Communicating in designing an oral repository for rural African villages
Bidwell, Nicola J.
Siya, Masbulele Jay
Tucker, William David
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We describe designing an asynchronous, oral repository and sharing system that we intend to suit the needs and practices of rural residents in South Africa. We aim to enable users without access to personal computers to record, store, and share information within their Xhosa community using cellphones and a tablet PC combined with their existing face-to-face oral practices. Our approach recognises that systems are more likely to be effective if the design concept and process build on existing local communication practices as well as addressing local constraints, e.g. cost. Thus, we show how the objectives for the system emerged from prolonged research locally and how we communicated insights, situated in the community, into the process of design and development in a city-based lab. We discuss how we integrated understandings about communication between situated- and localresearchers and designers and developers and note the importance of recognising and centralising subtle differences in our perception of acts of oral communication. We go on to show how the materiality of the software, the tablet form factor, and touch interaction style played into our collaborative effort in conceiving the design.