Designing for the cultural "other" - A global perspective on ICT and illiteracy
The process of globalization is opening new windows for Danish initiatives. The requirement for innovation and development of new areas as a consequence of the globalization will lead to radical changes and the IT businesses need to take active part in the development. But in order to understand and explain the globalization process we also have to understand the limitations. One such limitation is found in the global digitalization of information- and communication processes. This global development requires, from the world citizens, literacy in use of computers. The majority of the world populations are illiterates, they are not only technical illiterates but also illiterates in the traditional sense: they cannot read and write, however, the global ICT development largely disregards the problem with illiteracy and cultural differences. It seems that a future area of growth for the Danish IT business with their specific competencies may be to strengthen the user oriented and interdisciplinary approaches to design and development of ICT applications - targeted to specific cultural groups and the illiterates - in developing countries and also to large groups of immigrants in the developed world. India is an example of the global structural changes. India has developed an impressive ICT industry and has a very high level of expertise in software engineering. India’s government has a vision for e-democracy and have implemented e-government systems, which also address the rural populations. But the Indian population is very large and the potential users are highly diverse groups of which many are illiterate. Denmark has an IT industry that supplements India’s, e.g. a strong expertise in e-government, and ICT for the agriculture. Denmark has a long tradition for cooperation between IT developers, researchers and users and is strong in interdisciplinary approaches to development and design of ICT applications. Denmark also has a tradition for a human centred design, and usability is seen as a competitive factor. In India usability is on the agenda in only few IT companies, and it is also new to the academic world (Pradeep Y. 2004). Copenhagen Business School, department of Informatics has for the last 18 months been involved in the establishment of a Euro-India Centre. The departments research group on human-computer interaction(HCI) has prioritized HCI work in the Asian world for the last 4 years (Clemmensen 2004, Nielsen Janni 2004, Nielsen, Clemmensen and Yssing 2002, Levinsen, K. 2002, Nielsen, Lene and Gregers Koch 2003). The wish for a collaborative network has come about as a result of meetings and discussions between researchers from especially India and Denmark and also from Great Britain and Sweden. The first Indian conference on HCI in December 2004 and the initiative from CBS, department of Informatics in May 2005 where an Indian – European workshop was held, created the basis for this network application.
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