Digital Story Telling

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Digital Storytelling For Cross-Cultural Communication In Global Networking Patricia Search Abstract In global networking the human-computer interface is the crucial communication link between the author and the user. In website design it is important to r ecognize cultural differences and understand how the design of the computer interface can reflect the culture of a particular audience. Digital storytelling is a design technique that can reflect cultural differences and engage the user. Modern technology creates opportunities to use storytelling to inform diverse audiences about cultural differences. This paper presents research in intercultural communication theory and shows how storytelling can improve cross-cultural communication in global networking. Intercultural Communication Global networking eliminates geographic distances and facilitates communication with different cultural groups. The Internet presents an opportunity to highlight cultural differences and promote an understanding and awareness of diverse cultural perspectives. For many years researchers have recognized the role that cultural differences play in intercultural communication. More recently, researchers have recognized the significance of this research in user interface design. Cultural differences in interface design extend beyond the cultural meaning of symbols, colors, data (time, date, currency) formats, etc. User interface designs can also reflect underlying social structures that define how individuals and organizations interact and communicate with each other. The research of Edward Hall (1959, 1973, 1976), Geert Hofstede (1980), Harry Triandis (1995), and Aaron Marcus (2005) provides important background information for understanding how cultural differences impact intercultural communication in interface design. Hall, the “founder of intercultural communication,” defines three important cultural dimensions that impact interpersonal relationships and communication—time, space, and context. In Silent Language (1959, 1973) Hall describes two non-verbal aspects of intercultural communication: time (chronemics) and space (proxemics). He points out that cultures are characterized by either monochronic or polychronic time. Monochronic time is evident in Western cultures where time is perceived as a linear sequence of events with determinant connections between past, present, and future. People in these cultures prefer to focus on one task at a time. Asian, Middle Eastern, and indigenous cultures are characterized by non-linear, polychronic time which emphasizes simultaneous actions and events. Hall also identifies the role that space (proxemics) plays in defining relationships in different cultures. He points out that in addition to the formal designations of space created by physical and architectural forms, there are informal spatial relationships defined by the proximity and arrangement of objects, events, and people. These relationships determine status, relationships, and group orientation. In Beyond Culture (1976) Hall identifies context as an important cultural dimension in intercultural communication. In high-context societies (e.g., Asian and indigenous cultures), meaning is derived from the context of a particular event or situation. Messages are fluid because the interpretation depends on the current situation and personal relationships. In low-context societies (e.g., Western cultures) people rely heavily on verbal communication and messages with fixed meanings. Hofstede (1980) conducted research on intercultural communication at IBM from 1968 to 1972. In his research he created indices to rank societies according to the following five cultural dimensions: • Power Distance: the degree of equality or inequality that exists between people in a society. • Individualism: the extent to which society values individual achievement or group achievement (collectivism). • Uncertainty Avoidance: the extent to which people tolerate uncertainty or...
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