When HCI shapes culture…

Jeff”s presentation in this week makes me think more about the new media and HCI.

I have heard the concept “cyborg” before. It contributes to many discussion on cultural issues, such as postmodernism and feminism. The fashion show video played in the end of Thursday’s class reminded me of this idea. To me, the avatars in the show are real people in real life. It seems they are not “be created”, they are alive with own characteristics and styles. On the contrary, we, the real people, are like robots. We save our memories in computer drives; we are defined by the technologies we use; we cannot live without them. As to the blurring between virtual life and real life, the world we live is just one of the windows of computers.

I do believe HCI creates cultures. But I also wonder if culture shapes HCI. If HCI designers have the responsibilities of considering “creating culture” in their mind, they are affected by their lifeworlds, horizons and experiences inevitably. I understand the main idea of AMM is a presentation of structuralism, caring about the material and its language. But maybe I still misunderstand the true meaning of structuralism, I think the language of a medium or an interface are derived from human culture.

I also wonder if it is dangerous that HCI design creates culture. When HCI designers do their work, they use the strategies, habitus and sensibility. They go into the network and participate in. Then, they design something which might shape the culture. How do they know in which way the design would influence on the culture? Does the designer of Second life know in advance that there will be an interesting presentation from Jeff about virtual fashion? Does the developer of cyberspace know we and avatars are more like each other? Culture cannot be defined by goodness and badness, but it seems to be a great pressure on HCI when it shapes culture.

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