'She looked deep into our eyes': reflections on cross-cultural practice in rural Africa

Thomas Reitmaier
2011 Knowledge Management for Development Journal  
This paper shows the development of a mobile digital storytelling system that suits the needs and functions of rural African communities. But rather than focusing solely on the artefact and how it was designed, I also present an account of the ideas and perspectives I took, and how these changed in the course of practice. I uncover the slow process of discovering that cross-cultural practice is not only about understanding users or prototyping ideas in a detached fashion, but explore how in the
more » ... course of practice pre-existing notions embedded in ourselves and in our culture are 'unconcealed'. It is a learning process in which we learn about users in relation to ourselves. The prototype was tested in Adiedo, Kenya. Design brief Flexibility and mobility are the two key properties to how our mobile digital storytelling system (shown in Figure 3 ) accommodates the unique context of rural African communities. These properties allow users and storytellers to distribute storytelling activities across time, people, and places, in addition to allowing people to draw upon their context -their physical and social surroundings -in telling their stories. In rural African communities, it is the context in which people live and meet and in which activities take place, more than the photos of digital stories, that inspire storylines. Digital storytelling in such contexts is about supporting social and oral practices and emergent storylines, rather than just providing a means to synchronize photos to audio. *
doi:10.1080/19474199.2011.649011 fatcat:eu2gbln57nexdfvrfa7jnelhfq