negative (values: 3 & 4) results. Later on, we calculated everything basing on the positive percentaged values (the percentage of positive responses). In order to avoid increasing rounding errors, all calculations based on the full data set instead of intermediate results. The method of ‘binarising’ ordinal-scaled results is a recommended method (Baur 2008, p.282) to produce clearer results and prepare ordinal-scaled data for operations that originally are reserved for interval-scaled data. There is a very controversy discussion on applying higher-level calculations to ordinal-scaled data (Knapp 1989). We followed the recommendations of Porst (2008) to case-sensitively check the results: Calculating the variance, co-variance and standard deviation led to inconsistent results. The calculated mean, however, in all cases, was close to the median and between the 40and 60-quantiles. It provides additional information on the actual answer-distributions, which were lost during the binarising process.

4. Results and Discussion In the following, we present and compare the results of the first question-block of the questionnaire, which represents the perceptions of the participants on the role of the lecturer. We chose this example from the questionnaire for this paper, because Hofstede & Hofstede (2005, p.53) explicitly related the dimension ‘Power Distance Index’ and the results of their survey to the relationship between learners and educators. In this question-block, we asked the participants to evaluate the following seven statements: In my opinion, a lecturer is ‘an expert’, ‘an idol’; ‘a personal coach’; ‘a respect person’; ‘an unfailing person’; ‘a public figure’; ‘a trusted person’. In the following, each figure shows the results of a certain context regarding the defined items on the role of the lecturer. 4.1. ANALYZING LEARNING CULTURE IN GERMAN UNIVERSITIES First, we provide a look into the faculty results of the three investigated German universities. Afterwards, we compare the university averages with each other.


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Table 3. Faculty results of the University of Cologne Cologne

min

max

expert idol pers. coach resp. p. unfailing p. public fig. trusted p.

95.65 37.78 26.32 61.90 0.00 41.18 21.43

100.00 85.71 71.70 84.21 23.81 86.79 58.82

maxmin 4.35 47.94 45.38 20.57 23.81 45.62 36.60

not applic. 40-quantile median 60-quantile mean 0.07 2.71 2.71 1.36 21.07 2.21 6.29

1 2 2 2 4 2 3

1 2 2 2 4 2 3

1 3 3 2 4 2 3

1.11 2.42 2.38 2.08 3.50 2.21 2.74

The mean values, displayed in Table 3 take all five answer options into consideration. For the calculation of the Median, the 40-, and the 60-quantile, the answers stating ‘not applicable’ were excluded. Thus, the related percentaged values separately are displayed. Median, 40-, and 60-quantile were used to evaluate the mean. As for a better identification of patterns, we chose to visualize the percentile positive answers within net-diagrams, where the items are always on the same position. Because of the small size of the figures, this choice meant loosing information on the concrete percentaged values per faculty, but the resulting shapes clearly illustrate similarities and differences – which are needed to answer the initial research question. In the diagrams, please note that just the crossings with each axis represent defined values.

Figure 1. Comparing faculty results of the University of Cologne


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Before discussing results, we present the diagrams of the University of Applied Sciences Bonn-Rhein-Sieg (Tab. 4, Fig. 2) and the University of Potsdam (Tab. 5, Fig. 3). Table 4. Faculty results of the University of Applied Sciences Bonn-Rhein-Sieg FH BonnRhein-Sieg

min

max

max-min

expert idol pers. coach resp. p. unfailing p. public fig. trusted p.

96.55 41.38 55.17 61.11 0.00 50.00 33.33

100.00 75.00 87.50 93.75 21.05 88.89 73.68

3.45 33.62 32.33 32.64 21.05 38.89 40.35

not applic. 40-quant. median 60-quant. mean 0.00 3.36 3.69 2.01 24.16 3.36 3.69

1 2 2 2 4 2 2

1 2 2 2 4 2 2

1 2 2 2 4 2 3

1.14 2.29 2.25 1.95 2.83 2.22 2.41

Figure 2. Comparing faculty results of the Univ. of Appl. Sciences Bonn-Rhein-Sieg In figures 1 and 2, three phenomena are important: At the University of Cologne, in the faculty ‘Physics’, the characteristic of the item ‘Idol’ represents a very specific perception. With a deviation of 35% from the core field of answers, it needs to be understood as an extreme outliner within the context of the University of Cologne. The reason for this particular characteristic is unclear but might be related to very prominent professors. Further, at the University of Applied Sciences Bonn-Rhein-Sieg, in the faculty ‘Nature-Scientific Forensics’, the item ‘personal coach’ (27.50% distance to the core


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field) and in the faculty ‘Chemistry- and Material Sciences’, the item ‘trusted person’ (23.68% distance to the core field), are agreed on a much higher level than in the rest of the faculties of this university. The reason might be the very small size of those faculties, and the resulting higher level of personal contact between professors and students. Also, those two characteristics from FH BRS must be understood as extreme outliners. Table 5. Faculty results of the University of Potsdam Potsdam expert idol pers. coach resp. p. unfailing p. public fig. trusted p.

min 100.00 47.06 54.55 57.14 6.67 63.33 39.29

max max-min not applic. 40-quant. median 60-quant. mean 100.00 0.00 0.00 1 1 1 1.09 68.18 21.12 2.52 2 2 2 2.36 82.14 27.60 0.00 2 2 2 2.24 68.18 11.04 1.68 2 2 2 2.21 11.76 5.10 5.10 4 4 4 3.47 84.09 20.76 20.76 2 2 2 2.15 50.00 10.71 10.71 2 3 3 2.64

Figure 3. Comparing faculty results of the University of Potsdam Although there is a remarkable spectrum of possible answers between the characteristic curves of the faculties, a similar shape can be found throughout all displayed scenarios. In Figure 4, we display the average values of all three German universities (thin, black) and the extremes (fat, light grey – outside and inside). The consolidated average of all three German universities is displayed in dark grey color (fat). It partly is overlapped from the lines that represent each university-average.


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The average results of each university are close to each other (max. deviation below 20%). We finally found a pattern that represents the average opinions of the students in German universities: But is the pattern specific for all kind of German learners?

Figure 4. Comprehensive results of the German universities 4.2. ANALYZING LEARNING CULTURE IN GERMAN ENTERPRISES In contrast to the German higher educational context (HE) we chose the context of professional training (Adult Education, AE). We will discuss the conditions of this sample and the differences to the HE-results after having presented the AE-results in Figure 5. Table 6. Results of the German enterprises Enterprises expert idol pers. coach resp. p. unfailing p. public fig. trusted p.

tele- ener- not applic. 40-quant. median 60-quant. mean com. gy 100.00 100.00 0.00 1 1 1 1.19 57.14 42.86 9.52 2 3 3 2.53 57.14 85.71 0.00 2 2 2 2.10 42.86 35.71 0.00 3 3 3 2.76 14.29 7.14 19.05 4 4 4 3.41 14.29 42.86 0.00 3 3 3 3.00 42.86 57.14 0.00 2 2 3 2.67


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Figure 5. Comparing the results of the German enterprises The (fat) black line (Figure 5) represents the average results of both enterprises. The dark grey line is related to the energy supplier while the light grey line shows the results from the telecommunication service provider. The spectrum between both shapes lies within a similar range than between the faculties in the German universities. Both investigated enterprises are traditional German enterprises and have more than 50.000 employees. Because of the very specific characteristics, found in the AEsamples which intuitively are explainable by considering the differences between the professional and the academic contexts (discussed below), we assume that although the sample sizes were very small, the results, in their tendency, are characteristic for German enterprises and particularly significant to answer our initial research question. In Figure 6, we now contrast the AE average results and the HE average results. The black line in Figure 6 represents the AE average results, the grey line the HE average results. We can clearly distinguish the patterns regarding two items: The employees in the enterprises do not expect their lecturers to be public figures. They are expected to be specialists (experts) in the particular field of the related course content and able to share their experiences. The lecturers in the field of professional education have no further responsibility beyond preparing the employees (learners) for a concrete task. In contrast, lecturers in universities also have the subsidiary task to educate their students, e. g. regarding the achievement of soft skills. Thus, different to the HE context, lecturers in AE are not supposed to be respect persons. In the professional context (in Germany), respect is a characteristic that needs to be earned through achievements – it is not naturally given through a certain position. Another argument for this different understanding may be the difference in age between lecturers and learners: In the consoli-


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dated universities’ sample, the average birth year was 1985, in the enterprises’ sample it was 1970.

Figure 6. Comparing the German AE and HE sectors

4.3. ANALYZING LEARNING CULTURE IN SOUTH KOREAN UNIVERSITIES

In Germany, we found obvious differences between the contexts of HE and AE. In the following, we present our results from the South Korean universities (Table 7, Figure 7) Table 7. Results of the South Korean universities SK universities

min

max not applic. 40-quant. median 60-quant. mean

expert idol pers. coach resp. p. unfailing p. public fig. trusted p.

85.71 100.00 21.43 66.67 59.52 100.00 21.05 77.78 64.29 100.00 34.78 77.78 69.05 100.00

1.40 3.15 1.75 4.20 1.05 3.50 2.10

1 2 2 2 2 2 2

1 3 2 3 2 2 2

2 3 2 3 2 3 2

1.42 2.73 2.10 2.71 2.11 2.58 1.96


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Figure 7. Comparing the results of South Korean universities The basic shape of the Korean universities is similar to each other and also, a similar large spectrum of variety is shown as already monitored within the German HE context. The extreme outliners to the maximum in the items unfailing person (100%), trusted person (100%) and respect person (77.78%) are related to the Hanyang university. There is no hint why such extreme values have been found here. The ‘KGIT’ provides extreme minimum value in the items idol (21.34%) and the second lowest value regarding the item public figure (35.71% – lowest is Korea university). In contrast to all the other examined universities, the KGIT does only provide master courses and is designed for professionals. Most lectures take place at nighttime and over weekends. All taught subjects are related to media production and arts. Thus, there is some kind of parallel to the AE context in Germany. The university itself and also, many of the lecturers there are very young (and did yet not reach a high level of prominence). For the South Korean average value, we consolidated all sample-elements (total 286 responses) – the 202 responses that were included in the nine university results displayed in Figure 7 and additionally, 84 responses of students from 30 other South Korean universities, where the total sample size per university was below 9 sample elements.


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Figure 8. Comparing the average results of South Korean and German universities The differences between the two contexts are obvious, particularly regarding the opinion that lecturers are unfaultable and/or trusted persons. Those two revealed extreme differences are very meaningful to be understood as well for German guest students and educators in the South Korean HE context as also for South Korean students and educators in the German HE context. German students in the South Korean context may violate the local professors by openly putting them into question. In the German context, they are encouraged to do so. In contrast, South Korean students need strong encouragement to act against their basic understanding of politeness. Critical reflection is a basic ability taught in German universities. The extreme difference regarding the item trusted person could reveal being an issue for South Korean students in Germany. Their expectations on personal relationships and assistance might not be met. For German students in the South Korean context, this difference rather might be a welcome alternative to the more anonymous treatment in Germany.

5. Conclusion We have been able to clearly distinguish between faculties within the German universities. Thus, the existence of faculty-related learning cultures is evident. Although there was a wide spectrum of different answers, all German faculties showed similar patterns. It was possible to build average values that reflected the specific patterns of the faculties within a university. The university averages between each other also showed very similar patterns. It was possible to build an average value for the German higher educational sector. The results from the German enterprises were sound although the sample


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sizes from the two enterprises were very small: Specific expected differences between the HE and the AE sector were reflected in the results and, even if not covering the variety of possible answers in the AE sector, tendencies could be determined. The results of the German AE sector clearly revealed different patterns than those, found in the German HE sector. Thus, H0 is an untenable hypothesis and needs to be rejected. In contrast, since it was possible to distinguish between the two investigated German educational contexts, H1 is admissible and should be accepted. As for the research question, the results showed that the specific characteristics of each distinguished context (HE/AE) are preserved after building context-related national values. Also, specific characteristics have been found in the German and the South Korean HE sectors that clearly distinguish both from each other. Thus, a generalization of context related national results seems to be appropriate. However, the national values are much more useful if at least, the possible variety of answers is known. The spectrum of differences could be an indicator for the level of accepted diversity. This needs further investigation. We recommend not to just focus on the mean but to also consider the full spectrum of answers. It is unclear if other educational contexts (e. g., different types of school education) provide similar different patterns and when specific expectations/attitudes are developed. The question on different cultures within a single nation also is still open. We focus on the latter issue in our further research. In our research, the investigations were limited to learning culture and educational scenarios. The concept of a general national culture would not have been appropriate to deduce specific cultural characteristics in our context. The found differences between AE and HE can be understood as a hint that data, determined within a single enterprise, cannot be interpreted as being representative for whole nations and all aspects of life.

References Ali, R. M., Tretiakov. A., & Crump, B. (2009). Models of National Culture in IS Research. In Proceedings of the 20th Australasian Conference on Information Systems, Monash University, Melbourne, pp.246–256. Baur, N. (2008). Das Ordinalskalenproblem. In N. Baur, & S. Fromm (Eds), Datenanalyse mit SPSS für Fortgeschrittene. 2nd edition (pp.279-289). Wiesbaden: VS Verlag. Cramer, T. (2007). Interkulturelle Zusammenarbeit in multinationalen Teams. Norderstedt: GRIN Verlag. Garland, R. (1991). The Mid-Point on a Likert-Scale: Is it Desirable? Marketing Bulletin, 2/1991, Research Note 3, 66–70. Groeschl, S. & Doherty, L. (2000). Conceptualizing culture. Cross Cultural Management, 7(4), 12–17. Hofstede, G. (1980). Culture's Consequences – International Differences in Work Related Values. London: Sage Publications. Hofstede, G. & Hofstede G. J. (2005). Cultures and Organizations. Intercultural Cooperation and Its Importance for Survival. 2nd edition, USA: McGraw-Hill Publishers. Jackson, T. (1995). Cross-cultural Management. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann. Johnston, D. A. & Wright, L. (2004). The e-business capability of small and medium sized firms in international supply chains. IS and E-Business Management, 2(2-3), 223–240.


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Knapp, T. R. (1989). Treating Ordinal Scales as Interval Scales: An Attempt To Solve The Controversy. Nursing Research, 39(2), 121–123. Kromrey, H. (2006). Empirische Sozialforschung. Modelle und Methoden der standardisierten Datenerhebung und Datenauswertung. 11th edition, Stuttgart: Lucius & Lucius Verlag. Leidner, D. & Kayworth, T. (2006). A Review of Culture in Information Systems Research: Toward a Theory of Information Technology Culture Conflict. MIS Quarterly, 30(2), 357– 399. Leonardi, P. (2002). Cultural variability and web interface design: Communicating US Hispanic cultural values on the Internet. In F. Sudweeks & C. Ess (Eds), CATaC'02 Proceedings: Cultural Attitudes towards Technology and Communication (pp.297–316). Murdoch, Australia: Murdoch University. McSweeney, B. (2002). Hofstede’s model of national cultural differences and their consequences: A triumph of faith – a failure of analysis. Human Relations, 55(1), 89–118. Myers, M. D. & Tan, F. B. (2002). Beyond Models of National Culture in Information Systems Research. JGIM, 10(1), 24–32. Ng, S. I., Lee, J. A., & Soutar, G. N. (2007). Are Hofstede's and Schwartz's value frameworks congruent? International Marketing Review, 24(2), 164–180. Oetting, E. R. (1993). Orthogonal Cultural Identification: Theoretical Links Between Cultural Identification and Substance Use. In De La Rosa M. & Andrados, J.-L. (Eds), Drug Abuse Among Minority Youth: Methodological Issues and Recent Research Advances, pp.32–56. Pasick, R., Sabogal, F., Bird, J., D’Onofrio, C., Jenkins, C., Lee, M., Engelstad, L., & Hiatt, R. (1996). Problems and progress in translation of health survey questions: the pathways experience. Health Education and Behavior, 23(1), 28–40. Pless, N. M. & Maak, T. (2004). Building an Inclusive Diversity Culture: Principles, Processes and Practice. Journal of Business Ethics, 54(2), 129–147. Porst, R. (2008). Fragebogen: Ein Arbeitsbuch: Studienskripten zur Soziologie. 1st edition, VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden: GWV Fachverlage GmbH. Raven, P. H., Berlin, B., & Breedlove, D. E. (1971). The Origins of Taxonomy. Science, 174(4015), 1210–1213. Richter, T. (2010). Open Educational Resources im kulturellen Kontext von e-Learning. Zeitschrift für E-Learning (ZeL), Freie elektronische Bildungsressourcen, 3/2010, 30–42. Richter, T. (2011). Adaptability as a Special Demand on Open Educational Resources: The Cultural Context of e-Learning. European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning 2/2011. Richter, T. & Adelsberger, H. H. (2011). Kulturspezifische Untersuchungen in der gestaltungsorientierten Wirtschaftsinformatik. Essen: Due-Publico. Richter, T. & McPherson, M. (2012) Open Educational Resources: Education for the World? Distance Education, 3(2), (forthcoming) Schneider, D. M. (1968). American kinship: A cultural account. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall. Walters, J. A. & Bird, F. (1987). The Moral Dimension of Organizational Culture. Journal of Business Ethics, 6(1), 15–22.


M. Strano, H. Hrachovec, F. Sudweeks and C. Ess (eds). Proceedings Cultural Attitudes Towards Technology and Communication 2012, Murdoch University, Australia, 121-134.

REPEATING AN EXPERIMENT FROM THE USA AS A CULTURAL PROBE INTO EXPERIENCES OF COMPUTER USAGE IN JORDAN FUAD ALI EL-QIREM Department of Software Engineering Al-Zaytoonah University of Jordan, Amman, Jordan fqirem@yahoo.com AND GILBERT COCKTON School of Design, Newcastle Northumbria University, United Kingdom gilbert.cockton@northumbria.ac.uk

Abstract. Research on cultural attitudes towards Information Technologies has focused on cultural preferences for user interface styles. There has been little research on cultural differences in response to computer usage. The assumption has been that western discomfort with troublesome computers generalizes to all other cultures. We report on how an experiment from the USA was repeated in Jordan, and how results were discussed in triangulation interviews. We found that this was an effective research methodology for probing Jordanian attitudes to computer usage, which turned out to be strikingly different to well documented difficulties in the West. Triangulation interviews provided agreement with these differences, as well as revealing explanations for Jordanian user experiences. We thus illustrate how a novel research methodology can open up new foci for research on cultural attitudes towards technology.

1. Introduction: Interaction Design, HCI research, and Culture It has long been recognised that design must be sensitive to cultural differences. A product or service designed in one culture may not succeed in other cultures. What is valued in one culture may not be valued in another. What is acceptable in one culture may be unacceptable in another. Long established design disciplines such as product, fashion and graphic design have adapted to cultural differences through parallel processes of market feedback and the involvement of designers from a range of cultures. Interaction design, the design of interactions with digital products and services, had had relatively less time to adjust to market feedback, and also has highly centralised production centres in the USA and Europe. Relatively few major global digital products or services are designed outside of Europe and English speaking countries.


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Interaction design focuses on user interfaces, which creates displays and other output media such as sound, as well as user controls, navigation and dialogue structures, and also conceptualisations of functionality that support ease of use and learning. User interfaces are designed as layers, with a presentation layer over a dialogue layer over a concept layer. There is no standard vocabulary for these layers, thus Garrett (2010) splits the presentation layer into surface and skeleton elements, and refers to the dialogue layer as structure elements and the concept layer as scope elements. Interaction design can draw on extensive research on Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), “the study and the practice of usability. It focuses understanding and creating software and other technology that people will want to use, will be able to use, and will find effective when used” (Carroll, 2002). “Computer” means any technology ranging from mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets via general desktop and laptop computers to large scale computer systems, process control systems or embedded systems such as those found in automobiles. These systems may include noncomputerized parts, including other people. ‘Interaction’ covers all communication actions between users and computer user interfaces. (Dix, et al 2004). Thus HCI studies how people design, implement, and use interactive computer systems, and how computers affect individuals, organizations, and society. HCI research also develops tools used to design, build, and test and evaluate user interfaces, and methods for designing the interface. Interactive computers systems bring many benefits at work; they support user tasks by providing better access to information and more powerful forms of communication. HCI research has addressed cultural differences on user interface preferences. Much research here is consistent with Kroeber and Kluckhohn’s (1952) definition of culture as: consisting of patterns, explicit and implicit, of and for behaviour acquired and transmitted by symbols, constituting the distinctive achievements of human groups, including their embodiments in artefacts; the essential core of culture consists of traditional ideas and especially their attached values; culture systems may, on the one hand, be considered as products of action, and on the other as conditioning elements of further action.

The focus of HCI cultural research has been on the presentation layer and the symbols that appear on its surface. The aim has been to identify differences between cultures as regards preferences for colours, icons, language use, layout structure and visual style. HCI research has only recently focused on cultural differences in usage behaviours, for example, specific African mobile phone usages such as ‘beeping’ (Donner, 2007 – beeping forces a missed call to prompt a range of caller responses). However, much of this is in the context of mobile computing. Cultural differences in desktop computer user experience have received limited attention. Cultural differences could impact attitudes to usage as much as they do the aesthetic and cultural acceptability of user interface features, but, as already stated, HCI research has largely focused on the latter. We report the results of a study that sought to expose differences in user experiences with office technologies between Jordan and the USA. We adopted a novel methodology of repeating an existing US study that had reported high levels of anger


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and frustration. An initial investigation into difficulties with computer usage in Jordan had not revealed the standard western responses to challenging user interfaces. We therefore repeated a US study to establish whether Jordanian users had different experiences in response to usage difficulties. We used the results of this study in triangulation interviews to elicit Jordanian confirmations, interpretations and explanations of differences between results from two studies.

2. HCI and Usability Landauer’s (1996) seminal book Trouble with Computers did not embrace the possibility that problems facing computer users could differ across cultures. Thus Landauer wrote as if all users across different cultures would face the same usage problems, and respond with identical anger and frustration levels. However, a pilot study of IT experts (e.g., IT management, user support, systems developers) in Jordan did not reveal the sort of problems that Landauer had described for American users, but instead reported usage problems such as: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

Cultural problems, such as age, language, etc. For example, sometimes, older people in Jordan don’t accept people younger than them teaching them how to use computers Education problems, for example, education levels affect user’s experience. Education policy, for example, younger users with higher education have more knowledge of computers Competence issues: users need more practice and more skills. Infrastructure of computer networks and equipment problems. The cost of the equipment. When the cost of good computer equipment is high, the quality of affordable equipment will be poor. Complexity: When program difficulty increases, computer problems will increase. Software problems, for example sometimes software is not appropriate and needs more development to meet Jordanian user needs.

Several factors that were revealed by the pilot study were clearly territorial (i.e., related to cultural or other factors with a national or regional scope, Qirem and Cockton, 2011), but had not been reported in existing HCI research on cultural differences in attitudes towards information technologies, for example: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Age Differences (reluctance to accept training from younger instructors) Religion (no money interest calculation in Islamic banks) Currency differences (need to use Jordanian Dinar) IT Education in Schools Access to, and Experience with, Technology (daily experience of dealing with computers at work and home)


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Some of these factors (e.g., 4 and 5) had been covered in other research in countries such as the UK and USA in the 1980s and 1990s, including Landauer, who did mention the cost of computers (factor 5, access to computers). Even so, poor usability and resulting user anger and frustration were extensively reported in the 1980s and 1990s in Western HCI literature, yet no Jordanian IT expert mentioned these as major problems with computer usage in Jordan. This was surprising, so we decided to explore further whether Jordanian users really were not frustrated by usage difficulties.

3. Repeating an Experiment as a Probe to Investigate Differences between the US and Jordan As stated, our initial investigation had not revealed the range of usage difficulties and adverse user responses that typified western studies in the 1990s as summarised in Landauer’s (1996) Trouble with Computers. This could have been due to an improvement in the usability of computer software, but a decade after Landauer’s book, a US study by Lazar et al. (2006) still found that anger and frustration remained a regular consequence of computer usage. Our initial study had revealed no evidence of this, and the first author of this paper was not surprised. As a Jordanian, he had not witnessed the types of adverse emotional responses reported in the western HCI literature and recorded on videos uploaded to the web. To establish the extent of anger and frustration resulting from Jordanian computer usage, we repeated a study by Lazar et al. (2006). The study was repeated in Jordan as a probe, that is, to find the response of users when facing any computer problem and how this could affect their day. Given the inability to replicate due to uncontrollable confounds; we have to be careful in drawing conclusions from differences between US and Jordanian data. Therefore we need to understand the differences between US and Jordanian results. To reduce reliance on quantitative comparisons, we also gathered qualitative data on completion of our repeat study. Discussions during distribution and collection of questionnaires and reports had already indicated that much work did not depend on a computer, and that there were other ways of achieving goals other than immediate success in a computer-based context. We clearly needed to investigate how work and judgements of performance were constructed in Jordanian contexts. We believed that influential factors could include the roles of explanation in social settings (accountability), negotiation (social construction) and individual autonomy on task execution (institutionalization). Such social concepts are relevant to understanding computer-based work performance. We thus used follow-up interviews to explore how work-based factors may explain any revealed simple differences between US and Jordanian users, but did not prime for any of the social constructs that we thought may be at work. The aim of the follow up interviews with IT experts, students and employees was to simply discuss differences between the Jordanian results and those of Lazar and colleagues (2006). We were particularly interested in responses to the findings, which were already clearly different for Jordan and the US. The interviews used the results of the repeated study as a probe to collaboratively explore the cultural factors that influence respondents’ attitudes and behaviours in response to usage difficulties.


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Lazar et al. (2006) used a pre- and post-test questionnaire in combination with a self-report form for frustrating incidents. A range of measures in the pre- and post-test questionnaires were tested for correlation to assess the impact of computer usage on a range of affective measures. A frustrating incident report form asked users to categorise their emotional responses to usage difficulties. After the repeated study we carried out triangulation interviews for a range of reasons. Firstly, we could not regard our study as a replication due to an inability to control potential confounds in both Lazar et al. (2006) and our own study, which were both naturalistic, because incident reports were based on the computers and software applications in use for the tasks current during the hour of incident reporting. Secondly, samples could not be matched, although we had a larger sample and could in principle have selected some random subsamples of identical size to Lazar et al.’s sample. Thirdly, Lazar et al. (2006) did not report their statistical results in enough detail (and also did not make any Bonferroni adjustments) to allow confident comparisons. However, these confounds were mostly well enough understood before repeating Lazar et al.’s study in Jordan for us to see the value of triangulation. This made the results of the repeated study a probe, i.e., a set of materials to which participants and IT experts could respond. Table 1 summarises how triangulation interviews used to address some possible confounds. Table 1. Confounds and Triangulation Tactics Apparent Result

Possible confounds

Triangulation

Frustration levels in

Different computers,

Users’ explanations of, and

Jordan are lower than in

different software.

comments on, the results

USA.

Random in US and random in Jordan.

Most US users become

Computer usage in USA

As above, triangulation

angry at the computer, but

is more developed, so

may confirm this confound,

very few Jordanians do.

users understand and

or reveal other reasons

expect more. The aim of the interviews was to collaboratively explore the differences between our results and those from Lazar and colleagues (2006). They were a form of participant triangulation (Falloon, 2004), where results are reported back to (some) participants to investigate their reactions. Participant triangulation let detailed qualitative data be related to more shallow quantitative data from questionnaires. As we could only repeat, and not replicate, Lazar and colleagues’ study, participant triangulation let us reduce some of the concerns about the lack of control within and between the two studies by returning to participants and IT experts to discuss whether our results were credible, and whether this credibility could be reinforced by plausible explanations of differences in frustrations between Jordan and the USA.


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3.1. PARTICIPANTS For the repeated study there were 161 Jordanian participants. 109 students participated (27 females and 82 males), and 52 employees participated (16 females and 36 males). For the triangulation interviews, there were 25 Jordanian participants: 15 IT experts (from the first study), 6 students and 4 employees. We showed the results at the start of the interview and then asked three main questions. The first asked them what they thought about the results. The second question was about their own feelings before, during, after their study session. IT experts were not asked this question, as they had not participated in the repeated study. The third question asked participants to explain or challenge our results. Most of the semi-structured interview focused on whether, and if so, how and why there were different frustration levels in Jordan and the USA. We used semi-structured interviews because we could add and discuss questions with participants to avoid any bias from misunderstanding the US study results. The interviews started by giving general information and the data that we found from repeating the Lazar study in Jordan such as, total numbers of students and employees in both Jordan and the USA, selfrating of computer experience, and reported frustration levels for Jordan and the USA.

4. The Results of the Repeated Study and Triangulation Interviews The results of the pre- and post-test comparisons are complex and require careful interpretation. They are not presented here. Instead, we present the distribution of reported feelings from the self-report forms for frustrating usage incidents for students and employees. Table 2 shows the distribution of feelings reported by Jordanian students and US student in response to frustrating incidents. There are striking differences in the responses of US and Jordanian students. In Jordan, 30% (30 reports) indicated a neutral response, 20% (19 reports) were angry with themselves, and only 6% (6 reports) were angry at the computer. 8% (8 reports) selected other, without mentioning any specific feelings. On the other hand, the US students’ reported feelings after a frustrating experience are different: 41.9 % (155 reports) felt angry at the computer, but only 4% (15 reports) felt angry with themselves. Some responses were quite similar in Jordan and US, for example, in Jordan 25.8% (25 reports) and in US 22.7% (84 reports) reported being determined to fix the problem. Table 3 shows similar differences in distribution of reported feelings for Jordanian and US employees after a frustrating experience. In Jordan, employees mostly felt neutral 62% (24 reports), 14% (8 reports) stated a determination to fix the problem, only 3.5% (2 reports) indicated anger at themselves, and 3.5% (2 reports) indicated anger at the computer. 13.6% (7 reports) stated feeling hapless or resigned. On the other hand, 58 US employees’ reports felt angry at the computer, 34 felt helpless or resigned, and 15 reported being angry at themselves, but no US employee report communicated neutral emotional responses. Percentages cannot be reported for US employees due to anomaly with the data collection (Lazar et al. 2006).


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Table 2. Jordanian and US student feelings after frustrating experiences Jordanian Student

US Student Reports

Reports (N=109)

(N=370)

Reported Feeling

Frequency

Frequency

Angry at computer

6

155

Angry with yourself Determined to fix it

19

15

25

84

Helpless/resigned

9

45

Neutral

30

71

Other

8

-

Not answered

12

-

Table 3. Jordanian and US employee feelings after a frustrating experience Jordanian Employee

US Employee Reports

Reports

(N=149)

(N=52) Reported Feeling Angry at the computer Angry with yourself Determined to fix it Helpless/resigned Neutral Other Not answered

Frequency

Frequency

2 2 8 7 24 1 8

58 15 27 34 38 -

The repeated study thus indicated that Jordanian students and employees reported less frustration than their US counterparts when facing problems with computer usage, with only 6 students and 2 employee reports indicating feeling angry at the computer. US students and employees reported frequently stated feelings of anger at their computer when they faced a problem. The triangulation interviews confirmed that the reported frequencies of different forms of emotional response to usage difficulties were regarded as an accurate indication of how Jordanians evaluate their experiences of usage difficulties with computers. Analysis of the interview data identified five plausible explanations for these cultural differences. These are now briefly presented, with each explanation


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supported by relevant participant responses and some critical remarks. For reasons of space, only a focused discussion of the interview data is possible. 4.1. IT SKILLS AND EXPERIENCE RELATIVE TO THE USA Employees in Jordan most probably have less experience than in the USA, but they think that once they know the basics of computers that they have enough experience. Also US users with more experience, when they face a problem, may well know that sometimes that the problem is from the software or the computer itself. US users may thus be better able to attribute the causes of usage difficulties to computer hardware and software. One Jordanian IT expert reported The student experience in Jordan should be also less than that, because computers are more available in USA users’ homes than in Jordanian users’ homes. Therefore the personal experience in Jordan will be less. Also there are extra technology services available in the USA, more than in Jordan, and for a longer time, such as the internet service. In some Jordanian houses, no computer is available, and if there is a computer, it will be the only one and the number of users will be 6 to 7, therefore they don't have enough time using the computer and learning how to use it.

Another Jordanian IT expert reported Users in Jordan, when they face a problem, they can't recognize where the problem is and what is the type of this problem. Also the users don't read the help messages that pop up on the screen, they don't care about the message even if the solution is included in this message, but they ignore it and don't read it and maybe because they can't read it because it's in English language and they can't understand what it includes.

In all studies, IT experts expressed frustration at the level of IT skills and experience among Jordanian users. It is not surprising to see them explaining the relative lack of frustration and anger in terms of limited IT knowledge. However, this interpretation was not advanced by students or employees. Jordanian employees self-reported perceived computer experience on a scale of 1 (low) to 7 (high) was (N=52, mean= 6.4, SD=2.33). This compared favourably to the self ratings for US employees (N=50, mean= 6.52, SD=2.01). Similarly, Jordanian students had a mean self rating of 6.35, compared to 6.88 for US students. While the Jordanian IT experts may have been correct in believing that US students would have more IT experience than Jordanian ones, the results here are significant in that they do not indicate that Jordanian participants lacked confidence in their IT expertise. 4.2. ATTITUDE TO WORK (PERCEIVED RESPONSIBILITIES) Jordanian employees reported that if they face problems and their computer is not behaving as expected, they are happy to have a rest and enjoy a break from work. Some employees switched to using their computers for games during work or for surfing the internet until a work related problem was resolved by IT support staff. A Jordanian employee stated that Employees don't care about the work very much and most of the time don't like to work and prefer to get some rest, maybe because of the financial or social situation, which


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means they need more income to work better. At the end of the day, the employee will take the salary and this is the important thing for him, not the work.

This explanation was restricted to employees. Students faced with deadlines and assessments took their work more seriously. Motivations differed across user groups. In contrast to workers, students could suffer significant adverse consequences of computer usage difficulties: if we have a homework to do or a project to submit in the next day, and the computer that we work on has been damaged at night and we can’t do any things to solve this problem, in this case we will be very frustrated because we will losing marks and maybe we will fail and then we will repeat it, which costs us more money.

By repeating Lazar et al. study, we were able to show that there were organisational effects for some responses to usage problems. There was not a uniform Jordanian response for all reported feelings arising from usage difficulties. 4.3. ATTITUDE TO IT IN GENERAL In Jordan, people expect less from technology for a range of reasons, for example the economic situation has limited their ability to trust technology for paying through the internet. One employee reported that I found it difficult to pay something through the internet, because I heard some story of my friend who pays through the internet from a local company then his credit card number was stolen.

An IT expert corroborated this reluctance to use IT services for financial transactions: One bank in Jordan provides a service for bank users to pay all their bills online by using the computer, by taking the amount directly from your bank account. But still it is a new technology for Jordanian and it’s underused.

Low expectations of IT infrastructure reduce trust and engagement, and this may transfer to the workplace, with users expecting difficulties with computers, but this does not explain the discovered differences between the US and Jordan. US users may also expect difficulties, but still not accept the consequences of these difficulties. However, it appears that consequences may be different in the US and Jordan. 4.4. WORK CONTEXT: EXTENT OF DEPENDENCY ON IT Jordanian users can switch to other tasks when they encounter usage difficulties, but they tend to prefer to rest instead. Also, in Jordan, less work has been computerised than in the USA, and there is still much work that can be performed manually. Another consequence of lower relative computer usage in Jordan than the US is thus that there are fewer opportunities for usage difficulties to cause frustration. One IT expert reported If the computer that the users are using has been damaged, the work will be delayed. In this case they have other work that does not depend on the computer, but still they don't do that work and enjoying their time by sitting and having a rest until someone comes and fixes the computer, and if the manager asks them why you don't finish this job, they simply say that their computer has been damaged and they are waiting to have this


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solved. The work in Jordan does not depend 100% on the computer and even if the computer stops working there is other work that can be done manually.

Note the use of “damaged” here. Jordanian users often interpreted usage problems as problems with an expensive computer that should not be exacerbated by further use. There is a striking difference here between commonly applied western categories of ‘unusable’ and ‘poorly designed’ computers and software, and the Jordanian category of ‘damaged’, indicating something that could and should be repaired by IT experts, rather than made worse by users. Together, the previous factor and the current one combine to reduce the relative importance of IT in Jordan in work settings. 4.5. WORK CONTEXT: OVERSTAFFING A strong cultural influence in Jordanian work contexts is the need to find jobs for friends and family, so organisations sometimes employ unnecessary employees. Some companies in Jordan have several employees allocated to exactly the same job, therefore when they have something delay them, they can do it next day because employees are not busy all week. However, in the USA, there may well be more pressure to finish work promptly and quickly, with perhaps no time or help available to continue into another day. One employee thus noted that the [the] number of employees in the same department is more than what we need, for example, if the number of employees in some job are 7, and sufficient employees for this job are 3, therefore 4 employees are more than what we should have, and in this case if we face any problem we can keep it and stop working and continue our work later because there is another employee who can do it, because if any employee is free they will become occupied in the new work, and this is not what the employees really want. Therefore everyone delays his work to not have any extra work. Because in the end, there are many employees and most of the time they are free and can take my work if I ask them. The main reason for overstaffing is because of the relation between people: friends and relatives are employed in jobs without looking if they really want this employee or not.

Much HCI research makes fixed assumptions about the negative impact of usage difficulties. Research and practice on usability in particular makes cost-benefit tradeoffs that assume that reducing usage difficulties with computer systems will always be valued, and that conversely, all usage difficulties are to be avoided and if not, then there will be negative consequences for users and any related organisations, especially employers, schools, universities etc. As with all positions, there are values at play here, and they are received values for western work ethics, which will not generalise to all other cultures. This fifth factor in explaining the revealed differences between US and Jordanian users was associated with workplaces, and not with the university, where practices and consequences were closer to those in western settings. Students did suffer adverse consequences when usage difficulties interfered with completion of work in time for a submission deadline. Cultural differences thus do not map consistently onto territories such as nations. Where values differ within organisational settings in the same territory, these may be more influential than national factors.


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5. Discussion From our repeated study and triangulation interviews, we found that in Jordan, users very rarely get angry with their computers, even if they have difficulties when using IT. If they face any problem, they often do not know if the problem comes from the computer or from them. Even when the problem is from computer itself, they rarely become angry at their computer. They regard computers as expensive equipment that, once ‘damaged’, must not be damaged further, but must be restored to working order by IT specialists. Thus users who face usage problems don’t think how they can solve issues by themselves, but instead stop and wait for IT support, even if it is a small problem that would be easy to fix. This research that lead to these findings was motivated by the HCI literature on culture and interaction design, and its main contributions are within this field of research. HCI research on culture has tended to focus on symbolic and aesthetic aspects of user interfaces, and less on motives and work contexts. Together, the factors create contexts where both motivations to work effectively and consequences of computer problems can differ across cultures. This is well understood in the management literature, e.g., (Sidani, 2006), but such cultural factors have not yet been strong focus within HCI research. In the research reported here, we have encountered several of the factors identified for Arab work cultures (Sidani, 2006), although we were not aware of them before or during our studies. What we have shown is that it is possible to begin with an HCI focus on detailed computer usage, and to use results from such studies as a probe in triangulation interviews to connect with culturally influenced work values. We regard our research as illustrative rather than definitive and conclusive in two key senses. Firstly, the study illustrates an innovative methodological approach, i.e. of repeating a study from one national culture in another, and using the results as probes in triangulation interviews with a range of respondents with different roles and responsibilities within different organisational contexts. Secondly, the sample sizes and simple interview protocol do limit the validity of our findings, as neither allows full confidence in generalising our results across Jordanian or other Arab cultures. Methodologically, to our knowledge, this research is unique. Concerns with replicability would typically rule out valid comparisons between naturalistic studies in contexts where an adequate range of confounds could not be controlled. However, a mixed method approach that combines triangulation interviews with repeating experiments as a probe does reduce issues related to replication. Firstly, the results of the repeated experiment had face validity with some or all user groups in the triangulation interviews. The IT experts took issue with self-ratings of IT expertise, but Jordanian users’ ratings were similar to US ones. Otherwise all groups in our sample accepted the results, and could provide explanations relative to organisational, domestic or economic contexts as to why there were such apparent differences between Jordanian and US computer usage experiences. Furthermore, these explanations often match those in the management literature, which we had not surveyed prior to our results. For example, Sidani’s (2006) review and analysis of the literature on Arab work values noted behaviours such as avoidance of responsibility and risk taking, and a reluctance to delegate authority, plus values such as a high need for affiliation. All were encountered in our studies, with users leaving IT problems to the experts, avoiding risks of further


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‘damage’ to computers, and finding jobs for family and friends. Postcolonial factors are also relevant, with users trusting western software more than local Arab alternatives. This thinking is hard to change, even if the local technology becomes better than the western technology in relation to culturally appropriate criteria. This corroboration of the explanations offered by respondents in the management literature does reduce potential concerns about sample size and other aspects of research validity, but even so, we regard the results as illustrative rather than definitive. Still, we feel that the initial indications from our research should prompt a re-think of how we interpret and respond to user difficulties across national and regional cultures. Much of the overt frustration recorded in western HCI studies may be much less evident elsewhere. We should not assume that what is a usability problem in the USA will be one in Jordan, not only in its severity, but also whether it is viewed as a problem at all. Our views on the value of usability in the West are much based on the negative emotional impact of poor usability, yet in other cultures these associations may not hold as much, even at all. Localisation practices for software have tended to focus on symbolic aspects of user interfaces, such as national languages, familiar and appropriate iconography and styling, and density of displayed information. The aim here is to maintain software design quality criteria such as comprehensibility, recognisability, aesthetic appeal and usability through making changes to surface interface features. However, our findings indicate that it is not just that the same feature may be judged differently by the same quality criterion, but that quality criteria themselves may be radically different. Usability and user experience may not be valued in the same ways across different cultures, because the consequences of usage difficulties may be different too. What is an adverse consequence, potentially severe, in one culture, may not be in another. Adversity and severity are related to cultural expectations and associated values. They are not objective universal values. Both the valencing and severity of usage outcomes are culturally shaped, as is the appraisal of cost-benefit ratios. Usage difficulties in the HCI literature are regarded as reducing the worth of software systems, by increasing the costs of usage without compensating increases in benefits. However, the balance of worth, i.e., how costs and benefits trade off against each other, involves subtle judgements that are hard to articulate (Cockton, 2006). Much HCI research has assumed deterministic relationships here, with extensive usability costs always translating into reduced worth. Our research suggests that the interactions here are far more subtle, and involve factors such as a user’s ability to interpret the sources of usage difficulties, and the values associated with their usage settings. Together, these reduce our ability to make a priori judgements about the severity of costs or the value of benefits (and conversely the consequences of unachieved benefits). We need to understand a broad range of values in play during computer usage, and recognise the influence of culture over a range of levels, i.e., organisationally, nationally, regionally and globally.

6. Conclusions This study has provided some initial illustrations of how cultural differences can influence both design acceptability and explanations and evaluations of usage, which


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can have a positive or negative impact on attitudes toward, and competence with, computer based systems. Research on cultural differences within HCI needs to focus more on users’ experience, to match users’ needs, preferences, and different usage patterns. The current predominance of user interface style, language and symbols in HCI work on localisation needs to be complemented by strong understandings of how the worth of human interactions with computers is constructed in local cultural contexts. While this social shaping of technology may be broadly understood in many contexts, much cultural HCI research has narrowed the issues here to the localisation of user interface features. However, this may not result in a favourable balance of worth, especially where the negative value of usage costs and the positive value of usage outcomes (benefits) vary across cultures. This study suggests that, while the problems that face the users from different culture could be similar, users’ behaviour and experiences of dealing with these problems are culturally influenced: and the evaluation of these problems can differ across cultures. Explanations of these differences also involve cultural variables that do not figure in existing cultural HCI research, for example family obligations, which may, for example, operate in Jordan in ways that are less prevalent in western countries, especially outside of family owned businesses. Overall, HCI research on culture needs to take a broader view and engage with understandings of the social shaping of technologies in non-Western settings. However, HCI research practices can inform this wider literature on cultural attitudes towards technology. We have shown how an HCI focus on usage can be repurposed to create a probe for exploring cultural practices in relation to computer usage within mixed method studies. This supports exploration of the relationship of cultural attitudes to usage practices, not only with regard to how computers are used, but how users evaluate this usage. Such a focus on users’ evaluations of their usage experiences has not been a strong focus within localisation within HCI, or more broadly within the literature on culture and technology. This points to new opportunities and possible foci for research on cultural attitudes towards technology and communication, for example: cross cultural variations in differences between users’ evaluations of usage experiences in work and non-work usage settings (i.e., how evaluations of worthwhile usage vary between work and non-work settings vary) postcolonialism (Irani, et al. 2010) and perceptions of efficacy with digital technologies, especially in relation to possible perceptions of western superiority the influences of national IT infrastructures and educational programmes on attitudes to usage experiences with digital mobile and workplace technologies, especially if mobile operating systems replace many desktop ones (e.g., migration of operating systems such as iOS and Android from phones/tablets to desktop PCs) The above are offered as possible examples. They arise from the novel focus in this work on users’ evaluations of their usage experiences. Our findings in a Jordanian context challenge assumptions on the costs and benefits of computer usage that appear to depend on western cultural values. This calls for a more critical and detached view of


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the constituents of worthwhile interactions with computers in order to expose cultural assumptions and thereby make it possible to understand user experiences through the lenses of different cultural value systems.

References Carroll, J. (2002). Human-Computer Interaction in the New Millennium. India: Pearson Education Asia. Cockton, G. (2006). Designing Worth is Worth Designing, In A. I. Mørch, K. Morgan, T. Bratteteig, G. Ghosh, & D. SvanÌs (eds), Proc. NordiCHI 2006, pp.165-174. Dix. A, Finaly. J, Abowd. G & Beale. R. (2004). Human-Computer Interaction. England: Pearson Education. Donner, J. (2007). The Rules of Beeping: Exchanging Messages Via Intentional "Missed Calls" on Mobile Phones. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. 13(1), 1-22. Falloon. G. (2004). An analysis of the impact of an e-classroom environment on the social, cognitive and affective elements of student work practices. Published PhD thesis, Curtin University of Technology. Garrett, J. (2010). The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web. New Riders Publishing. Irani, I., Vertesi, J., Dourish, P., Philip, K. & Grinter, R. E. (2010). Postcolonial computing: a lens on design and development. Proc CHI '10. ACM, pp.1311-1320. Kroeber, A. L., & Kluckhohn, C. (1952). Culture: A critical review of concepts and definitions. Harvard University Peabody Museum of American Archeology and Ethnology Papers 47. Landauer, T. (1996). The Trouble With Computers. MIT Press. Lazar, J., Jones, A., Hackley, M. & Shneiderman, B. (2006). Severity and impact of computer user frustration: A comparison of student and workplace users. Interacting with Computers. 18(2), 187-207. Qirem, F. & Cockton, G. (2011). Computer Usage and User Experience in Jordan: Development and Application of the Diamond Model of Territorial Factors. Human-Computer Interaction. Towards Mobile and Intelligent Interaction Environments, HCII 2011 Proceedings Part III, ed. J. Jacko, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, Volume 6763/2011, Springer, 490-499. Sidani, Y. M. (2006). Work Values in the Arab Culture. Advances in Global Business Research, Proceedings of the 2006 Academy for Global Business Advancement Third World Congress, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, January 4-6, available from http://aub.academia.edu/YusufSidani/Papers/198689/Work_Values_in_the_Arab_Culture.


M. Strano, H. Hrachovec, F. Sudweeks and C. Ess (eds). Proceedings Cultural Attitudes Towards Technology and Communication 2012, Murdoch University, Australia, 135-145.

STUDENT PERSPECTIVES ON MLEARNING FOR LOCAL CULTURAL STUDIES IN MALAYSIA SHAMSUL ARRIEYA ARIFFIN University of Technology, Sydney, Australia University Pendidikan Sultan Idris (Sultan Idris Education University), Malaysia AND LAUREL EVELYN DYSON University of Technology, Sydney, Australia

Abstract. Notwithstanding the high penetration of mobile phones in Malaysia, especially amongst the contemporary generation of Malaysian students, who are technology savvy and use them with versatility, students’ acceptance of the possibility that mobile phones can be employed for learning (mLearning) with locally developed content is still largely invisible. A major factor is the lack of availability of local mobile content for learning about Malay culture. This research attempts to understand the perspective of students in Malaysian public universities on what mLearning could contribute to the study of local culture. It does this through qualitative data from 15 focus groups comprising students who had taken part in an mLearning activity. The results provide themes and directions for how mLearning can contribute to local cultural studies, and highlight benefits and challenges. This paper provides a holistic point of view of mLearning in Malaysia, whereby the local students’ preferences and requirements for mLearning are acknowledged .

1. Introduction: The Case for Local Cultural Content and Design The Malaysian Government has long recognized the importance of local cultural sustainability and the availability of local content for new technologies such as mobile phones. The previous Minister of Energy, Water and Communication Minister Lim (2005) once stated that “Content is King”. Meanwhile, the Minister of Information, Communication and Culture Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim (2010), in a press interview, has urged for more local cultural content for mobile phones to be developed. Despite the high penetration rate of mobile phones in Malaysia, there is only limited local cultural content in the national language Bahasa Melayu and limited content based on the Malay culture (Ariffin, Hoskins-McKenzie, & Dyson, 2012). This is especially so in comparison to mobile content from overseas. Ariffin, HoskinsMcKenzie, & Dyson (2012) found that there is a gap in motivation for the development


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of local content from mobile specialists within Malaysian industry. In particular, local mobile experts have expressed the view that they are not interested in developing local content for mobile learning (mLearning) in institutions of higher learning as the financial return is low. For these developers, a noble idea is not necessarily good for the mobile industry in term of optimizing profits for their companies. Within the educational environment, there is a serious concern over the lack of local cultural content for mLearning. This issue naturally impacts on students in the Malaysian public universities as they are the generation in need of local cultural learning resources. Cultural issues also impact on usability and interface design. Nielsen and Loranger (2006) recommended the inclusion of the users’ needs, including cultural considerations, when interrogating the usability of an interface design. They pointed out that most content developers tend to generalise their usability guidelines without considering the importance of specific cultural factors. Kukulska-Hulme (2008) criticised the tendency of developers to overlook usability factors in mLearning research. Reinecke and Bernstein (2011) argue that it is not feasible to design one interface that would appeal to all users. They propose that, by having a specific cultural design interface for a particular cultural group, this could help improve usability and students’ performance in learning. Inspired by the lack of research in the area of mLearning and culture, this study was initiated to investigate university students’ perspectives on local cultural content and usability with respect to mLearning in Malaysia. It took place in the context of students enrolled in cultural studies courses, whom one would reasonably expect to be more aware of the importance of local culture. At present, students from Malaysian public universities are mainly of the Malay ethnic group and profess Islam as their religion. The Malaysian Economic Planning Unit (2009) illustrates in their report on “Percentage Distribution of Households by Income Class, Malaysia” that the Malay ethnic group is the lowest income group within the Malaysian demography, with only MYR3,624 of income per month (equivalent to USD1,186.25 per month). Being in a lower income group simply means the majority of Malay students do not have the capacity to buy expensive mobile phones for learning. Despite this limitation on mobile sophistication, all the 126 students who took part in the study owned a mobile phone and were able to undertake the mLearning activities that formed part of the research. The paper begins with a description of the research methodology and then presents the findings of focus groups that were conducted after students had had the opportunity to take part in some mLearning as part of their cultural studies courses. From an analysis of themes from the focus groups a series of insights into the benefits and challenges of using mLearning in the cultural studies context emerged. The research contributes to an understanding of the potential uses of mLearning in Malaysian universities and helps towards an understanding of student preferences for local content and culturally appropriate interface design.

2. Methodology The philosophical approach of this research is qualitative and interpretive (Myers, 1997). The research is based on an intervention in which cultural studies students from


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Malaysian public universities participated. Students first took part in an mLearning activity appropriate to their course so they could experience what mLearning might be like in the context of their studies. Table 1 is a summary of the learning activities, undertaken by student participants, in which they used mobile phones. MLearning activities were student-centred, with an emphasis on active learning, such as site visits, videoing cooking sessions, rehearsing cultural performances, recording interviews, or photographing craft making. Table 1. Learning activities where mobile phones were used Focus Groups’ Names (No. of

Location Activities

of

Groups)

1

History (1)

2 3

Cooking (2) Cultural Heritage

Mobile Phone Functions Audio Photo Audiovisual/ Video

Archeological site Kitchen Museum

Site visit Video production Interview museum curator Rehearsals and event promotion Batik textile Rehearsals Rehearsals Interview local traders Demo in learning Craft Making

(3)

4

Drama Theatre

Studio

(2)

5 6 7 8

Batik Textile (1) Creative (1) Malay Drum (1) Management (1)

Workshop Studio Studio Shops

9 10

Edu Research (2) Wood Craft (1) TOTAL (15)

Schools Workshop

Report Outputs by Focus Groups

15

7

2

Afterwards data was collected from focus groups (Hancock & Algozzine, 2006). The aim of the focus groups was to understand the contribution of mLearning to local cultural studies subjects and to gauge student perceptions of mLearning by asking them about the currents benefits and challenges. There were 15 focus groups (Table 1). Each of the focus groups had at least 6 student-participants, with the exception of one which had only 4 student-participants. According to Barbour (2007), there are no magic numbers for the numbers of participants for each focus group. Students were recruited from two local universities and were selected on a voluntarily basis using purposive sampling (Auerbach & Silverstein, 2003; Barbour, 2007; Mertens, 2010). Sampling ensured that the students were studying courses related to Malay culture but in different domain areas. For example certain students in the focus groups were taking History, while others took Cooking, or National Culture and Heritage, Drama and Theatre, Batik Textile, Creative Movement, Malay Drum, Management, Action Research in Education, or Wood Craft. The researcher investigated the students’ current activities in using mobile phones for learning. The students used their own mobile phones during this research. A total number of 126 students participated in the focus groups. The semi-structured questions for discussions put to these focus groups were:


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a.

What has been your experience in using mobile phones for learning in your studies? b. What benefits can mLearning bring to your study? c. What are the issues and challenges in using mLearning for your study? d. What mLearning tools and applications do you need for your study? e. What are the attributes of local cultural design suitable for mLearning interfaces in your study? f. Are you ready to use mLearning in your studies, and why? g. What have you achieved in your study using mLearning? The researcher’s approach to analysing the data was through thematic analysis as it is a practical and flexible method to search for themes or patterns from the data. Thematic analysis is a fairly clear-cut structure of qualitative analysis, which does not occupy the same in-depth theoretical and technical understandings that Discourse Analysis or Content Analysis do (Braun & Clarke, 2006). In this research, the focus groups’ responses were audio recorded. The audio then was transcribed into Malay language (Bahasa Melayu). Next, the Malay language transcription was translated into English. The researcher then listened back to the recordings several times and identified several potential themes after having been familiarised with the audio and text. Before the themes were developed, the text need to be coded. According to Saldaña (2009) there are two coding methods, which involve the first cycle followed by second cycle. The combination of two or more coding cycles form the Eclectic Coding to support the analysis. For this research, in the first cycle the researcher chose Initial Coding, Simultaneous Coding and Holistic Coding (Saldaña 2009). During the second cycle Pattern Coding was selected and applied. Pattern Codes are descriptive or inferential codes, ones that identify an emergent theme. Miles and Huberman (1994, as cited in Saldaña 2009, p. 152) explain that Pattern Coding is appropriate for development of major themes from the data. Auerbach and Silverstein (2003) emphasize that the coding steps are non-linear processes and can iterate in reverse order, with adjustments to the coding and themes as the development of themes continues. In fact, the choice of themes is not reliant on quantifiable measures. Next, the themes were rationalised again to ensure the interpretation of the data is consistent with the thematical framework (Braun & Clarke, 2006). The researcher managed, stored and organised the data using NVivo software.

3. Findings Table 2 is a summary of themes of students’ perspectives on mLearning generated from an analysis of the focus group discussions.


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Table 2. Summary of themes of student’s perspectives on mLearning Themes 1.

Benefits (from existing experience)

2.

Challenges

3.

Costs

4.

Perceived Benefits (in facilitating learning)

5.

Reflection on learning outcomes after mLearning experience

Sub themes Accessibility Multiple functionalities Tool for sharing and discussing Saves student’s time Portability Tool for recall Technical hardware, software, and wireless issues Underutilisation of mLearning Lack of local cultural content Ignorance towards own culture Inability to imagine mLearning Need of training to upgrade mobile literacy skills High smart phone purchase cost Travel cost when collecting field data Web and application tools Local content using local design motifs and colours Video and storytelling animation Educational interactive games and quizes Sustainability of local culture through revitalisation of traditional concepts with new ideas Helped in assignment Development of new skills Limitations of mobile phone during field work

3.1. MLEARNING BENEFITS (FROM EXISTING EXPERIENCE) MLearning functions have helped students when doing tasks related to their projects or assignments. These are the benefits of mobile phones which assisted students: Accessibility Accessibility of the phones means easy access anywhere, including the ability to find information. E.g.: “It facilitates my finding of information on a local traditional house for my assignment.” Multiple functionalities Mobile phones have multiple functionalities such as recording video or voice and taking photos. E.g.: “I used my mobile phone to record an interview with the museum curator to learn about the Malay traditional palace.” Tool for sharing and discussion Mobile phones can be used to share information and to discuss the topic about the subject. E.g.: “I can receive through short message service (SMS) recipes for my cooking class on how to make traditional layer cakes.” Saves student’s time Students can save on travel time as they don’t have to go to different locations. E.g.: “It saves time to go to the library.” Portability


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The affordance of the small size of mobiles makes them much easier for students to carry around. E.g.: “The mobile phone is much smaller and portable than a laptop.” Tool for recall The mobile phone is useful to refer back to notes, or audio or video recordings. E.g.: “My reference is inside my mobile phone, which is the Quran and its translation. I can refer back to the information from my mobile phone.” 3.2. MLEARNING CHALLENGES Challenges are barriers that will slow down the progress of mLearning in Malaysia. This was the feedback received from the focus groups: Technical hardware, software and wireless issues Technical problems consist of hardware, software and wireless issues. E.g.: “The battery may be easily used up. Quality of the pictures may vary, depending on the mobile phone model. The quality of wireless connection in college also may vary.” Underutilisation of mLearning The mobile phone is still new for learning. Students do not know the capabilities of mobile phone in helping them to learn. Students spend most time playing games or music besides calling or texting friends using their mobile phones without realizing its capability for mLearning. E.g.: “I really don’t know. It is not really for learning for me but to play games.” Lack of local cultural content Local cultural content is scarce for students to refer to when doing their assignments. Most content available on the internet may not be verifiable and therefore may be unsuitable as a reliable reference. E.g.: “Our assignment is about long houses in Sarawak. It is very difficult to find information on them on mobile phones. The internet and even Wikipedia sources are incomplete.” Ignorance towards own culture Some students cannot relate to local culture in their own life. For them, their own local culture is irrelevant and out-of-date. E.g.: “Why I should know all this, since I do not live in such era?” Inability to imagine mLearning There are still students who are unable to imagine using mobile phones for learning. E.g.: “I cannot imagine how to use it. I still use books and pencils. I prefer using traditional learning methods like reading books rather than using technology.” Training to upgrade mobile literacy skills Students are not all mobile literate or capable enough in using mobile phones for learning because they can not use all the functionalities. Training may help them to use mobile phones more effectively for learning. E.g.: “Certain people may not be too advanced or mobile literate. Perhaps the teacher can teach the students first.”


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3.3. MLEARNING COSTS Cost is one of the barriers to students’ adopting mLearning. Students mentioned that the price of the mobile phones, especially smart phones, can be very expensive for most students. Students also need to consider other costs of learning, such as the traveling cost incurred when undertaking project assignment activities. E.g.: “I live at the university with only the support from the government education loan. If the loan money is finished, I cannot afford any more expenses.” 3.4. MLEARNING PERCEIVED BENEFITS (IN FACILITATING LEARNING) Perceived benefits using local cultural content illuminate what are amongst the best potential platforms to facilitate learning of mobile local cultural content: Web and application tools Mobile sites or mobile software applications on local culture can help students in the process of learning. E.g.: “If there is a mobile site on local culture and heritage I can introduce it to my friends for them to learn about the arts in Malaysia.” Local content using local design motifs and colours Content using local design motifs and colours that suits the local community preference. E.g.: “Design must be related to local nature, such as local flora and fauna. The colours can be either chocolate or green, which relates to the local flora and fauna.” Video and storytelling animation Students are more attracted to visuals, such as video stories, compared to reading books themselves. E.g.: “The history of Malay warriors, like Hang Tuah, requires us to read a very thick book with long texts. If we can adapt it into animation or games, the information and story will be much easier to retrieve and learn. Students can easily understand from visuals rather than reading.” Educational Interactive Games and Quizzes Students also prefer games and quizzes when doing their learning activities. E.g.: “If we sketch songket the traditional way, we are prone to mistakes and in such case we would not get good marks. If there is a game where we can sketch freely and easily correct any mistakes, it will help us score better marks.” Sustainability of local culture through revitalisation of traditional concepts Blending old and new ideas in local cultural content may hopefully preserve and revitalize it and lead to sustainability. E.g.: “In Malay architecture, by blending the old with the new ideas, we can have a modern building with a traditional interior decoration which will contribute to preserving and revitalising the local culture.”


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3.5. REFLECTION ON LEARNING OUTCOMES AFTER THE MLEARNING EXPERIENCE It is important to assess whether students learn better through mLearning than through conventional learning, which leads us to reflect on the learning outcomes after the mLearning experience. These were amongst the students’ responses after they had used mobile phones in their learning activities: Helps in assignments In this research students have transformed from learning passively inside classrooms to a more active learning process using mobile phones, such as taking suitable photos and recording audio-visual/video for completing their assignments. E.g.: “I can take photos and provide it as an appendix in my report.” Development of new skills mLearning has developed new awareness and new skills for them such as interviewing people. E.g.: “I can record the voice of the museum curator when I interview him regarding old Malay palaces.” Limitation of the mobile phone during field work There were hardware, software and wireless limitations such as memory size, battery life problems and wireless accessibility during their projects. E.g.: “Our mobile phones cannot sustain more than 15 minutes of recording, depending on the memory size.”

4. Discussions and Conclusion This research informs us that mLearning is a new field and an exciting tool for local cultural studies. MLearning in Malaysia can potentially facilitate students to learn about their culture better with local cultural content, tools and applications. Overall, local students are keen and excited to embrace the latest technology development. It is therefore proposed that the government, institutions of higher learning, teachers and mobile content developers need to understand the potential contribution of mLearning to the study of local culture. 4.1. MOBILE TECHNOLOGY As mentioned earlier, Kukulska-Hulme (2008) has criticised developers for ignoring or overlooking usability factors in mLearning. In this research, students were found to be concerned about accessibility and ease of use, and these issues relate back to the affordance of the devices, and usability of devices and mLearning applications. Students found that the mobile phones are easy to use anywhere, especially to find information, take photos, and record audio and video. Mobile tools can further help to develop content in the form of video storytelling. Specific applications and content related to cultural studies can also be developed, like cultural games and quizzes. Due to the high cost of smart phones, applications and services, a new strategy needs to be initiated so that students can benefit and have affordable mobile phones for learning. The quality of wireless service in colleges and other locations for students’ activities


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should be improved to enable the students to have uninterrupted access to mobile content. 4.2. MLEARNING ACTIVITIES Students can become content generators via student-centred activities (Dyson, Litchfield, & Raban, 2010). MLearning has transformed existing traditional learning practices, like manually taking notes, to a more proactive approach whereby students use mobile phones to record their own ideas. The majority of students from the focus groups gave positive feedback on the usage of mobile phones for their assignments and will use them again in the future for learning. 4.3. MALAY CULTURAL CONTENT Reinecke and Bernstein (2011) proved in their study that local culturally designed interfaces have higher efficiency, increased user performance and had better user experience than interfaces which were not adapted to cultural preferences. The local cultural content is unique in Malaysia as it has been influenced by local flora and fauna and Islamic values (Jamal, 1992). Ariffin and Dyson (2011) indicated that Malay students preferred local motifs and Malay local cultural symbols in their learning, and that these could motivate students to learn. Malay local culturally designed interfaces can potentially contribute to improve students’ efficiency and performance in learning. In order to facilitate mLearning of local culture amongst Malaysian students, the following guidelines are recommended: Firstly, academics need to check whether their students are equipped with mobile phones and applications (Hussin, 2011). In the absence of institutional support for mobile phones to be loaned to students, it is recommended that academics apply the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) approach (Enterasys, 2012; Puente, 2012). This is a win-win situation as the institutions do not have to provide phones while students get to use their own devices to complete their assignments. Using student owned phones worked well in our study. Secondly, it is desirable that mLearning contributes to the study of local culture by using local content comprising local design principles and values (Reinecke & Bernstein, 2011). For example: the use of local nature, flora and fauna as design motifs and also the Islamic values is desirable (Jamal, 1992). Furthermore, students will be more motivated in their learning if it is local to them (Ariffin & Dyson, 2011): learning will be fun and engaging through the use of local designs and elements from the local culture. Finally, awareness campaigns to promote mLearning for local cultural studies at institutions of higher learning, as recommended by Ariffin, HoskinsMcKenzie and Dyson (2012), need to be initiated. This can be instigated by the educators through learning activities which embed the local cultural elements into their own lesson objectives. Students in public universities in Malaysia are now more open to the exponential development of new mobile technologies. MLearning sparks the hope of learning in a revolutionary way. It suits the students’ requirements for having appropriate local culture content at their fingertips. If mLearning for the study of local culture is to be


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successful, students must at least have their own mobile phones and adequate literacy to undertake carefully designed activities for learning. Essentially, participation from all parties, including the government, educators, content developers and students are critical for the future development of mLearning. Acknowledgements The author would like to thank all the students who participated in the focus groups and also the Ministry of Higher Learning Malaysia for sponsoring his study.

References Ariffin, S. A., Dyson, L. E., & Hoskins-McKenzie, D. (2012). Content is King: Malaysian Industry Experts’ Point of View on Local Content for Mobile Phones. Journal of Mobile Technologies, Knowledge & Society, 2012 (2012), 1-9. Ariffin, S. A., & Dyson, L. E. (2011). Students’ perspectives on local content: A preliminary study towards evaluating the usefulness of Malay mobile cultural content. mLearn 2011, pp. 464-471. Auerbach, C. F., & Silverstein, L. B. (2003). Qualitative Data: An introduction to coding and analysis. New York: University Press. Barbour, R. (2007). Doing focus group. London: SAGE Publications. Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77-101. Dyson, L. E., Litchfield, A., & Raban, R. (2010). Exploring theories of learning and teaching using mobile technologies: Comparisons of traditional learning, elearning and mlearning. mLearn 2010, 354-357 Economic Planning Unit (2009). Household income and poverty. Retrieved March 19, 2012, from http://www.epu.gov.my/household-income-poverty. Enterasys (2012). Classrooms at risk: Solving the challenge of student-owned devices. Retrieved April 16, 2012, from http://www.enterasys.com/company/literature/MyWi-sb.pdf. Hancock, D. R., & Algozzine, B. (2006). Doing case study research: A practical guide for beginning research. New York and London: Teachers College Press, 1-106. Hussin, S. (2011). Mobile learning readiness among Malaysian students at higher learning institutes. APAC MLearning 2011, 1-11. Kukulska-Hulme, A. (2008). Human factors and innovation with mobile devices. In T. Hansson (Ed.), Handbook of Research on digital information technologies: innovations, methods and ethical issues (pp. 392-403), Hershey: IGI Global. Nielsen, J., & Loranger, H. (2006). Prioritzing web usability. Berkeley, USA: New Riders. Jamal, S. A. (1992). Rupa dan jiwa. Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa Pustaka. Lim, K. Y. (2005). Minister speech. The telemanagement forum’s Asean regional summit. Retrieved June 7, 2011, from http://www.tmforum.org/WhyAttend/2719/home.html. Mertens, D. M. (2010). Research and evaluation in education and psychology, (3rd ed.). Oaks California, USA: Sage Publications Inc. Mutula, S. (2008). Local content development projects in Africa. SA Journal Libs and Info Science, 74(2), 105-115.


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Myers, M. D. (1997). Qualitative research in information systems, IS World Net. Retrieved Jan 20, 2012, from http://www.misq.org/discovery/MISQD_isworld/. Puente, K. (2012). High School Pupils Bring Their Own Devices. District Administration, 48(2), 3. Reinecke, K., & Bernstein, A. (2011). Improving performance, perceived usability, and aesthetics with culturally adaptive user interfaces. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction, 18(2), 8-29. Salda単a, J. (2009). The coding manual for qualitative researchers, London: Sage Publications Limited. Yatim, R. (2010). Telcos should have more cultural content: Rais. Retrieved August 15, 2010, from http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2010/1/19/nation/20100119201644&sec=nation.


M. Strano, H. Hrachovec, F. Sudweeks and C. Ess (eds). Proceedings Cultural Attitudes Towards Technology and Communication 2012, Murdoch University, Australia, 146-162.

A LONGITUDINAL STUDY ON THE EFFECT OF HYPERMEDIA ON LEARNING DIMENSIONS, CULTURE AND TEACHING EVALUATION CATHERINE HUI MIN LEE, FAY SUDWEEKS School of Information Technology, Murdoch University, Australia AND YUK WING CHENG Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Curtin University of Technology, Australia

Abstract. Earlier studies have found the effectiveness of hypermedia systems as learning tools heavily depend on their compatibility with the cognitive processes by which students perceive, understand and learn from complex information sources. Hence, a learner’s cognitive style plays a significant role in determining how much is learned from a hypermedia learning system. A longitudinal study of Australian and Malaysian students was conducted over two semesters in 2008. Five types of predictor variables were investigated with cognitive style: (i) learning dimensions (nonlinear learning, learner control, multiple tools); (ii) culture dimensions (power distance, uncertainty avoidance, individualism/ collectivism, masculinity/femininity, long/short term orientation); (iii) evaluation of units; (iv) student demographics; and (v) country in which students studied. This study uses both multiple linear regression and linear mixed effects to model the relationships among the variables. The results from this study support the findings of a cross-sectional study conducted by Lee et al. (2010); in particular, the predictor variables are significant to determine students’ cognitive style.

1. Introduction The adoption of hypermedia technologies as tools in supporting teaching and learning has become widespread in the education environment as it provides learners and educators with convenient access to information that had been traditionally imparted through face-to-face contact. Online instruction is typically delivered via dedicated hypermedia (web-based hypertext) systems that are used to store and manage a variety of relevant course information, such as student assignments, lecture notes, tutorial materials and announcements. Online instruction as a delivery paradigm is viewed as either an alternative or a complement to traditional classroom instruction, particularly for students who are geographically and temporally dispersed or when physical classroom space may be limited. It is also recognized as a convenient delivery method for learners by extensively reducing the time for them to travel to campus. Hypermedia literature extends across a number of different but related fields; for example,


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educational technology, cognitive psychology, computer science, and geography (Eveland & Dunwoody, 1999). Hence, this research incorporates multiple factors and is cross-disciplinary. This paper attempts to portray multiple factors that determine students’ cognitive style (CS) and presents the connections in a research model. The relationship is further tested using advanced statistical models such as multiple linear regression and linear mixed effect. The purpose of this research is to attain greater comprehension of the cognitive mechanisms underpinning hypermedia learning. Earlier research (Lee, Cheng, Rai & Depickere, 2005; Lee, Sudweeks, Cheng & Tang, 2010) revealed that learning dimensions (characteristics and learning patterns) such as nonlinear learning, learner control and multiple tools, have significant effects on students’ cognitive style in a hypermedia learning system. In addition, rapid advancements in technologies have resulted in increasing numbers of people of different cultures working together and communicating more. Understanding cultural differences is essential in order to comprehend that what works in one location may not work elsewhere. Thus, culture may be viewed as an important source of an individual’s values, expectations and needs (Markus & Kitayama, 1991). On the other hand, evaluation in education has long been used to determine the worth or value of the continuation of a course. Feedback from evaluations provides quality control over the design and delivery of teaching and learning activities (Newby, 1992). Unit evaluation is important as it provides an overall picture of teaching performance.

2. Literature Review 2.1. HYPERMEDIA SYSTEMS The features of hypermedia systems have great appeal to educators. An attribute of hypermedia is that it parallels the way the human brain and memory work. Hypermedia imitates how the human mind gathers knowledge by association, jumping from one concept to another in a complex web of connections. A hypermedia-based learning system is a form of web-based educational system. It is deemed a valuable educational tool because it presents information in multiple modes; it provides learners with easy and nonlinear access to large amounts of information. In addition, it provides students with greater autonomy and responsibility in their quest for learning (Gracia & Gracia, 2005; Konradt, 2004). Several studies (Gracia & Gracia, 2005; Greene, 2007) have indicated that students play a more active role in the educational process with the use of hypermedia learning systems. It is suggested that the hypermedia learning system’s rich content encourages learning in a task-driven process, where learners are motivated to explore alternative navigational paths through domain knowledge and different resources, and subsequently promotes effective learning as it allows students to construct their own learning goals and plans. Furthermore, hypermedia-based learning systems demonstrate the capability of facilitating multiple forms of communication such as chat rooms, forums, email, and video conferencing. Hypermedia tangibly stimulates learners to filter, link and search for new or existing information. These features have made hypermedia an ideal tool for supporting multilineal thinking and facilitating self-directed learning (Schwen, Goodrum & Dorsey, 1993). This has been deemed a pragmatic way to empower learners in meeting today’s educational needs, particularly in offering an innovative learning and teaching


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instructional delivery system that connects learners with educational resources. Nevertheless, there are potential risks that can impede learning based on hypermedia system. First, there is spatial disorientation, also known as the ‘‘lost in hyperspace” phenomenon. This disorientation occurs due to a high degree of learner control in a nonlinear space and can be disastrous, given the lack of appropriate instructional support, as students may find it difficult to get ‘a good grasp’ of the learning material in a hypermedia system. Second, cognitive load will impede learning if not carefully managed. This overload can occur due to constantly assimilating and referring to previous hyperlinks while trying to understand the next link (Chandler, 2009; Chen & Dwyer, 2003). 2.2. COGNITIVE STYLES The effectiveness of hypermedia systems as learning tools depends to a large extent on their compatibility with the students’ cognitive style; in other words, the psychological processes by which students perceive, understand and learn from complex information sources. Witkin, Moore, Goodenough & Cox’s (1977) concept of cognitive style, specifically field dependence-independence (FDI), is the central framework used in this research to study the cognitive styles of individual learners and their characteristics when interacting in hypermedia systems. The reason for choosing the FDI concept is that it has a profound influence on learning performance in a nonlinear hypermedia environment, where the ability to structure and to restructure data is of central importance (Chen & Macredie, 2002; Chen, 2010; Lee & Boling, 2008; Lee et al. 2005; Lee et al. 2010; Mampadi, Chen, Ghinea & Chen, 2011; Thomas & McKay, 2010). Specifically, FDI implicitly conditions the development of operative schemata as well as learners’ overall cognitive structuring (Robertson, 1990; Fitzgerald & Semrau, 1998). FDI differentiates the tendency of an individual to structure and analyze incoming information. According to Witkin, the concept of FDI has important implications for cognitive and interpersonal behaviors. While most learners fall on a continuum between these two cognitive processing approaches, each style is defined by certain characteristics. Specifically, field independent people tend to be more autonomous in relation to the development of cognitive restructuring skills and less autonomous in relation to the development of interpersonal skills. Conversely, field dependent people tend to be more autonomous in the development of interpersonal skills and less autonomous in the development of cognitive restructuring skills. Field-dependent learners might adopt a global strategy and demand information with more explicit cues whereas fieldindependent learners tend to employ an analytical approach (Chen & Macredie, 2002; Antonietti, Ignazi & Perego, 2000). In other words, field dependent learners are likely to process information passively by operating an external reference, as opposed to the “inner directedness” of field-independent learners who might prefer to actively impose their own structure (Ford, Wilson, Foster, Ellis & Spink, 2002). As a result, compared to field-independent learners, field dependent individuals are more likely to have greater difficulty when required to provide organization as an aid to learning, as is required in a nonlinear environment. Hence, information systems should be designed to accommodate the different preferences of learners with different cognitive styles (Chen, Czerwinski, & Macredie, 2000; Leader & Klein, 1996).


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2.3. LEARNING DIMENSIONS According to Chen & Macredie (2002), an individual’s cognitive style in a hypermediabased learning environment can be determined according to three main categories of learning dimensions: (i) nonlinear; (ii) learner control; and (iii) multiple tools. (i) Nonlinear Individuals who prefer a linear learning approach are considered field dependent. They generally demonstrate greater social orientation, which means they enjoy working in groups. Furthermore, they are more likely to face difficulties in unstructured environments or when they have to restructure new information and forge links with prior knowledge. In other words, they prefer guided navigation or a linear format representation and tend to demonstrate more syllabus-bound characteristics. These individuals fear failure but focus on a minimum pass as they often show little interest in the course content. They also demonstrate heavy reliance on memory and are strongly dependent on external sources, such as their tutors who dictate the information to be learnt. These characteristics are often due to their lack of understanding of the purpose and objectives of the course. In contrast, individuals who adopt a non-linear learning approach are categorised as field independent individuals. They are characterised as individuals who enjoy working alone and prefer free navigation or the use of a discovery approach to explore the topic of interest as well as to generate ideas. They tend to seek meaning in order to understand the course content. In addition, they attempt to relate ideas between courses and make use of evidence to draw conclusions. (ii) Learner Control Field dependent individuals perform better with a program control version of computerbased instruction as they are relatively passive and less capable of learning independently (i.e. externally directed). These individuals can be characterised as using less control features in hypermedia programs. On the other hand, field independent individuals use greater control features in hypermedia programs as they possess a higher ability to engage in independent learning with analytical thought (i.e. internally directed) and perform better in a learner-control version of computer-based instruction (Yoon, 1994; Chen & Macredie, 2002). Hence, field independent individuals are likely to perform significantly better and learn more effectively than field dependent individuals in a hypermedia-based learning environment. (iii) Multiple Tools A hypermedia environment is usually designed with nonlinear multidimensional paths traversing the subject matter to provide multiple perspectives of the content to guide students’ acquisition of the subject matter. Generally, individual learners are able to control their own paths through complex subject matter independently of the guidance provided by the course tutor. However, learners can quickly and easily get lost in cyberspace given the links and multiple tools available. In such a situation, field dependent individuals tend to desire greater navigation support as they are relatively passive whereas field independent individuals tend to be more analytical when confronted with a problem. According to Chou (2001), field dependent individuals are better at recalling social information, such as conversations and relationships,


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approaching a problem in a more global way and perceiving the total picture in a situation. Conversely, field independent individuals are better with numbers, science and problem solving tasks as they apply an analytical approach (Chou, 2001). 2.4. CULTURE DIMENSIONS There is a need to ensure flexibility and access to learners of diverse cultural background because culture and learning are interwoven and inseparable (Downey, Wentling, Wentling & Wadsworth, 2005). Moreover, hypermedia is a relatively new medium of learning delivery; the relationship between users’ cultural backgrounds and cognitive style in hypermedia systems is not clear. As a result, the educator’s tasks have become more complex since individuals who are fostered by different cultures may have different cognitive styles. Although some research has been conducted in relation to different aspects of culture and technology (Downey, et al. 2005; Gaspy, Dard & Legorreta, 2008; Gevorgyan & Porter, 2008) very little is known about the ramifications of cultural influences on students’ cognitive style in educational hypermedia learning systems. This calls for further research in incorporating culture dimensions as one of the factors to be examined in this study. It is important to understand different cultural backgrounds, characteristics and learning patterns as cultural differences may play an important role in defining, conceptualizing, inventing, adapting and distributing teaching and learning materials through hypermedia learning systems. There are several well-known researchers who have contributed to the field of culture, such as Edward Hall, Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck, Trompenaars and HampdenTurner, Schwartz, and Geert Hofstede (Gaspy, et al., 2008; Zakour, 2003). However, there have been mixed reviews of Hofstede’s research (e.g. McSweeney, 2002; Ess & Sudweeks, 2006). Nevertheless, Hofstede’s cultural framework is adapted as a cultural theoretical framework in this study based on the following grounds: (i)

Hofstede’s work still remains the most influential in cultural classification due to the research-based validation and the widespread acceptance by research scholars (Downey, et al., 2005; Gaspy, et al., 2008; Reisinger & Crotts, 2010; Zakour, 2003). (ii) Hofstede’s cultural theory has consistently proven to help explain the complexities of the impact national culture has on various areas of IT research (Gaspy, et al. 2008; Gevorgyan & Porter, 2008). (iii) Hofstede’s theory has many similarities with the cultural dimensions of Schwartz (1994) and Trompenaars & Hampden-Turner (1998); that is, a belief that culture consists of values and preferred behaviour related to the values (Pors, 2007; Zakour, 2003). (iv) Hofstede’s cultural framework has not yet been applied in explaining to what extent national culture influences students’ CS in hypermedia system. Hofstede (2001, p. 9) defined culture as “the collective programming of the mind”. He further explains that, “culture in this sense includes values; systems of values are a core element of culture” (p. 10). Hofstede (1980) identified cultures at three different levels: individual, collective, and universal. The individual level represents an individual’s personality that is unique. However, both collective and universal mental programs are shared with others. The collective level represents a group’s culture (based on specific values); the universal level is the programming necessary to survive and


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therefore shared by all human beings. Hofstede’s five cultural dimensions are summarised in Table 1. An earlier study conducted by Lee et al. (2010) revealed multiple factors such as unit evaluation, learning dimensions and culture dimensions are interrelated and these factors have varying degrees of significance on the effect of CS. Hence, it is suggested the quality of education can be enriched in the development of hypermedia system when these factors are considered. Table 1. Hofstede’s Dimensions of Culture Cultural Dimension Power Distance

Definition The extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organizations within a country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally. Uncertainty The extent to which the members of a culture feel threatened Avoidance by ambiguous or unknown situations. Individualism/ Individualism refers to societies in which individuals are Collectivism expected to look after themselves and their immediate family; collectivism refers to societies in which individuals integrate into strong, cohesive in-groups. Masculinity/ A society is referred to as masculine when emotional gender Femininity roles are clearly distinct and feminine when emotional gender roles overlap. Long-term/ Long-term orientation refers to the fostering of virtues short-term oriented toward future rewards; short-term orientation refers orientation to the fostering of virtues related to the past and present. (Source: Hofstede and Hofstede, 2005) 2.5. UNIT EVALUATION The literature on teaching evaluation is abundant and well researched, particularly on ways that teachers can present content and skills to enhance the opportunities for students to learn. It is equally filled with suggestions of what not to do in the classroom. However, there is no consensus on which teaching methods match best to which skills and/or content being taught. Students often have little expertise in knowing if the method selected by an individual instructor was the best teaching method, or just “a method”, or simply the method with which the teacher was most comfortable. The use of students’ ratings for evaluating teacher effectiveness is the most researched issue in higher education (Ory, 2001). The most accepted criterion for measuring good teaching is the amount of student learning that occurs. There are consistently high correlations between students’ ratings of the “amount learned” in the course and their overall ratings of the teacher and the course. Those who learned more gave their teachers higher ratings (Cohen, 1981; Marsh & Overall, 1980; Theall and Franklin, 2001). In other words, it is a process that detects any differences between present achievement, intended goals and, if necessary, finding solutions to narrow down the difference. There have only been a few studies using student evaluations to predict student cognitive style. For instance, Prosser and Trigwell (1990) showed that Australian university students taught by highly rated teachers tended to approach their learning


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through the use of deep rather than surface study strategies. Similar findings were found by Diseth (2007) who suggested that students’ evaluation and perception of the learning environment are important predictors of students’ approaches to learning as they affect examination performance. Miller (2007) explored the effect of cognitive style and expected evaluation on creativity with the assumption that individuals classified as field independent are more likely to have higher creativity scores, which was partially supported. On the other hand, expectations of evaluation as well as interactions between evaluation condition and cognitive style had no significant effect. Findings from Kember, Jenkins, & Ng (2004) suggest that students faced with a teaching style that is incompatible with their conception of learning are likely to give poor ratings in student evaluations.

3. Hypotheses This study is an extension of previous research by Lee et al. (2005) and Lee et al. (2010). The results derived from Lee et al.’s research may not apply in other countries and therefore must be treated with caution as cognitive styles may vary with different cultures. Numerous studies (Chen, 2010; Diseth, 2007; Miller, 2007) have shown consistently high correlations between students’ ratings of the amount learned in the course and their overall ratings of the teacher and the course. Therefore, factors such as culture and unit evaluation were taken into consideration for the purpose of this study. H1: H2: H3: H4:

Students’ cognitive style changes over time in hypermedia systems. Students’ learning dimensions, culture dimensions or unit evaluation change over time in hypermedia systems. Students’ cognitive style varies with changes in their learning dimensions, culture dimensions or unit evaluation in hypermedia systems. Each student’s cognitive style varies with changes in their learning dimensions, culture dimensions or unit evaluation in hypermedia systems.

4. Methodology A review of the multiple factors that influence students’ cognitive style identified the interrelationships and connections among the factors. Based on the literature, Figure 1 is a representation of the research model for this study.


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Figure 1.Relationships between cognitive style, learning dimensions, culture dimensions and unit evaluation. 4.1. PARTICIPANTS This longitudinal study was conducted over two semesters in 2008. In semester 1, 40 Australian and 41 Malaysian students participated in the first survey. In semester 2, 47 Australian and 30 Malaysian students participated in the second survey. The Australian students were enrolled in four different units in the School of Information Technology, Murdoch University, Australia, and were invited to participate in the study. Of the four units, two were first-year units (ICT105 Introduction to Information Technology and ICT108 Introduction to Multimedia and the Internet), one was a second-year unit (ICT231 Systems Analysis and Design), and one was a Masters level unit in which students in their fourth year (Honours) could also enrol (ICT650 Information Technology Research Methodologies). Murdoch University is a multicultural institution and the cohorts in each unit comprised approximately 50% Australian born students with the other 50% a cultural mix of international students. The Malaysian students were enrolled in Software Technology 151 and Engineering Programming 100 units offered by the school of Engineering at Curtin Sarawak, Malaysia, and were also invited to participate. Both units are first-year units within the Bachelor of Technology (Computer Science) and Bachelor of Engineering programs. Students in both programs consist mostly of Malaysians, with a small number of international students. For entry into both programs, students would have completed the Foundation Studies programs in Engineering and Science, delivered by Curtin University, or other matriculation studies such as General Certificate of Education (GCE) Advance Levels from other institutions. 4.2. REPEATED MEASUREMENT DESIGN The data collected from repeated measures design of each subject is called longitudinal data. A repeated measures design refers to studies in which the same measures are collected multiple times for each subject but under different conditions; for instance, repeated measures are collected in a longitudinal study in which change over time is


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assessed. This survey method is ideal when only a few participants are available. The repeated measures design can reduce the variance of estimates of treatment-effect; that is, allowing statistical inferences to be made with fewer students. It also allows the investigation of the changes in studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; behaviours or responses over time. Longitudinal data are highly valued in all areas of social science research. In education research, in particular, the rapidly growing availability of data that tracks student achievement over time has made longitudinal data analysis increasingly prominent (Lockwood and McCaffrey, 2007). The reason for this is that, unlike crosssectional studies, longitudinal studies track the same people, and therefore the differences observed in those people are less likely to be the result of cultural differences across generations. The changes observed in longitudinal studies, therefore, are more accurate. Because longitudinal studies are observational, in the sense that they observe the state of the world without manipulating it, it has been argued that they may have less power to detect causal relationships than do experiments (AwĂŠ & Bauman, 2010). But because of repeated observations at the individual level, they have more power than cross-sectional observational studies (Shepard et al., 2003). 4.3. SURVEY The survey used in this study was based on survey design used in earlier research (Lee et al. 2010). Participants were asked to respond to all questions on a Likert scale of 1 to 5. There were a number of questions for each variable (Table 2) and the responses were classified as high (>3) or low (<3). A cluster sampling approach was chosen to accelerate the sample collection as well as to ensure that the required sample size for both groups was met, given the project time constraints. Table 2. Number of survey questions for each variable. No. of questions 4 7 7 9 3 3 3 3 3 6 18

Variable Cognitive style Nonlinear Learner control Multiple tools Power distance Individualism/collectivism Masculine/feminine Uncertainty avoidance Short/long term orientation Evaluation of units Demographics

Variable Code CS NL LC MT PD IC MF UA TO EU

4.4. STATISTICAL METHODS A paired t-test was used to compare the mean of two groups. This study uses both multiple linear regression (MLR) and linear mixed effects models (LME) to model the relationships among CS and four groups of variables: learning styles, culture dimensions, unit evaluation, and time. These variables are assigned in both models as


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presented in Table 3. Students’ t-tests are used to test the significant of all estimated parameters, e.g. slope and intercept, in all MLR and LME. Table 3.Variable assignment in MLR and LME models MRL Model Variables response variable of student predicted variable of student covariate of student Malaysia Australia ) (

LME Model Variables response variable of student at year predicted variable of student at year covariate of student Malaysia Australia ) (

In the MLR model, is the CS. can be one of the five culture dimensions, one of the three learning styles, the unit evaluation, or the time the survey was conducted. The process errors are assumed normally independently distributed. In the LME model, is the CS. can be one of the five culture dimensions, one of the three learning styles, the unit evaluation, or the time the survey was conducted. The process errors are assumed normally independently distributed. The estimated individual intercept and slope of each student is assessed by a bivariate normal distribution. There is no serial correlation of each measured CS with time. Both Akaike’s Information Criterion (AIC) and Bayesian Information Criterion (BIC) (Akaike, 1974; Schwarz, 1978) were used to select the best LME model. The best sub-model can be determined when all the estimated coefficients are significant (P<0.05) with the minimum information value from all above information criteria. In addition, a comparison of the fitting results of both LME and MLR models with the information criteria is essential to determine the best model in representing the data.

5. Results The results of the first survey (Semester 1) reveal that there is a significant difference (P=0.043) between the means score of Australian and Malaysian students’ CS (2.70 and 2.93 respectively). The results of the second survey (Semester 2) are similar, with a significant difference (P=0.02) between the means score of Australian and Malaysian students’ CS (2.56 and 2.87 respectively). Based on this observation pattern, it is shown that Malaysian students tend to be FD whereas Australian students tend to be FI. There is no significant difference in Malaysian students’ CS (P=0.38) and Australian students’ CS (P=0.43) between the two surveys. This result supports that a cognitive style is a characteristic that does not change but may vary over time (Biggs & Moore, 1993; Goldstein & Blackman, 1978; Peterson et al, 2009). In other words, the finding does not support H1. The duration of the two semesters study showed no significant linear relationship (P>0.20) between CS and time. However, this study has detected small variation of individual students’ CS over time but with no overall significant (P=0.43). A possible reason of this variation is due to measurement errors. The findings based on the estimated LME revealed that response variables, such as learning dimensions (P> 0.20), culture dimensions (P >0.20) and unit evaluation (P>0.10), and the predictor variable (time) of each student are not significant. This indicates that the outcome does not support H2. Another test was carried out on


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combination of all variables (CS, learning dimensions, culture dimensions and unit evaluation) from first and second hypotheses and results revealed that all variables do not change over time. Nevertheless, it is possible to encounter measurement errors and process errors although the means of these variables do not change over time. Both MLR and LME models were used to investigate learning dimensions, culture dimensions and unit evaluation to determine direct linear relationships with CS. Comparing both models, MLR models presented a better fit of all students in a linear regression, which supported H3. On the other hand, LME models presented a better fit of individual students in linear regressions with two replicates in different times, which support H4. Of all the predictor variables fitted in both LME and MLR models, only the predictor variables EU, LC, PD and TO displayed significant slopes (P<0.05) and intercepts. However, the LME models outperformed the MLR models when modeling the relationship of the predictor variables based on both AIC and BIC information criteria (Table 3). Moreover, the outcomes of analyses based on the LME model have generated smaller residual standard errors (sigma values in Table 3) compared with the MLR model. Nevertheless, all estimated parameters, including both slope and intercepts of MLR and LME models, are highly significant (P<0.01). The estimated slope and intercepts of MLR are similar in values to the estimated of slope and intercept of LME model. Table 3: Summary of LME and MLR fits with CS as the response variable and EU, LC, PD and TO as the predictor variables. Predictor variable

EU

LC

PD

TO

Model (P-value of likelihood ratio test between LME and MLR results) LME (P=0.01) MLR

Intercept (st.error)

Slope (st.error)

SD of intercept

1.83 (0.40) 1.99 (0.31)

0.46 (0.16) 0.40 (0.14) 0.86 (0.03) 0.85 (0.03) 0.36 (0.16) 0.21 (0.14) 0.49 (0.23) 0.08 (0.17)

1.19

LME (P=0.003) MLR LME (P=0.02) MLR LME (P=0.009) MLR

1.76 (0.50) 2.24 (0.41) 1.50 (0.59) 2.60 (0.48)

Estimated SD of Correlation slope between random slopes and random intercepts 0.45

-1

0.13

1.52

1.64

0.47

0.66

-1

-0.986

AIC

BIC

Sigma

72.17

82.59

0.38

78.42

83.64

0.53

79.67

90.09

0.41

87.61

91.13

0.60

79.45

89.87

0.42

83.70

88.91

0.56

79.67

90.09

0.34

85.20

90.41

0.58


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5.1. THE EFFECT OF EU ON CS Figure 2 illustrates the plots of observed data and fitted results of the LME models on 22 students based on both surveys. The assigned response variable is CS and the predictor variable is EU. The estimated linear regression relationship indicates that students with no expectation of course materials (low EU score) are FI students (low CS score). Students with a high expectation of well prepared lectures are FD students (high CS score). The estimated correlation between the random effects of slope and intercept is -1. This indicates that the estimated individual student regression line with a smaller intercept will have a bigger slope. In other words, FD students are not likely to change in their expectations in EU, even though there is a random change in the course preparation from the first to the second semester. In contrast, FI students are likely to change in their expectations in EU when there is a random change in the course materials from the first semester to the second semester.

1.0

86

1.5

2.0

2.5

3.0

3.5

1.0

88

1.5

94

2.0

2.5

3.0

3.5

95 4

3

2

51

56

60

63

28

36

37

40

1

66

82

43

47

Cognitive Style

4

3

2

1

4

3

2

5

13

15

17

24

25

4

3

2

1 1.0

1.5

2.0

2.5

3.0

3.5

1.0

1.5

2.0

2.5

3.0

3.5

1.0

1.5

2.0

2.5

3.0

3.5

Unit Evaluation

Figure 2: Plots of the linear mixed effect models predicted results of 22 students in both Semester 1 and 2 surveys with response variable CS and predictor variable EU. 5.2. THE EFFECT OF LC ON CS The assigned response variable is CS and the predictor variable is LC. The estimated intercepts of the LME model are not significant (P>0.20). The best fitted model of LME illustrates a slope that only began from the origin. The estimated slope of the LME model is 0.86 (Table 3). In addition, it is similar to the estimated slope of the MLR model which is 0.85. Thus, it is apparent that the LME model resulted in a better fit compared with the MLR model. The coefficient of variation of random effects is 0.13/0.86=15%. A lower LC score relates to a lower CS score. This implies that students with a lower LC score are likely to be FI as they tend to have a higher ability to

1


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engage in independent learning with analytical thought. On the other hand, a higher LC score relates to a higher CS score. This implies that the students with a higher LC score are likely to be FD as they tend to be relatively passive and less capable of learning independently. Studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; LC is likely to change with time. This change will affect the variation of individual CS too. 5.3. THE EFFECT OF PD ON CS The assigned response variable is CS and the predictor variable is PD. The estimated slope and intercept from the LME model are highly significant (P<0.01). The estimated slope from the MLR model is not significant (P >0.05). When comparing the standard residual errors of both models, it is apparent that the LME model resulted in a better fit. Based on the fitted results from the LME model, students who prefer equal distribution of power (low PD score) are likely to be FI students. On the other hand, students who prefer unequal distribution of power (high PD score) are likely to be FD students. The estimated correlation between the random effects of the slope and the intercept is -1. This indicates that the estimated individual student regression line with a smaller intercept will have a bigger slope or a bigger change in CS. Therefore, FD students are not likely to change their view of power distance randomly with time, whereas FI students are likely to change. 5.4. THE EFFECT OF TO ON CS The assigned response variable is CS and the predictor variable is TO. The estimated linear regression relationship suggests that students with long-term orientation (low TO score) are FI students (low CS score). However, students with short-term orientation (high TO score) are FD students (high CS score). The estimated correlation between the random effects of the slope and intercept is -0.986. The estimated individual student regression line with a smaller intercept will have a bigger slope or a bigger change in CS. Therefore, FD students are unlikely to change their orientation randomly with time, whereas FI students are likely to change. 5.4. SUMMARY OF RESULTS The predictor variables of EU, LC, PD and TO are significant to determine studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; CS. These results correspond with the findings of the cross-sectional study conducted by Lee et al. (2010). This previous study had used tree-based regression to model the relationships of CS with EU, LC, NL, IC, PD and TO as well as determining their higher order interaction. The longitudinal study has provided further findings that facilitate educators to understand that variation of individual CS is affected by changes of EU, LC, PD and TO with time. Nevertheless, one of the limitations of this study is that it can only investigate one predictor variable with CS in the LME model. This limitation was caused by the data; that is, having only one repeated measure of 22 students. If the data contain more repeated measures, it would allow the LME model to investigate the correlation of the estimated random slopes and random intercept among the predictor variables (Cheng and Kuk, 2002). The use of the LME model with repeated measures data enables us to understand the variation of CS with time. This variation is a combination of measurement errors, sampling errors and random errors. It


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is distributed with a constant mean and unknown variation. This implies that the measurement of student CS should be conducted several times instead of just one time due to variation errors. However, the variation of CS can also be understood with the predictor variables, EU, LC, PD and TO.

6. Conclusions This study has undertaken rigorous advanced statistical analysis to identify the interdisciplinary connections between cognitive style, learning dimensions in hypermedia, culture dimensions, unit evaluation and time effect. A particularly important outcome from this study suggests that unit evaluation is the key variable in predicting students’ cognitive style. To some extent, as observed in this longitudinal study, learning dimensions and culture dimensions have an influence on students’ ability to structure a cognitive overview in a hypermedia learning system. These factors have strong connections with learning effectiveness and are essential when designing and developing effective hypermedia materials that match the style of teaching with students’ cognitive style. Typically, a unit evaluation is only conducted at the end of each semester for each unit and may not provide educators with the necessary information to modify and develop effective teaching and learning materials in a hypermedia learning environment. From the results of this study, it is suggested that educators should conduct an evaluation at the beginning and at the end of each unit. The pre- and postunit evaluations would provide information about students’ particular needs and preferences according to their various learning characteristics. The evaluations would also guide educators in providing teaching and learning materials in the hypermedia system that cater to different cognitive styles. Hence, effective learning, retention and retrieval of information can be attained through an adaptable hypermedia learning system.

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M. Strano, H. Hrachovec, F. Sudweeks and C. Ess (eds). Proceedings Cultural Attitudes Towards Technology and Communication 2012, Murdoch University, Australia, 163-173.

PROMOTING INTERCULTURAL COMPETENCE BY MEANS OF BLENDED LEARNING Application of Forum Exercises in Beginners German Language Class in Jordan

DESSISLAVA TODOROVA Dept. German as a Foreign Language Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich, Germany

Abstract: With the help of electronic media certain conditions can be created in the teaching of foreign languages, which support a learner-oriented approach in the sense of a moderate constructivistic didactic. This paper aims to show, with the help of a practical example, how forum exercises implement a Western understanding of modern foreign language teaching in a country in the Middle East. Therefore a blended learning model was created, whose application was evaluated by the users. This paper exemplarily presents the application of forum exercises as an accompaniment to face-to-face classes and their potential for an intercultural language course. The term “culture” appears in this context on two levels: (a) as content, and (b) as a feature of the learner’s disposition. Additionally the results of the evaluation of this blended learning form will be presented.

1. Starting Point Many teachers trained in Germany teach German language abroad. However, very few of these teachers are familiar with the culture of these countries and in most of the cases they don’t even speak the languages of the learners. But is that absolutely necessary in order to have a successful intercultural language course? With the help of electronic media certain conditions can be created in the teaching of foreign languages, which support a learner-oriented approach in the sense of a moderate constructivistic didactic (cf. Schulmeister, 1997). This paper aims to show, with the help of a practical example, how forum exercises implement a Western understanding of modern foreign language teaching in a country in the Middle East. Therefore a blended learning model was created, whose application was evaluated by the users. The modern intercultural foreign language didactic, which takes into consideration the principles of moderate constructivism, has the ultimate aim of efficiently using the foreign perspective of the learner (cf. Roche, 2008, 225). Linguistic competence plays a key role in this process. As a teacher, in order to promote this competence, one has to create a language course that is learner and -task-oriented. This


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further shows how important the teacher’s role is as an organizer and a companion in the learning process. A combination of practice, an impartation of linguistic tools and active language application would facilitate an easier retention of the learnt subject matter (cf. Hölscher, 2007; Hölscher et. al., 2006, 2009). If these three principles are adequately applied in a media-assisted language course, even beginners can be in a position to tackle complex exercises.

2. Forum Exercises in an Intercultural Foreign Language Course for Beginners As previously mentioned, the modern intercultural didactic considers the learner’s perspective a starting point in the learning process. In order to introduce this point of view into the lesson one needs the relevant tools. As a cooperative asynchronous tool the forum is quite suitable for this. Apart from being an important means of presenting one’s text, it also offers the following advantages: Content and task authenticity Action orientation (research, text composition and publishing) Use of learning tools (online dictionaries, lexica etc.) Individualization of the learning process (individual tempo, mode of operation is dependent on the learning style, culture specific preferences, interests etc.) Cooperative learning Assumption of responsibility, mutual exchange and mutual assistance (cf. Roche, 2008, 246-247; Wegele, 2006, 12-13.) The independent processing of forum exercises can particularly act as a thematic compliment to the lessons by using the produced and published texts of learners as a starting point for subsequent exercises in face-to-face classes. Most especially culture specific aspects of a topic can be made clearer through this and can equally lead to the enrichment of both parties- the teacher and the learner. Forum texts are a means of initiating intercultural comparisons and by creating additional specific exercises intercultural sensitization can be promoted. There are numerous definitions as to what intercultural competence is. Eßer (2006) in particular was devoted to this. In regards to foreign language courses, the writer made a general distinction between the two levels: a) culture as a theme in the language course and b) culture as a characteristic of the learner’s personality (cf. Eßer, 2006). In this presentation I will be using the approach that intercultural competence is process-oriented as a starting point (cf. Bolten, 2007, 756). In regards to a foreign language course one has the term thus: At the peak of his intercultural competence a foreign language learner is able to communicate adequately and creatively in different variations (Roche, 2008, 233). Therefore a foreign language course has the responsibility of creating “broader perspective, in which both the learner’s own perspective as well as the foreign


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perspective is taken into consideration” (Roche, 2008, 231). Particularly forum exercises can support this process. Even if the teacher isn’t familiar with the respective cultures of the learners he can draw on the learner’s foreknowledge and quite naturally involve the learner’s perspective in class activities. The forum captures the learner’s perspective and the published texts can later be used in a face-to-face course. A successful practical example is presented below.

3. Blended Learning in a Pilot class in Jordan In the summer semester of 2010, within the frame of a German language class at the German-Jordanian University (GJU) in Amman, a pilot class (20 participants) was taught with the textbook “Schritte international A1/1” and with the online module of DUO1 “Basis Deutsch A1/1”. The DUO module “Basis-Deutsch” for beginners serves as an accompaniment to the textbook. It is specifically meant to complement the faceto-face classes and to offer a subtle start into E-learning. German language learners without foreknowledge are presented with the innovative approach of learning the language in accompaniment of multimedia resources. The forms of application vary depending on the target groups and circumstances (cf. Paland, 2011, 7). At the GJU for example, the textbook “Schritte international” had already been used for some semesters. In a pilot class forum exercises from DUO modules were specifically employed after each chapter. In this way a Blended-learning form (cf. chapter 3.1) was created, which shouldn’t over-task the learners. A follow-up phase in the face-to-face class shouldn’t just improve the linguistic ability of the learners, but also promote intercultural competence and reflection, thereby effectively exploiting the foreign perspective of the learners. 3.1. THE BLENDED LEARNING MODEL A foreign language course doesn’t just convey linguistic competence, but intercultural competence as well. This ought to occur in accordance with the recent understanding of the learning process (see chapter 1). It also has to be activity-oriented and take place in authentic situations. If didactically reasonably applied electronic media can help support this learning objective. Particularly blended learning formats are suitable for promoting intercultural competence due to variety of the methods. Blended learning is often regarded as a pragmatic alternative to E-learning. But there’s more to it. Just like Launer (2008, 9) observed, blended learning combines multimedia-supported selflearning phases and face-to-face phases in the class community by taking into consideration the learn groups and learning objectives. In this context one ought to think of ways of reasonably spreading the exercise within each phase and how one can optimally make use of the variety of methods. Relating to the German language course in Jordan the following didactic and methodic considerations were carried out:

1

DUO (www.deutsch-uni.com) is an electronic learning platform, which offers general and technical language courses. DUO was created at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich.


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Table 1. Blended learning phases. Phases of each chapter: Face-to-face phase 1 (12 TU) Online phase (2 TU): Face-to-face phase 2 (2 TU):

Material:

Intercultural Learning objectives:

Coursebook

Knowing the foreign perspective (target culture) Expressing one’s own perspective Combining one’s own perspective and the foreign perspective together and engage oneself intensively with it.

DUO forum Texts from the forum in class

The course book particularly conveys the foreign perspective in the respective themes. The online and discussion phase always uses the learner’s perspective (i.e. one’s own perspective) as a starting point. By dealing with both perspectives one generates something new and draws consequences from intercultural exercises. The second face-to-face phase is responsible for this. Figure 1 depicts the functions of the different phases in this blended learning format.

Figure 1. Blended learning model and intercultural learning.

4. Example of a Course Unit As an example the processing of the fourth chapter “Meine Wohnung” (‘Housing’) will now be presented in individual steps. After intensively devoting themselves to the course book and learning much about German homes, the learners were then required to work on the forum exercises by writing about their own apartments. Specific categories were created from the individual forum texts, which contain culture-specific aspects. Every teacher can easily create a similar outline for his/her own course. Table 2 portrays a conclusion of the various categories. The texts provide important culture-specific information on the topic “A Jordanian home”. On the whole a very positive self-image is presented. The learners love to present their apartments and are very proud of the furnishings. The home appears to be the centre of the large family. The size of the house, which is unusual from a European perspective, is due to the fact that the family is made of many members and they all live under the same roof. Important components of a Jordanian house are the garden, balcony and garage.


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Table 2. Cultural aspects in the description of the home. Categories:

Examples:

Comment:

Size:

Large spaces are normal. Due to the landscape and distance a car in Jordan is a necessity.

Family:

250, 350, 400 and 485 square metre; numerous rooms each with its own bathroom and WC, usually with a balcony, garden and garage. Large families, many siblings

Furnishing:

Ten sofas, large table, large bed

Colours:

White, brown, blue, black, gold

Activities:

TV (LCD). PS3, playing computer games.

The family is very important. The families are very large and they all usually live under one roof. Having lots of furnitures and luxuriant furnishings is seen as a sign of taste and wealth. Gold-coloured tones with patterns are considered traditional. But other colours were equally mentioned. Technology is very much appreciated â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the latest models are very important

It is also noticeable that the house is associated with extracurricular activities â&#x20AC;&#x201C; watching TV, playing computer games etc. this valuable information could serve as a starting point when creating more exercises for the third phase of the blended learning model. Below are three examples2: 1. 2. 3.

In the first exercise the learners were asked to compare two pictures (a German and a Jordanian house). Different questions were asked regarding the pictures, which led to a group discussion. In the second exercise the learners were required to do a sketch of their houses showing the different rooms. In this way the learned vocabulary is consolidated. This creative exercise had to be done independently. Different texts from the forum were presented on slides and discussed in pairs. Thereafter each pair presented the result of their discussion to the rest of the class.

All three exercises were meant to lead to an analysis of both cultures. In this way the linguistic competence (vocabulary, structure, oral expression) of the learners where quite naturally expanded. By receiving a corrected version of their own texts the learners were also able to get an individual feedback, thereby helping them improve on their mistakes. In conclusion one can say that the students were able to express themselves freely, share their experiences, but also reflect on their own culture in such a flexible learning environment. The teacher is expected to carry out an analysis of the forum texts and with it think up more topics for discussions. In the second phase the teacher acts as a 2

Detailed description in Todorova (2012).


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moderator leaving the main initiative to the learners. Through the class discussions the students were on cultural specifics in both Germany and Jordan. But differences could also be found even within their own culture. In this way they learned to argue and qualify their perspectives. In doing so, they make use of the foreign language as a means of communication. Considering the fact that the texts would be published, the students tried to be creative and accurate. Particularly the authenticity of the exercises and the practical character of the course were determinant in the follow-up phase (Faceto-face phase 2).

5. Results of the Evaluation For learners whose previous learning experience has solely been based on the guidance of an external figure, composing texts and publishing these in the forum can be quite challenging especially for beginners. For the Jordanian students the learning process had always been one of memorizing the contents and reproducing exactly what has been memorized (Learning traditions and habits). This expectation however was not met in the German language class. Instead the students were expected to apply the language in communicative situations. With the help of the topics in the textbooks and different social forms, opportunities were created for the students to act and experiment with the language. The forum exercises played a significant role in this as they were able to capture the learners’ perspectives. In the follow-up phase both perspectives – the foreign and the personal – were analyzed. The blended learning model in the pilot class was evaluated. The Learner’s self-evaluation was central. At the end of the semester a survey was carried out in order to ascertain the learners’ acceptance of this approach. The following aspects were assessed on a five-step Likert scale: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

The blended learning form (Face-to-face 1 – Online – Face-to-face 2) The independent writing and publishing of forum texts The discussion of personal texts in the class The involvement of personal and foreign perspective in the topic Linguistic improvement (Self-evaluation) The individual topics from the course book Personal opinion on the course

The acceptance of the blended learning form was very high (Table 3.): 75% of the interviewees described it as “very good” and 25% as “good”. There were no negative assessments. They all found the composition and publishing of forum texts very good (Table 4). 80% of the interviewees scored this aspect with “very good” and 20% with “good”.


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Table 3. Acceptance of the blended learning form. class arangement

Valid

Very Good Good Total

Frequency 15 5 20

Percent 75,0 25,0 100,0

Cumulative Percent 75,0 100,0

Valid Percent 75,0 25,0 100,0

Table 4. Acceptance of the forum exercises. publish

Valid

Very Good Good Total

Frequency 16 4 20

Percent 80,0 20,0 100,0

Valid Percent 80,0 20,0 100,0

Cumulative Percent 80,0 100,0

The discussions in the follow-up phase was evaluated thus (Table 5): 80% found it “very good”, 15% found it “good” and 5% found it “barely acceptable”. Table 5. Acceptance of the discussions in the second phase. discussions

Valid

Very Good Good Barely Acceptable Total

Frequency 16 3

Percent 80,0 15,0

Valid Percent 80,0 15,0

Cumulative Percent 80,0 95,0 100,0

1

5,0

5,0

20

100,0

100,0

Table 5. Acceptance of the discussions in the second phase. All the interviewees were pleased with the contrastive exercise in the second faceto-face class (Table 6). 80% found it “very good”, while 20% found it good. Table 6. Contrastive exercise in the second face-to-face phase. contrastive work

Valid

Very Good Good Total

Frequency 16 4 20

Percent 80,0 20,0 100,0

Valid Percent 80,0 20,0 100,0

Cumulative Percent 80,0 100,0


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All participants felt they had improved linguistically. The self-evaluation of their own performance was quite high (Table 7). 65% ticked the category “very good” and 35% ticked “good”. Table 7. Self-evaluation of one’s own performance. improvement

Valid

Very Good Good Total

Frequency 13 7 20

Percent 65,0 35,0 100,0

Valid Percent 65,0 35,0 100,0

Cumulative Percent 65,0 100,0

The participants were supposed to individually evaluate the seven topics that were covered during the semester. Table 8 shows the result: Table 8. Evaluation of the individual topics.

Very Good Good Barely Acceptable

Hello

Family

Food

Housing

My day

Count 10 10

Count 17 3

Count 20

Count

Count 11 6

20

Hobbies Count 20

Learning Count

3

All topics were positively scored. Favorite topics were Food, Housing and Hobbies, followed by Hello and Family. And last of all My day and Learning. In conclusion the students were asked to express themselves freely. There were very informative responses in regard to what they liked and didn’t like. There were both positive as well as negative aspects. It was quite noticeable that both intrinsic as well as extrinsic motivational factors played a role in this evaluation: Intrinsic: Extrinsic:

DUO makes learning German interesting. We had fun with it. The topics are important for us. But we have to be serious with our learning, because we need it for our stay in Germany.

The following areas were positively evaluated: a) The topics: The topics in the course book are important for us. I found the topics in the course book interesting and authentic. Now I know more about Germany and the German culture.

4 13 3


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We learned a lot about life in Germany. Certain things are done differently in our country. We always spoke about Germany and Jordan. That is good. b) Working method: It was nice that we first of all did the forum exercises in pairs. Now I can do them alone. With DUO we worked independently, in the classroom we could work with a partner and discuss together. That was new for us, but we had fun. The teacher wanted us to speak in German. That was good. We worked as a team. c) The atmosphere: We always had fun, even when we didn’t understand the grammar anymore. Learning German can also be fun. I had to speak a lot in German, but I’m not scared even if I make mistakes. The teacher was very nice. d) One’s own language skills: We spoke in German from the first day on. I don’t speak so well, but I can. Now I understand some IT terms in German. We made use of our forum texts in the classroom and discussed more about it. Now I know that each one of us has a different opinion. That is interesting. e) The online module: DUO makes learning German interesting. We had fun with it. The online module is modern and useful. We could hear different accents in the programme. That is authentic. The grammar was explained in a very simple manner, with animations. This makes it easier to understand them. We wrote in the forum every week. I always wanted to be more creative and better than the others. f) Media competence: I can research in the internet in German, and I don’t have to make use of Google translator. For the first time I published something in German in the forum. We were the first class at the university to learn German with the internet. That was great. g) The learning tradition We learned differently initially. We had to learn a lot of things by heart, sometimes without understanding. But in the German language class we were allowed to be creative and think up our own examples. And we know what to use in every situation.


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The following negative aspects were much fewer than the positive aspects: a) The German language The explanations were in German. It was difficult. German is more difficult than English, especially the grammar. Some structures were illogical, e.g. ‘Ich habe keine Zeit’ (I don’t have time). b) Effort We had to write something in the forum every week. It was difficult. We had to work hard. But we were allowed to make use of aids such as online grammar and dictionaries. The teacher also helped us a lot. In conclusion one can deduce that the blended learning form was well received by the learners. Whether intrinsically or extrinsically motivated, all learners had fun in the course. They could reflect on their learning process and give an exact description of where and how they’ve made progress. The blended learning form and the communicative approach were very new to the participants, who were used to the approach the teacher controlling every aspect of the course. But they were very receptive and hard-working. In general the acceptance of the use of the forum was quite high. Particularly the interesting and authentic contents, the creative composition in the forum and the intensive examination of their own texts in the follow-up phase have proven to be quite vital for the learning success. Despite the culture-bound learning habits and expectations (externally controlled learning), the learners where able to adapt to this new learning approach within a short period of time and discover the joy of an activityoriented lesson. Hereby the blended learning approach has shown itself to be successful as far as the Jordanian students are concerned. Although cultural preferences regarding the learning form could be felt, they however didn’t play a crucial role in the learning process or result. This recommended teaching model is flexible and can therefore be applied to all learners, both to homogenous as well as heterogeneous groups.

6. Conclusion The model presented in this paper can be applied in a foreign language course either as exactly presented or slightly changed. One can work with “Schritte International” and the basis modules of DUO, but other learn platforms which provide forum features can also be used. It is important that the online and face-to-face phases are didactically in tune with each other. The individual steps (cf. chapter 4) can be carried out with any topic. The teacher should use the learner’s perspective as a starting point and create grounds for intercultural discussions from it. The role of the teacher in the blended learning model is very important. He/she is a specialized competent individual, who doesn’t just correct the learner’s texts, but also motivates and urges them to independence. He shapes the course in such a way that there’s room for the learners’ initiative and creativity. In this way an action-based foreign language course can be realized, because language has to be applied in an authentic situation. Even learners, who are used to learning under the absolute control of the teacher, can also have fun in


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an action-based course, thereby expanding their culture-bound understanding of learning. Electronic media act as work tools and support this complex process. Besides they make an important contribution to the realization of blended learning formats. This format supports the individualization of the learning process through its variety of methods. In this way everyone can find his/her own learning tempo and learning path.

References Bolten, Jürgen (2007). Interkulturelle Kompetenz im E-Learning. In J. Straub; A. Weidemann; D. Weidemann (Hrsg.). Handbuch interkulturelle Kommunikation und Kompetenz. Stuttgart/Weimar, S.755-763. Eßer, R. (2006). „Die deutschen Lehrer reden weniger und fragen mehr …“ Zur Relevanz des Kulturfaktors im DaF-Unterricht. Zeitschrift fur Interkulturellen Fremdsprachenunterricht [Online], 11, 3. Hölscher, Petra, Piepho, Hans-Eberhard & Roche, Jörg (2006). Handlungsorientierter Unterricht mit Lernszenarien. Kernfragen zum Spracherwerb. Finken Verlag: Oberursel. Hölscher, Petra (2007). Lernszenarien. Sprache kann nicht gelehrt, sondern nur gelernt werden. In Ahrenholz, Bernt: Deutsch als Zweitsprache. Voraussetzungen und Konzepte für die Förderung von Kindern und Jugendlichen mit Migrationshintergrund (pp.151-167). Fillibach: Freiburg. Hölscher, Petra, Roche Jörg & Mirjana Simic (2009). Szenariendidaktik als Lernraum für interkulturelle Kompetenzen im erst-, zweit- und fremdsprachigen Unterricht. In: Zeitschrift für Interkulturellen Fremdsprachenunterricht [Online] 14:2, 12 Abrufbar unter http://zif.spz.tu-darmstadt.de/jg-14-2/beitrag/HoelscherRocheSimic3.htm. Launer, Rebecca. (2008). Blended Learning im Fremdsprachenunterricht: Konzeption und Evaluation eines Modells. Dissertation, LMU München. Abrufbar unter: http://edoc.ub.uni-muenchen.de/8905/1/Launer_Rebecca.pdf. Paland, I. (2011). Die Kurse der Deutsch-Uni Online. Einsatzszenarien für tutoriell betreute Online- und Blended-Learning-Kurse. In de Matteis, M., Kadzadej, B. & Röhling, J. (Hrsg.) Medien, Interkulturalität und Landeskunde im Deutschunterricht. Reihe: Albanische Universitätsstudien. Athena Verlag: Oberhausen. Roche, Jörg (2008). Fremdsprachenerwerb – Fremdsprachendidaktik. Tübingen: UTB. Schulmeister, Rolf (1997). Grundlagen hypermedialer Lernsysteme: Theorie - Didaktik - Design. Munchen, Wien: Oldenbourg. Todorova, Dessislava (2012). Lerntraditionen und elektronische Medien – ein Widerspruch? BMW-LIFE. Wegele, Erika (2006). Tutorielle Betreuung beim Online-Sprachprogramm uni-deutsch.de. Erste Erfahrungen aus der Praxis. In: Zeitschrift für Interkulturellen Fremdsprachenunterricht, 11(2), 17, http://zif.spz.tu-darmstadt.de/jg-11-2/beitrag/Wegele1.htm.


M. Strano, H. Hrachovec, F. Sudweeks and C. Ess (eds). Proceedings Cultural Attitudes Towards Technology and Communication 2012, Murdoch University, Australia, 174-186.

INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES (ICTS) AS A TOOL FOR INTERCULTURAL EDUCATION A collaborative experience in secondary education in Tlapa de Comonfort, Guerrero, Mexico LUZ LAZOS RAMÍREZ Seminario Sociedad del Conocimiento y Diversidad Cultural Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México Mexico City, Mexico XENIA A. RUEDA ROMERO Posgrado en Filosofía de la Ciencia Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México Mexico City, Mexico ROBERTO FELTRERO OREJA Departamento de Lógica, Historia y Filosofía de la Ciencia Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia Madrid, Spain AND JUAN CARLOS GARCIA CRUZ Posgrado en Filosofía de la Ciencia Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México Mexico City, Mexico

Abstract. This paper discusses the collaborative experience of creating educational materials for a secondary school in Tlapa de Comonfort, Guerrero, México. In this school, students from Nahuatl, Tun savi, Me'phaa and Spanish speaking communities live and learn together. The intercultural context provides challenges for science education that we sought to address. The use of collaborative technologies in science classes has made visible the cultural diversity in the classroom, helping students and teachers recognize themselves as active agents in the construction of common knowledge and in sharing their knowledge. This experience also shows the importance of ICTs as technologies of expression that reinforce individual and collective identity in intercultural contexts.


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1.Introduction The city of Tlapa de Comonfort, Guerrero is the point of contact of indigenous communities in the region of La Monta単a. In this city members from Nahuatl, Tun Saavi, Me'phaa and Spanish speaking communities live together. This work was conducted in a secondary school that reflects the cultural diversity of Tlapa. In that school, as elsewhere in Mexico, educational policies follow strong trends towards the imposition of hegemonic visions that make invisible the cultural diversity. This situation and other factors related to social and economic inequality experienced by indigenous communities, results in low levels of educational achievement that lead to the loss of a large number of indigenous students in the educational system, (INEE, 2009). Intercultural education is proposed as an alternative to achieve objectives related to the valuation of knowledge and practices of different cultural groups. In recent years, the Mexican educational system, in order to change this situation, has promoted several initiatives and programs focused on intercultural education for the recognition, respect and promotion of cultural diversity (Shmelckes, 2003). In practice, intercultural education requires strategies for developing communication skills that promote recognition of cultural diversity and coexistence based on dialogue, and among these strategies, the use of ICTs has been recently incorporated. According to the strategy proposed in our experience, ICTs in intercultural education offer a new dimension to make available to both teachers and students tools that contribute to the access, distribution, appropriation and application of knowledge as well as the competences to share it with a large number of individuals. This paper presents an overview of intercultural education in Mexico and its insertion to reduce the problems of exclusion of indigenous students in secondary basic education. We show the models and principles for use and appropriation of technologies in learning communities as part of strategies to achieve the objectives of intercultural education through the collaborative production of educational materials. Finally, a brief description of the experience and its main results point to some reflections on new experiences in using ICTs in the recognition of cultural diversity, promotion of dialogue, and assessment of the richness of the intercultural coexistence.

2. Intercultural Education in the Mexican Educational System In Mexico, the discussion of intercultural education is closely related to the role that has been given to the various indigenous peoples in the formation of a national project. During the twentieth century, the Mexican education system had a policy based on the assimilation of indigenous peoples through the promotion of Spanish language literacy, imposing perspectives beyond the preferences and intentions of indigenous peoples that result in two parallel subsystems: on one hand, education directed to the indigenous students, whose organization often isolates the members of indigenous communities and on the other hand, the education of "not indigenous" population, that does not recognize the cultural diversity, and in many cases holds a position that identifies national unity


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with cultural homogeneity, where social diversity is an obstacle (RamĂ­rez, 2006; Tello, 1997). The recognition of Mexico as a multicultural and multilingual country was included in Article 4 of the Mexican Constitution in 1992, marking the beginning of major changes in education. In 2001 the Constitution also included the need for intercultural education for the entire Mexican population, referring to both indigenous and minority migrants from different countries (Shmelkes, 2003). The Reform of Secondary Education (2006) notes that intercultural education is essential for building knowledge and skills, values and attitudes towards the recognition of cultural diversity, based on the critical analysis of the characteristics of the community and its relation with the regional, state, national and international context. Thus, it is expected that secondary education contributes to the making of competent members of intercultural communities: "The student recognizes and values different cultural practices and processes. The student participates to the respectful coexistence and assumes interculturality as a dialogue to live together in social diversity, ethnic, cultural and linguistic diversity" (SEP, 2006). All the syllabi of basic secondary education include some issues related to intercultural education. However, in everyday teaching practice, the intercultural approach fails to reach the objectives due to the lack of educational resources. For example, some textbooks inserted in a superficial way the discussion on cultural diversity, showing traditional knowledge as a non-valuable knowledge, often providing an unfavorably comparison with Western culture (Castillo, 2010; GarcĂ­a and Lazos, 2012). In many textbooks issues related to intercultural education are often isolated from their context, and there is no connection between intercultural issues in the same course, lacking of the minimal integration that is intended in the plans and curricula for skills development, and without reflections to appreciate science as a product of cultural interaction. This gap between the approaches of the programs and the effective implementation of an intercultural approach in secondary education results on several facts: 1) lack of recognition of cultural diversity in the school context, 2) lack of materials and resources for use in specific contexts in secondary schools and 3) deficiency in teacher training to comprehensively address issues of cultural diversity Clearly, the transformation of the current status of basic secondary education requires new perspectives to identified problems, and in this context, ICTs appear as a viable option. The theoretical background for the use of ICTs as tools for intercultural science education is based in a pluralistic perspective of knowledge, as well as the principles of social justice for intercultural dialogue to promote the conversion of the plurality of cognitive resources into real opportunities for social change (Villoro, 2009). This theoretical approach is suitable for the study of Mexican society where coexistence between different cultures is marked by extreme inequality. Under these conditions, the pursuit of social justice is closely linked to the recognition of cultural


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diversity and the need of pluralistic dialogue (Villoro, 2009; Dos Santos, 2007). In this perspective, education's main purpose is the development of citizenship skills to promote the recognition, reflection and appropriation of different forms of knowledge (Olive, 2007).

3. Intercultural Education and the Use of ICTs Information and communication technologies (ICTs) offer new possibilities for content development and educational activities. Its application allows the design of new teaching methodologies, teaching and learning materials as well as multimedia resources that can provide interesting developments in education. From a moderate perspective, ICT mean a group of informational sources for students and tools to analyze and communicate their learning products. In this perspective, ICT is of great importance as a resource to promote active learning. In this work, ICTs are considered not only as communication resources or tools to solve problems, but also as cognitive elements that transform the relations of creation and exchange of knowledge. From this perspective, the role of ICTs is not limited to providing information management tools, but it offers models of cognitive agency, focused on the collaborative production and exchange of knowledge that are directly associated with the formation of learning communities (Lessing, 2004). This perspective of ICTs can meet the requirements of an education system that go beyond simple cultural exchange of knowledge, requiring also the training of students as active agents in the assessment, generation and communication of knowledge that occurs in specific contexts. A model of intercultural education involving local actors in the production, communication sharing educational content of each community, requires a methodology for the collaborative production and open for any such content (Valladares, 2010; Feltrero, 2009). The example of knowledge-producing communities in the network is being used as a model for understanding self-organizing communities leading to produce information and knowledge (Feltrero, 2009). The basic principles shared by almost all successful communities of knowledge production in the network, such as the famous Wikipedia, can be enumerated as follows: - The mediation of technology tools for knowledge production and sharing through the Internet. - The open-ended principle which states that everyone can participate in the process of knowledge production and allowing diverse groups with diverse abilities, each to the extent practicable, motivations and interests, to contribute in the collaborative production process. - The sense of community shared by all those who contribute to this process of creation and the members who make voluntary contributions in order to search for a common purpose, socially sound and valid. In the field of intercultural education, the need to develop a large number of new educational materials, each adjusted to the cultural context, justifies the need for


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collaboration and participation of all stakeholders in the process, in which include teachers and learners through the necessary review provided by both educational specialists and qualified representatives of each cultural community. This model has been the basis for intercultural education strategy applied to the production of educational materials in the intercultural context of secondary education in Tlapa, Guerrero.

4. The Work at Tlapa de Comonfort, Guerrero La Montaña, Guerrero is a region of southern Mexico where communities Nahua, Tun Saavi, Me'phaa and Spanish-speaking groups live. Many communities have intercultural bilingual primary schools, but in secondary education level, students attend general and technical schools outside their places of origin, where they meet members of other communities. The experience presented here was conducted in a secondary school in the city of Tlapa de Comonfort, the largest city in the region of La Montaña in the state of Guerrero (Figure 1). This school, located in the marginal zone of Tlapa, is the main option for young people to pursue their studies between the ages of 11 and 17 years. Many are people from various communities in the region. In this school, 55% of students speak a native language of the region. It is noteworthy that some of these students also speak Spanish and even two or three Indian languages, depending on the community of origin, while others are monolingual, with minimal competences in Spanish. The school operates with a minimum of material and human resources, with 15 teachers to serve 500 students, covering the 7-hour school day. It is worth mentioning that all teachers are Spanish speakers, with very little knowledge of other languages (Figure 2). This experience was conducted as part of the research project “Alternatives for Science Education in Intercultural Contexts” funded by the National Council of Science and Technology of Mexico. This research has been developed on several states of Mexico, both urban and rural secondary schools. The main objective of the project is the study of factors involved in the intercultural education, focus in science teaching, to identify some problems and propose strategies for attempt to resolve them. The initial work of the project had identified that, despite the characteristics of the secondary school at Tlapa, cultural diversity was an issue virtually invisible, or only perceived as a cause of low achievement levels among students. Although in daily contact there is an evident linguistic diversity, the trend in education has been to minimize the use of indigenous languages, especially in the case of science courses. Students express their motivation to attend school to learn what is necessary to be incorporated as soon as possible to work, and very few students expect to continue their studies in high school. More importantly, for many students attending school only serves to achieve a sufficient level of Spanish to work as a mason, a house maid or just to be able to migrate to other regions, so their minimal interest in other subjects of secondary education, as science courses, is noticeable (García & Lazos, 2012).


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The textbooks and other educative resources are only available in Spanish, and often focus on the urban reality of central Mexico, unrelated to the state and regional context of Guerrero. Given the characteristics of context it seemed to apply a series of educational interventions based on the model of ICT-mediated collaborative work addressing issues of science from an intercultural perspective. The work aimed to explore the knowledge about their environment that the students use in their every day life, and beyond that, to establish a dialogue between different types of knowledge, including scientific and technological knowledge (Figure 2). The contents were initially referred to the structure of plants, maize cultivation and the use of terraces for cultivation in mountainous areas. However, when working with students and teachers, it was necessary to broaden the discussion including content related to everyday life in the communities and the interests of the students. The model of collaborative creation was implemented as far as possible. It was considered that the most important contribution would come from teachers, however, the response of students exceeded our expectations. After working on the recognition and appreciation of cultural diversity, the students wanted to produce materials in their native languages. The students produced and shared materials in video, text, or audio. Some materials were translated to several languages in the collaborative process. The video has been one of the most used tools, because it is very appealing and easy to handle, with the possibility of incorporating two learning strategies that are very close to students: observation and narration. In addition, when students are faced with the task of planning a video for their peers to learn a given subject, it is necessary to establish action plans and decision making, which require the development of their attitudes to collaboration and dialogue (Figures 3). Issues related to cultivation have been successful in motivating students to recognize themselves as knowers and show their own knowledge. Through video, students have found the ability to display one of its facets less recognized in the classroom: their role as peasants, which has contributed to the recognition of this activity in the school context (Figure 4). In the videos, students show their knowledge of the natural environment that in many cases has been obtained by their early incorporation into the work arena. The local knowledge takes on new meanings when compared to scientific knowledge, establishing a dialogue between the school vision and the everyday reality. It is common in discussions that students involve some local knowledge while explaining a scientific construct (Figure 5). Collaboratively produced materials also serve as a basis for reflection on the different ways of learning. For example, during the screening of one of the videos, several students made comments and questions about the possibility of introducing new plants in other environments, leading the discussion to questions about how they had learned and how we could test, confronting traditional practices with an experimental design. One aspect to be emphasized is how the collaborative production of the video for science courses has been a valuable tool for the recognition of linguistic diversity and the use of different languages in education (Figure 6). From the moment of planning the


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video, students have considered the importance of assigning the role of translator or interpreter between the participants, to include the participation of speakers of different languages outside school such as the elderly communities or people with no schooling. Furthermore, this effect has extended the possibility of parallel exhibition of materials produced for other audiences, using the linguistic possibilities of the members of the context, since many of the materials incorporate at least two languages other than Spanish. So far, the materials show the potential of this model to produce materials tailored to intercultural contexts and represent an important exercise for the appropriation of knowledge. One of the most important results has been the establishment of a new way of working, which allows students to be recognized as active agents in the learning process, as bearers of valuable local knowledge, and as members of a community where knowledge is socially generated and shared. It should be noted that the collaborative work opened opportunities to establish links and commitments among the participants. The work inside a learning community was a new experience for many students and teachers at school. The experience shows how open participation according to the various capabilities brings many possibilities for dialogue and intercultural interaction, making visible the cultural and linguistic diversity in the classroom (Figure 7). While this paper has emphasized the resulting video, it is important to note that the experience has included the use of several technologies; to drawing, using text and audio so that the participants have the resources needed to continue independently with the collaborative creation and dissemination of materials via the Internet (See Appendix Figure 8). The next step is to extend this experience to other communities and research groups, sharing materials via the Internet, in an open space on web for the collaborative creation and exchange of resources for intercultural education. This web site has the objective to share and promote diverse resources based on content selected and developed by the communities themselves, making a contribution to solving the problems of lack of educational materials in Mexican indigenous languages and their failure to adjust to the cultural context where employed. One point to be solved is the limited access to many online communities and tools for the production of materials, making it necessary to establish criteria for selecting appropriate technologies and free alternatives. Likewise, it is important to keep in mind that the continuity of such interventions depends largely on the possibility of providing people of technological possibilities for exchange, dissemination and creation of culturally appropriate content.

5. Conclusions The experiment conducted in a secondary school in Tlapa shows how even under limited economic resources, it is possible to establish models that transform the relations of learning and allow recognition of cultural diversity. The collaborative production model has been successful in engaging students as active members of a learning community and in recognizing the technological and


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social possibilities of promoting linguistic diversity in the classroom. In addition, the model enabled participants to recognize themselves as active agents in the collaborative production of educational materials appropriate to their socio-cultural context and expectations. This experience shows the need to use ICTs not only as a tool of information management, but as a technology for individual and collective expression central to intercultural dialogue. Acknowledgements Thanks to the remarkable students, teachers and authorities at the Lázaro Cárdenas Secondary School of Tlapa. Thanks to León Olivé, Marcela Tovar, Eurídice Sosa, Graciela Salazar, Alejandra García and Salvador Armando Pérez. Thanks for the photographs to Ricardo García, Jesús Susano, and Angel Osorio. Acknowledgements to the Project “Alternativas para la enseñanza de las ciencias en contextos interculturales” (CONACYT 110139), Instituto de Investigaciones Filosóficas and the Research Seminar “Sociedad del Conocimiento y Diversidad Cultural”, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.

References Castillo Hernández, M. A. (2010). Diversidad lingüística y cultural. Consideraciones para una educación indígena en México. Anales de Antropología. de Sousa Santos, Boaventura. (2006). Beyond abyssal thinking: From global lines to ecologies of knowledges. Retrieved Jun 14, 2011 from: www.eurozine.com/articles/2007-06-29-santosen.html Feltrero, R. (2009). Educación y software libre: herramientas y modelos para el aprendizaje colaborativo, Transatlántica de Educación, (7) 31-43. García, A. & Lazos, L. (2012). La educación científica intercultural: de los beneficios teóricos a los problemas prácticos. Revista de Derechos Humanos y Estudios Sociales REDHES 3( 6), 21-36. INEE, (2009). Panorama educativo de México. Indicadores del Sistema Educativo Nacional. México: Instituto Nacional para la Evaluación de la Educación. Lessing, L.(2004) Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity. Retrieved January 11, 2012 http://www.jus.uio.no/sisu/free_culture.lawrence_lessig/portrait.letter.pdf Olivé, L (2007). La ciencia y la tecnología en la sociedad del conocimiento. Ética, política y epistemología. México: Fondo de Cultura Económica. Ramírez Castañeda, E. (2006). La educación indígena en México. México: Colección México, país multicultural-UNAM. Schmelkes, S. (2003). La política de la educación bilingüe intercultural en México. Ponencia presentada en el Seminario Internacional “Educación en la Diversidad: Experiencias y Desafíos desde la Educación Intercultural Bilingüe”, organizado por el Instituto Internacional de Planificación Educativa de la UNESCO de Buenos Aires, y la Coordinación General de Educación intercultural Bilingüe de la Secretaría de Educación Pública de México, celebrado en la Ciudad de México, los días 10 y 11 de junio de 2003. Consultada: 29 de febrero de 2012 en: http://www.amdh.com.mx/ocpi/informe/docbas/docs/ 6/19.pdf.


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SEP (2006). Reforma de la educación básica secundaria. México: Secretaría de Educación Pública. Tello Díaz, M. (1994). El mismo diablo nos robó el papel. México: CONACULTA. Valladares, L. (2010) La educación intercultural y el enfoque de las capacidades. Revista CTS, 16(6): 39-69. Villoro, L. (2009). Tres retos de la sociedad por venir. Justicia, democracia, pluralidad. México: Siglo XXI.

Appendix

Figure 1. The State of Guerrero is located in Southern Mexico.


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Figure 2. Overview of Secondary School at Tlapa de Comonfort, Guerrero (Photo by: Angel Osorio).

Figure 3. The first step for making a video:.Writing a sound story about science (Photo by: Jesus Susano)


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Figure 4. The participants of the workshop on science and video analizing their first works. (Photo by: Jesus Susano)

Figure 5. The students carried on themselves all the steps of video production. Here, a camera girl. (Photo by: Ricardo GarcĂ­a)


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Figure 6. The students used their creativity for making the video taking some materials on hand at the school. (Photo by: Jesus Susano)

Figure 7. The edition was made by working at computers that were provided by the research team. (Photo by: Jesus Susano)


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Figure 8. «The Universe» was one of the themes for making a video. (Photo by: Ricardo García)


M. Strano, H. Hrachovec, F. Sudweeks and C. Ess (eds). Proceedings Cultural Attitudes Towards Technology and Communication 2012, Murdoch University, Australia, 187-192.

IN/VISIBILITY IN THE INTERNET’S THIRD AGE LELIA GREEN1, HERBERT HRACHOVEC2, LEAH P. MACFADYEN3, KRISTIN SORENSEN4 AND MAJA VAN DER VELDEN5 1 Mass Communications, Media and Cultural Studies, School of Communications and Arts, Edith Cowan University, Australia 2 Department of Philosophy, University of Vienna, Austria 3 Arts ISIT, Faculty of Arts, The University of British Columbia, Canada 4 Department of Global Studies, Bentley University, Waltham, MA, USA 5 Department of Informatics, University of Oslo, Norway

Abstract. Current research (see, for example, Cheong, Martin & Macfadyen, 2012) on patterns of global and intercultural new media penetration and use nevertheless reveal the thinness of earlier utopian hopes for a technologically mediated “global village.” Nevertheless, new media are transforming local, political and cultural landscapes. What has (and who have) been made newly in/visible by new media and technologies? Participants in this panel will present and discuss aspects of their current research that shed light, in different ways, on questions of in/visibility in this, the Internet’s ‘Third Age’ (Wellman, 2011).

1. Context At the start of the second decade of the new millennium, there is increasing awareness of the development and use of newer “smart” and more interactive media that is happening with precipitate speed in many parts of the world. The uprisings in the Arab region in 2011, for instance, focused attention on the use of digital social media and acknowledged their role in movements for political engagement and change. Terms such as the “Twitter revolution” and the “Facebook revolution” have been used widely, conceptualizing the notions of “dynamic media” or “Web 2.0” as potentially radical, disruptive, and socially transformative. Indeed, one might be fooled into believing that “old” debates about technology and Internet access and media control are dead, and that future work should begin with the premise that novel technologies are now driving changes in the way that ‘all’ people relate to each other, within and across cultures. Current research (see, for example, Cheong, Martin & Macfadyen, 2012) on patterns of global and intercultural new media penetration and use nevertheless reveal the thinness of such utopian and technological determinist hopes, which proclaimed the arrival of a new technological enlightenment and the inevitable development of McLuhan’s long-forecasted “global village.” At the same time, continuing work does not simply uphold the pessimistic predictions of dystopian naysayers who insisted (as did commentators on earlier technologies) that the


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Internet and new media would fragment human relationships and cultures and divide us from each other. Instead, diverse studies give evidence of the multiple, often contradictory and apparently muddled ways in which our online and offline lives interweave and interact with one another, as communication technologies become ever more seamlessly integrated into human lives and cultures. What actually happens in praxis when digital media are implemented within and across cultures continues to be contested and negotiated within complex local, cultural and political conditions, and patterns of technology and media access remain uneven.

2. Panel Contributors and Contributions Participants in this panel will present and discuss aspects of their current research that shed light, in different ways, on questions of in/visibility in this, the Internet’s ‘Third Age’ (Wellman, 2011). Whose images and words are now seen/presented/promoted and whose are not? Which gaps remain in current scholarship regarding cultural attitudes towards technology and communication? Which social contexts have, as yet, been dramatically understudied? Is objective representation of the realities of, marginalized groups better than no visibility at all, even if the people in question do not have access or skills to present themselves as subjects? Which realities of corporate or political control of media and communications may be masked by the new structures of social media? The following summaries and references give insight into their current research interests. 2.1. LEAH P. MACFADYEN (PANEL ORGANIZER) Leah P. Macfadyen (PhD, The University of British Columbia, Canada) is a Researcher and Instructor in the Faculty of Arts at The University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. She is interested in the many and varied intersections (and collisions) between the social and the technological, and her research agenda includes educational technology studies, global and transformative education, and Internet research. Her most recent writings on aspects of culture, identity, and online education have appeared in edited collections such as Digital Differences: Perspectives on Online Education (2010) and Learning Cultures in Online Education (2010). In 2011, together with Pauline H. Cheong and Judith N. Martin, Leah has coedited and contributed to a new edited collection: New Media and Intercultural Communication: Identity, Community and Politics (2012). 2.2. LELIA GREEN, DEBBIE RODAN, AND LYNSEY URIDGE Lelia Green (PhD, Murdoch University, Australia) is Professor of Communications at the School of Communications and Arts at Edith Cowan University and a Chief Investigator with the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation. The author of The Internet: An Introduction to New Media (2010), Dr. Green’s research interests focus on audiences, users, and the social and cultural aspects of communication technologies.


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2.2.1. Negotiating a New Identity Online and Off-Line: The HeartNET Experience Debbie Rodan, Lynsey Uridge and Lelia Green have been working with an online community of heart patients since 2007. HeartNET has provided an environment in which to observe the interaction of new media, identity formation and the cultural positioning of heart patients. Imposing the identity of heart patient upon a person challenges the individual’s notion of self. The challenge comes from the threat to an identity which to that point in people's lives might have appeared whole and stable. As a result of having a heart event, heart patients are named and positioned in particular ways by others, and in this respect a heart patient identity operates in ways similar to other identities such as gender, race and class. One reason for this positioning is the media’s very narrow conception of a heart patient’s identity which is constructed as either the tragically ill medical model, or the superhuman recovered tri-athlete. HeartNET is one of the few online communities that offers a range of differing identities to heart patients and the potential for a renewed idea of the self. 2.3. HERBERT HRACHOVEC Herbert Hrachovec (PhD, University of Vienna, Austria) is Lecturer in the Department of Philosophy, at the University of Vienna, Austria. He has held scholarships and visiting appointments at the University of Oxford (United Kingdom), the University of Münster (Germany), Harvard University, Cambridge, MA (USA), Freie Universität Berlin, Universität Duisburg-Essen (Germany), Bauhaus-Universität Weimar (Germany), University of Bergen (Norway), and The University of Klagenfurt (Austria). His areas of specialization are analytic philosophy, aesthetics, and media theory. He was a member of the Academic Senate and Chair of the Central Committee for Curriculum Planning at the University of Vienna from 2005 to 2010. For further details, see http://hrachovec.philo.at 2.3.1. Possibilities and Contradictions in HTML: The Case of the University of Vienna’s Unibrennt Platform A crucial, yet often neglected, difference between visibilities is at the core of the WWW. Browsers render HTML code for general public use. They are fed sequences of semi-comprehensible ASCII signs and produce multimedia web pages. A site's underlying HTML version is no secret, but its visibility (and comprehensibility) is one step removed from ordinary perception. Pronouncements carried by a web site can be contradicted by the underlying code. Mischievous collections of passwords are an obvious example, but there are more refined and theoretically interesting cases of contradictions between the appearance of a site and its "conditions of possibility". One instructive example is the popular web page of a student's protest movement at Vienna University in autumn 2009. Its appeal against neo-liberal, globalized edu-business stands in marked contrast to what is revealed by the HTML input.


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2.4. KRISTIN SORENSEN Kristin Sorensen (PhD, Indiana University, USA) is Associate Professor of Global Studies at Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts. Her research investigates the manner in which cultural identities, historical memories, and their associated traumas circulate through the media and public culture in contemporary Latin America. Her book, Media, Memory, and Human Rights in Chile, was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2009 and is forthcoming in Spanish by RiL Editores. Dr. Sorensen has published articles in the Journal of Human Rights, Cuadernos de Información, Peace & Change, and SECOLAS Annals. She has also contributed chapters to the following edited books: Democracy in Chile: The Legacy of September 11, 1973, Global Memoryscapes: Contesting Remembrance in a Transnational Age, and The 1980s: A Critical and Transitional Decade. 2.4.1. New Media and Social Change in Chile In recent years, new technologies and new forms of social media have taken on a greater role in promoting social change in contemporary Chile. The high school and university student movement for reforms to Chile’s education system, a grassroots movement started in 2006 by young Chileans from a wide array of socio-economic class positions, which gained dramatically in numbers and visibility in 2011 and now 2012, relies heavily on social media in order to plan events, marches, sit-ins, and school take-overs, as well as to document excesses and abuses of the militarized police who confront the student protesters. While the students’ use of online media does not replace their public activism in the streets and in the schools, it has become the primary method for organizing their public actions. Since Chilean youth are most likely to feel comfortable using this media, it is no surprise that they have been the first to use is so productively for organizing and bypassing more censored mainstream media outlets. Social media is taking on a more important role in other Chilean movements as well, including opposition to the development of massive hydroelectric power plants in southern Chile, the activism of Mapuche and other indigenous groups, and the struggle for more visibility and equal rights for members of the LGBTQ community in Chile. Nonetheless, access to this media is still limited and problematic for many Chileans. 2.4.2. References Gordon, N., & Sorensen, K. (2012). Jamaica and Chile Online: Accessing and Using the Internet in a Developing World Context. In P. Hope Cheong, J.N. Martin and L.P. Macfadyen (Eds), New Media and Intercultural Communication: Identity, Community and Politics (pp. 275-289). New York: Peter Lange. Howard, P.N., & Parks, M. R. (2012) Social Media and Political Change: Capacity, Constraint, and Consequence. Journal of Communication, 62(2), 359-362. Nisbet, E.C., Stoycheff, E., & Pearce, K.E. (2012). Internet Use and Democratic Demands: A Multinational, Multilevel Model of Internet Use and Citizen Attitudes about Democracy. Journal of Communication, 62(2), 249-265. Valenzuela, S., Arriagada, A., & Scherman, A. (2012). The Social Media Basis of Youth Protest Behavior: The Case of Chile. Journal of Communication, 62(2), 299-314.


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2.5. MAJA VAN DER VELDEN Maja van der Velden (PhD, University of Bergen, Norway) is a Researcher and Lecturer at the Department of Informatics at the University of Oslo, Norway. She is currently investigating the relationship between human autonomy and automation, including the way patient privacy is negotiated on social media and continues her ongoing exploration of the relations between information technology and the diversity of knowledge. For further details, see http://www.mn.uio.no/ifi/english/people/aca/majava. 2.5.1. Making the Invisible Visible “Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the Sum of all Human knowledge.” Jimmy Wales – Wikipedia founder (Oslo, April 23, 2012) Also in the Third Age of Internet and Internet Studies (Wellman, 2011), research focuses mainly on the users, use, and content. Web 2.0 platforms, the technologies underlying blogs, social networks, wikis, etc., are ignored in these studies. The lack of attention to platforms (Bogust & Montfort, 2009) makes the agency of technology invisible (van der Velden, 2007). These platforms establish the channels and perform the connections through which information circulates (Langlois et al, 2009). Take the case of Wikipedia, the largest collection of user-generated online content and one of the most popular Internet site, with 460 million visitors a month. Wikipedia has decentered (Cunningham & Williams, 1993) the authoring of knowledge but has a centralised platform with protocols and templates that define, order, and circulate knowledge. This platform is based on the values of a print culture with its focus on details, rational analysis, and linear storytelling (St. Clair 2000). The human knowledge that doesn’t fit the Wikipedia platform becomes invisible, is marginalised, or diasporized (Olson & Ward, 1997). By including the platforms, softwares, codes, protocols, standards, and templates in our Internet studies – the way they shape users, use, and content, and at the same time are shaped by them – we can make visible what has become invisible. 2.5.2. References Bogust, I & N. Montfort (2009). Platform Studies: Frequently Questioned Answers. In Proceedings of the Digital Arts and Culture Conference, 2009. Irivine: University of California, Dec. 12-15, 2009. Retrieved April 23, 2012 from http://escholarship.org/uc/item/01r0k9br.pdf Cunningham, A., & Williams, P. (1993). De-centring the “Big Picture”: The Origins of Modern Science and the Modern Origins of Science. British journal for the history of science, 26(4), 407–432. Langlois, G., McKelvey, F., Elmer, G., & Werbin. K. (2009). Mapping Commercial Web 2.0 Worlds: Towards a New Critical Ontogenesis. FibreCulture, 14. Retrieved April 23, 2012 from http://fourteen.fibreculturejournal.org/fcj-095-mapping-commercial-web-2-0-worldstowards-a-new-critical-ontogenesis/ Olson. H., & Ward, D. B. (1997). Ghettoes and diaspora in classification: Communicating across limits. In B. Frohmann (Ed), Communication and Information in Context: Society,


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Technology and the Professions (pp. 19-31). Proceedings of the 25th Annual Conference of the Canadian Association for Information Science. St. Clair, R. (2000). Visual Metaphor, Cultural Knowledge, and the New Rhetoric. In J. Reyhner, J. Martin, L. Lockard, and W. Sakiestewa Gilbert (Eds), Learn in Beauty: Indigenous Education for a New Century (pp. 85-101). Flagstaff, Arizona: Northern Arizona University. van der Velden, M. (2007). Invisibility and the Ethics of Digitalization: Designing so as not to Hurt Others. In S. Hongladarom & C. Ess (Eds), Information Technology Ethics: Cultural Perspectives (pp. 81-93). London: Idea Group Reference. Wellman, B. (2011). Studying the Internet through the ages. In M. Consalvo and C. Ess (Eds), The Blackwell Handbook of Internet Studies (pp. 17-23), Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

References Cheong, P., Martin, J., & Macfadyen, L. P. (Eds.). (2012). New Media and Intercultural Communication: Identity, Community and Politics. New York: Peter Lang. Wellman, B. (2011). Studying the Internet through the ages. In M. Consalvo & C. Ess (Eds.), The Blackwell Handbook of Internet Studies (pp.17â&#x20AC;&#x201C;23). Oxford, United Kingdom: WileyBlackwell.


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AUTHOR INDEX

AUTHOR INDEX Abdelnour-Nocera, Jose, 410 Adelsberger, Heimo, 105 Agderal-Hjermind, Annette, 383 Agosti, Matteo, 51 Al-Saggaf, Yeslam, 1 Alayed, Fahad, 100 Alstam, Kristina, 304 Ariffin, Shamsul Arrieya, 135 Austin, Ann, 410 Birkland, Johanna L.H., 193 Blignaut, Anita Seugnet, 228 Bradshaw, Vanessa, 270 Brady, Danielle, 372 Buehler, Erin, 100 Burk, Dan L., 469 Cheng, Yuk Wing, 146 Cockton, Gilbert, 121 Costello, Leesa, 270, 359 Cox, Geoff, 16 Dahan, Michael, 25 De Troyer, Olga, 84 Dolezal, Jake, 67 Dyson, Laurel Evelyn, 135 El-Qirem, Fuad Ali, 121 Epstein, Serena, 100 Feltrero-Oreja, Roberto, 174 García Cruz, Juan Carlos, 174 Gong, Wen, 420 Green, Lelia, 187, 270, 359, 372, 514 Gunderson, Lee, 319 Hernwall, Patrik, 38 Herring, Susan, 430 Holloway, Donell, 372 Hrachovec, Herbert, 187 Iitaka, Toshikazu, 244 Jensen, Kasper, 454 Johns, Mark D., 333 Joshi, Karuna, 493 Kaarst-Brown, Michelle L., 67, 193 Kampf, Constance, 16 Knight, Julia, 446

Komlodi, Anita, 100, 493 Kreps, David, 212 Lazos-Ramírez, Luz, 174 Lee, Catherine, 146 Lindström, Berner, 393 Macfadyen, Leah P., 187 Machá ková, Hana, 502 Massa, Paolo, 344 Masoumi, Davoud, 393 Michaelides, Mario, 410 Modi, Sunila, 410 Mushtaha, Abdalghani, 84 Nakada, Makoto, 478 Nordeman, Levien, 259 Oyugi, Cecilia, 410 Paolini, Paolo, 51 Parisien, Matthew, 319 Postma, Louise, 228 Ramirez de la Piscina, Txema, 284 Reeder, Kenneth, 319 Richter, Thomas, 105 Rodil, Kasper, 454 Rueda-Romero, Xenia, 174 Sabiescu, Amalia Georgiana, 51 Sellei, Beatrix, 493 Šerek, Jan, 502 Šev íková, Anna, 502 Siibak, Andra, 38 Sorensen, Kristin, 187 Sudweeks, Fay, 146 Sutinen, Errki Alan, 228 Swan, Karen, 228 Todorova, Dessislava, 163 van der Velden, Maja, 187, 199 Visser, Eva, 259 Wang, Jieyu, 493 Weaver, Kathleen E., 493 Winschiers-Theophilus, Heike. 454 Witney, Cynthia, Edith, 270 Zelenkauskaite, Asta, 344 Zhang, Guo, 430

CATaC 2012 Proceedings: Part 1  

Proceedings of the eighth international conference on Cultural Attitudes Towards Technology and Communication, June 18-20, Aarhus, Denmark

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