The Sociology of Interfaces

Korean and Finnish university researchers have conducted a new study into how cultural differences influence computer interface requirements, focusing on how Korean, Japanese, and Finnish people responded to different mobile data services and how those responses matched cultural aspects. The researchers designed their survey to rank people’s responses in four basic cultural dimensions: Uncertainty avoidance, or the effort people take to maintain predictability; context, or the amount of information needed to fully understand something; individualism vs. collectivism; and the proclivity to multitask.

The teams from Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea, and the University of Helsinki created 12 video clips of people in Japan, Korea, and Finland engaging in different mobile data services tasks. Different people from each of those countries were asked their opinions about the mobile data services, and then the responses were used to identify 52 main attributes of mobile data services, including speed, screen size, and line spacing.

When matched against the cultural dimensions, the researchers found Koreans to be more collectivist than the Japanese and Finns; Koreans preferred to know the most popular ringtone downloads, whereas the Japanese and Finns sought out ringtones that pleased themselves, for instance. Koreans and the Japanese shared other characteristics, such as avoiding uncertainty and requiring high context, but all the groups said streamlined processes were important. Read the full article here.

[via ACM News]

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