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Page history last edited by david.jacques@... 15 years, 3 months ago






Allowing structuring online information by User ID, Date and Time and Content Summary bridges cultural differences in managing online contents.


Cultural Context

Balances Collectivist and Individualistic Community Orientation and Equal and Hierarchical Authority Orientation, Polychronic and Monochronic Time Orientation, High and Low Contextual Communication Orientation and Differences in Technology Orientation of collaborating cultures.


This pattern was observed to be successful in Hong Kong/Korean, Taiwanese, Austrian and US-American contexts. It might be considered an universal solution.



The distributed local teams manage design representations, ideas and concepts using ANNOTATED DESIGN GALLERY which is integrated into the INTERNATIONAL HOME. The gallery space collects multiple design artefacts like visual representations or textual documents in one shared online place. Asynchronous messages are exchanged in SLOW THINKING.



Content needs a structure to facilitate discovery of patterns or changes in the information shared online. However, culturally diverse users might have different questions that guide them to search, navigate or organize and information space. This might lead to breakdowns in intercultural collaboration.



How do you create a content structure that accommodates to multiple culturally diverse groups?



Cultures show differences in the preferences in structuring information contents. Polychronic Time Orientation and High Contextual Communication Orientation cultures might prefer to organize contents by subject matter categories that allow relating different design representations by the content summary. The time an artefact was created might be less important than the content itself or creator of the content. However, for Monochronic Time Orientation cultures the actual time a representation was shared online might have a higher value in structuring information contents. On the other hand, Hierarchical Authority Orientation cultures might want to know who created the artefact in order to arrange the design representations. The need to organize contents may also vary in different stages of the project. If there is only one dimension according to which online contents are structured (i.e. time and date, creator or subject matter), cultures that rather prefer to structure information by other categories might feel less comfortable or even confused using the online space.



Give culturally diverse users the ability to manage contents according to at least three criteria 1 User ID, 2 Date and Time, and 3 Content Summary.

Those categories can give answers to following questions:

  • Who is the originator of this content?
  • If members need to know who created, uploaded, or posted a certain object stored in the INTERNATIONAL HOME can view or search the contents according to the names of the members of the global team.
  • When was the content created?
  • If collaborators want to know the time and date contents were created, uploaded or modified, they can structure the data accordingly.
  • What is the subject matter?


Furthermore, collaborators can structure and organize contents according to their individual criteria (i.e. types of subject matters that are unique to the project like “model” or “packaging”) and build groups of contents that might represent a design solution space or a problem area that consists of various formats, and dates or members who created it.

Allow for a balance of technology predetermined criteria and user determined categories to structure information contents in an online environment.



These multiple and customizable information structure categories support the needs of diverse cultures to manage contents in an online environment. Being able to structure contents according to culturally varying concepts promotes equality among distributed teams because there is no preference embedded in the technology as such. Structuring information content is left to the individual users needs and preferences. Moreover, shared understanding about content areas that need more attention is gained through negotiating a custom content structure. Cultures that are less comfortable with technology controlled contents experience more freedom in navigating through the information space by structuring and monitoring contents according to their own criteria. Technology is under control of the user.


While High Contextual Communication Orientation cultures are comfortable with complex information architectures to monitor and get a feeling of the entire activity space, Low Contextual Communication Orientation cultures can chose and view activity in explicit categories to reduce the information complexity.


Resulting Context

Using the pattern WHO WHEN WHAT results in the creation of a dynamic and customizable online space that allows users to organize information content according to their personal criteria.


Related Work

Research into interaction design patterns has looked into how various information contents can be displayed to achieve optimal usability (Tidwell, 1997), (van Welie, 2006), (van Duyne et al., 2002). However, the author was not able to find research that reports about cultural preferences of information search, order and display.


<-- Design Patterns Network


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