Designing Digital Storytelling for Rural African Communities

Reitmaier, Thomas (2011) Designing Digital Storytelling for Rural African Communities, MSc.

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Chongilala – a long time ago – says Mama Rhoda of Adiedo, Kenya. She looks deeply into our eyes. We record her rhythms and rhymes as she sings and tells a story about her grandparents. She shows us the exact spot where her great-grandfathers and his friends used to sit and drink and how her grandmother used to dance. This thesis situates digital storytelling in rural African communities to enable rural people, like Mama Rhoda, to record and share their stories and to express their imaginations digitally. We explore the role of design, and the methods and perspectives designers need to take on to design across cultures and to understand the forms and meanings behind rural African interpretations of digital storytelling. These perspectives allow us to 'unconceal' how our Western storytelling traditions have influenced design methods and obscure the voices of ‘other’ cultures. By integrating ethnographic insights with previous experiences of designing mobile digital storytelling systems, we implement a method using cell-phones to localize storytelling and involve rural users in de- sign activities – probing ways to incorporate visual and audio media in storytelling. Products from this method help us to generate design ideas for our system, most notably flexibility. Leveraging this prototype as a probe and observing villagers using it in two villages in South Africa and Kenya, we report on situated use of our prototype and discuss, and relate to usage, the insights we gathered on our prototype, the users, their needs, and their context. We use these insights to uncover further implications for situating digital storytelling within those communities and reflect on the importance of spending time in-situ when designing across cultures. Deploying our prototype through an NGO, we stage first encounters with digital storytelling and show how key insiders can introduce the system to a wider community and make it accessible through their technical and social expertise. Our mobile digital storytelling system proved to be both useable and useful and its flexibility allowed users to form their own interpretations of digital storytelling and (re)appropriate our system to alternative ends. Results indicate that our system accommodates context and that storytelling activities around our system reflect identity. Our activities in communities across Africa also show that our system can be used as a digital voice that speaks to us, by allowing users to express themselves – through digital stories – in design.

Item Type: Electronic thesis or dissertation (MSc)
Uncontrolled Keywords: ict4d, HCI, Interaction Design, Digital Storytelling, M4D, Mobile Computing, Africa
Subjects: Human-centered computing
Date Deposited: 25 Aug 2011
Last Modified: 10 Oct 2019 15:33

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