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HCI Platform: collection:

Using Technology to Navigate Foreign Lands and Cultures (2020)

Curators: Rachel Sparrow, Sandra Dekoum, and Sam Schaust | University of Minnesota | June 2020

Collection Editor: Isabel Pedersen
Acquisitions Editor: Ann Hill Duin
Collection Archivist: Sharon Caldwell

Closely-related Fabric Collections: 
What Language Sounds Like: Wearable Devices in Translation Communication (2019)Fostering a Culture of Transcreation for Improving Mistranslation and Miscommunication (2020)

Adapting to new cultures and languages can be uniquely challenging. The customs that surround all interactions—from greetings to ordering food—are not universally the same country to country, or even between provinces or states within a country. Before any trip abroad, it is important to prepare for the cultural expectations of the land being visited; however, with the advent of the digital age, travelers have a variety of tools at their disposal. These tools can provide insights into a culture unknown to the visitor and, hopefully, allow them to avoid any misunderstandings.

This collection explores ways in which technology bridges gaps that exist between individuals who don’t share a common cultural background or spoken language. We choose artifacts to identify new applications available to those who are traversing foreign lands. The artifacts provide a means to analyze educational, social, and global perspectives surrounding these technologies with the goal of connecting international communities in deeper and more meaningful ways. One project, in particular, Design Across Cultures program of the Digital Society School helps us reflect on intercultural communication. It describes how team members "wanted to explore how to use a creative and innovative storytelling technique like virtual reality to think about the digital society from a cross-cultural perspective." We were also intrigued by the use of augmented reality for Pokemon Go that contributed to tourism around the globe and to intercultural interaction.  

Central to the theme of this collection is the idea that one’s preparedness for foreign travel can be facilitated through a variety of recent technological innovations. Everything from conversations with hotel staff to on-the-street navigation can be streamlined without the need of learning a new language in both its spoken and written forms. 

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