Cultural Bias

Using Computers to Teach Children Without Teachers

Johnathan, F . (2010). “Using computers to teach children with no teachers” BBC News. Retrieved on 21 July, 2010: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-10663353?print=true Summary of the article: The article summarizes studies conducted by Prof Mitra on the learning curve of children using computers for education with teachers. Results of the study prove that the teaching methods employed have been quite successful based on the fact that: Children who are not exposed to computers are highly motivated to teach themselves skills they want to learn Children have had a steep learning curve in picking up complex tasks with minimum supervision Learning by discussion and in groups ensures that content is retained and not skimmed through by children. Motivation levels of students are kept high with a grandmother figure in the picture. The best results of the study have been combined to create Self Learning Environments where children in groups of 4 share a computer to assimilate information. Virtually present volunteer grandmothers keep the student motivated and support the learning process. On Environment: The need for self-organized learning essentially arises in developing nations and the ones who do not have access to education. Children living in such conditions have a natural survival instinct, which keeps…

Be the Customer

By our very nature, humans are an “us versus them” kind of mammal. We are quick to judge and categorize: “he’s our kind’a people” or “she’s management.” We adapt and root for our favorite sports teams, sometimes even resorting to violence to “defend our guys.” We peg an art department against the engineers; we side with nurses over doctors; we fight with democrats against republicans; we wave our flags in a spirit of nationalism. And it doesn’t matter if we all work for the same company, heal the same patients, want the same basic rights, or live on a very small planet—we tend to take sides. So it’s no surprise that when product designers develop products the feeling of “us against the users” creeps up into the process. To protect the design process from these “us versus them” impulses, we can create a well-realized user personas based on the the audience taxonomy developed during the conceptual design stage of product design. For each major category in the audience taxonomy, a sample fictional user is created which embodies all of the traits in that audience category: age, profession, socio-economic background, culture and sub-culture, interests and dislikes, family status, education level, etc.…

Space-Time Changes in Cultural Variables

Some designs are timeless, some are dated. TV shows, movies, books, and even Web sites change as both technologies driving the medium change and as our sensibilities as consumers alter in time. Cultural shock is easy to spot as we move globe trot, searching for new experiences. But cultural shock is just as easy to get at home, watching old commercials and movies. As product designers, we want to find those attributes that will stand the course of time and space. The need for innovation and push to grab the most number of users makes evolutionary design less and less appealing. But it’s the “hammers” of the world that retain their value long after the newest fads have come and gone. A product that is build as an answer to a specific, human need, stands the test of space-time utility.

On “Legendary Magazine Covers Get Their Own Spread”

CNN staff. (2008). “Legendary magazine covers get their own spread.” CNN. Retrieved on April 27, 2008. http://edition.cnn.com/2008/SHOWBIZ/books/04/25/esquire.coverart.ap/index.html CNN publishes a eulogy of George Lois as his work for the Esquire magazine is going to be exhibited at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Reviewing some of the magazine covers, the journalist highlights what made the designer’s shots iconic. In this respect, two main arguments come up. First, the journalist lays an emphasis on the power of the images. Describing Muhammad Ali posing as Saint Sebastian, he shows to what degree it stroke people’s memory. In fact, in Lois’ point of view, the photograph has to make a powerful statement to push the viewer to look at the article inside. Not only did he succeed in doing that but he also stroke people’s memory to such an extent that they still remember where they first saw this cover at the time. His photographs gave polemical statements on political, cultural but also social issues and triggered heavy debate in the society. They became iconic through their simplicity of evocation and their ability to instill a tinge of provocation about contemporary issues. The Vietnam covers are telltale when it comes to affecting the…

Male Paternal Bonds

Angier, N., (2010). “Paternal Bonds, Special and Strange.” Nytimes.com. Retrieved on 20 June 2010: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/15/science/15fath.html?_r=1 An article written by, Natalie Angier in the New York Times, Paternal Bonds, Special and Strange, begins by stating how men are proudly proclaiming the number of children they have to other men. Comparisons are made between humans and other primates such as monkeys that also proudly display their infants to impress other male monkeys. It is stated that this action is done to strengthen the bonds between men. Furthermore, the article discusses multiple studies that demonstrate how male primates care for their offspring. For example, some bird species are the sole keeper of their nest. The article aims to link parental care and offspring welfare. One study claims that baby handling can demonstrate how fathers can take charge, beat the odds, and expand the nest. The studies referenced provide examples of what the author calls, “dream daddies” and males “behaving dadly”. Conceptual Design Through this study we can see that male animal primates have an instinctual response to care for and flaunt their offspring. This appears to a revolutionary breakthrough in our understanding of linking men with caring giving. The biological and innate instincts…

Dressed to Distract

Dowd, M., (2010). “Dressed to Distract.” NYTimes. Retrieved on July 1st, 2010, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/06/opinion/06dowd.html?_r=1&src=me&ref=homepage. Summary: Good looks are an advantage to any woman, man or child (and maybe even animal) in this world. Research tells us that babies will look longer at a good looking parent, and the “good looking” babies receive the same preferential treatment. The University of Alberta put together a research team to carry out a study in a supermarket to see if parents gave more attention to their more attractive children. Team leader, Dr Andrew Harrell, says that just as other animals do, “…we tend to parcel out our resources on the basis of value.” Debrahlee Lorenzana, a single mother of 33, was fired from Citibank in August for “looking too sexy”, she claims. According to her lawyer, the shape of her figure made the clothing she chose to wear too distracting for the males in her workplace. Lorenzana wasn’t like other women who chose to come to work in low-cut tops and tight pants, but because of her hourglass figure, any well tailored clothing she wore was “too distracting”. This specific case is interesting because normally the attractive people get better treatment and evaluations at work.…

Mining the Web for Feelings, Not Facts

Wright, A. (2009). “Mining the Web for Feelings, Not Facts.” The New York Times.  Retrieved on 30 June, 2010. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/24/technology/internet/24emotion.html Online presence is a valuable commodity in today’s digital market.  As companies seek to track exactly how their brand is discussed via the web and where these discussions appear, it becomes apparent that even a team of employees devoted to such research cannot tackle the shear size of the medium.  Thus, algorithms are being employed by marketing research firms as well as companies themselves to handle not only the amount of information present on the Internet, but also in what context it amasses. These algorithmic tools are applied all over the web, but are concentrated on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, as well as sites that allow large amounts of user-generated content. Theoretically, in this way a computer can track not only when a company is mentioned but also in what connotative context it appears. Differing from previous brand tracking, these new programs seek to determine subjective opinion as well as objective knowledge. By programming computers to scan the Internet for words that hold certain connotative meanings, marketers and brands can preemptively address user satisfaction issues as well as…