• Value map used in
familiar with the users’ cultural
context. Unlike cultural dimensions, value maps are based on
fieldwork in the context of use,
focus on technology, and are not
limited to any predefined set of values. As such, they can provide more
accurate representations of value
for design purposes.
As a researcher, I found doing
user research in Tanzania both a
challenging and rewarding experience that provided many insights
into interaction design. In a similar
way, when looking at a future of HCI
that appears more cross-cultural
than ever, one can see many problems but also plenty of opportunities. Learning how culture affects
what matters to people helps
designers better understand their
users. At the same time, it can challenge designers’ own beliefs about
what technology is for and how it
should be designed.
March + April 2012
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Researching Selves and Others. Routledge, New
5. Cockton, G. Designing worth is worth designing.
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12, 34 (2000), 327-345.
and question the ethnocentric views
of the designer, there was a conscious focus on value [ 5] in the user
research. I studied the positive and
negative value the local students
associated with mobile phones
mainly through interviews, supported by observations about how
mobile phones were presented and
discussed in the local newspapers
and on operator websites.
In interaction design, designers
need to understand what the users
value, but they also have to convey
that understanding to developers
and other stakeholders, many of
whom may never have experienced
the field. In addition, user requirements or needs alone may not be
enough to convince stakeholders
who are not familiar with the background behind the needs [ 6]. Thus,
there is a need for value representations that show what is important to
users and why.
In this project, I used a value
map (shown here) that illustrates
both the benefits and drawbacks of
mobile phones as seen by univer-
sity students in Tanzania. Pros and
cons were often two sides of the
same coin: For example, students
saw the reachability provided by
mobile phones as a positive thing
because it allowed them to stay
informed about family matters at
all times, but they also saw it as
a negative thing because it dis-
tracted them from their studies.
The positive and negative values in
value maps were supplemented by
contextual factors that explained
why users found particular issues
relevant. In the case of Tanzanian
students, the positive value of
mobile phones was highlighted
by the significance of family and
relatives as their main support
network, the fact that students
were often studying far from their
families and were able to visit them
only between the school years,
and the way in which informa-
tion at the university was spread
through personal communication.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Minna Kamppuri is a postdoctoral
researcher in the School of
Computing at the University of
Eastern Finland. Her research
concerns cross-cultural design
and inclusive design.
© 2012 ACM 1072-5220/12/03 $10.00