13 February 2007

Anne Kirah: “When culture meets technology and when technology meets culture”

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Anne Kirah
Anne Kirah, until recently Senior Design Anthropologist at the Microsoft Corporation, spoke recently about her experience in developing software user interfaces that are based on local cultural conditions.

The 50 minute talk, which can be seen in video stream, was held on 30 January at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.

Using multiple case studies from global ethnographic field research and participatory design in 12 countries, we find the level of technological adoption as a mitigating factor in determining what types of social software are being used and how they are being used. On the other hand, culture and social context mitigates what is successful and what is not on the social front. A key take away from field research and participatory design is that software takes on its own life based on the cultural and social contexts of everyday life. At the same time, global trends are developing based on the level of technological adoption. Understanding the interplay between technology and culture through deep understanding of peoples’ motivations and aspirations, as well as understanding how technological adoption pushes the envelope, will help us build software that is useful, culturally relevant and desirable.

Anne Kirah
Until recently, Anne Kirah served as a senior design anthropologist for the Microsoft Corporation. Kirah was responsible for global field research and participatory design.Kirah’s primary focus is on future product innovation, people centered research and strategic direction. She recently won the award for MSN Contributor of the Year. Kirah left her job at Microsoft to become the dean and faculty member of 180º Academy, a new global innovation school created by a consortium of Danish and international industry leaders. She is a partner in a small consulting company focused on introducing radical innovation processes in to companies wanting to approach the rapidly paced and global world we live in.

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