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[liberationtech] Stanford HCI Seminar 3/4, Ed Cutrell, Microsoft Research — HCI4D: Cultural learnings of India for make benefit glorious field of HCI

Yosem Companys companys at
Mon Feb 29 15:26:15 PST 2016

From: Michael Bernstein <msb at>

HCI4D: Cultural learnings of India for make benefit glorious field of HCI
Ed Cutrell, Microsoft Research

March 4, 2016, 12:30-1:30pm, Gates B01 · Open to the public
CS547 Human-Computer Interaction Seminar (Seminar on People, Computers, and

In 2010 I moved to India to begin working in what was for me a new and
exciting area of research, ICT4D (ICTs for global development). An
important thread in ICT4D research is understanding how the unique context
and constraints of developing communities affects the design and goals for
systems and technologies, and how these are taken up by end users and
beneficiaries: HCI, or what we've come to call HCI4D. Like Borat in
America, I will guide you through some fascinating experiences in India
that illustrate the importance of understanding the broader context and
motivations of the people you're working with. What are their needs and how
do we understand if our designs actually meet them? When you ask people
what they think about your work, they'll almost inevitably tell you
whatever they think you want to hear, even when it's obviously untrue. And
an easy-to-use, special purpose system for collecting health information
may be junked for a complicated phone application because users want to use
the phone for lots of *other* things. To paraphrase Field Marshall Moltke,
"No system design survives contact with users in the field", and these
issues are massively amplified in the context of HCI4D. As Gary Marsden
from University of Cape Town liked to say, HCI for developing regions isn't
a different field - it's just extreme HCI.

Ed Cutrell manages the Technology for Emerging Markets (TEM) group at
Microsoft Research India. TEM is a multidisciplinary group working to
study, design, build, and evaluate technologies and systems useful for
people living in underserved rural and urban communities. The goal of this
work is to understand how people in the world's poor and developing
communities interact with information technologies, and to invent new ways
for technology to meet their needs and aspirations. Ed has worked in the
field of human-computer interaction (HCI) since 2000; he is trained in
cognitive neuropsychology, with a PhD from the University of Oregon.
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