Edward Hall’s Context Prism

In search of more prisms that I can examine BRIC countries through (Gaurav blogged about Geert Hofstede, which gave us some interesting data points), I came across Edward Hall’s high- and low- context analysis.

Other sites already cover Hall’s theory pretty well, but basically he differentiated cultures based on an idea that some had high-context communication and others had low-context communication.

Scandinavians, for example, have low-context communications.  You can walk into any conversation with them and their dialogue will contain very direct messages that are self-encapsulated and contain most of the information you would need to make sense of it.

There are codified norms within the society that make the conversation rules-based and less personal.  It comes off as very direct and to the point. Read More »

Danah Boyd on Social Networking and Values

Danah Boyd, a digital ethnographer who was recently hired by Microsoft Research New England to study online social networks, posted a much-publicized essay last year about how she perceived there to be class divisions between the userbases of Facebook and Myspace.  This essay was entitled “Viewing American class divisions through Facebook and MySpace”.

Since part of my research is about whether different cultures and countries will use the internet differently, based on their values, rituals, and customs, it would be important for me to make sure that there indeed is a potential for people to express those key differences by selecting a different social networking site online versus others.  Some would argue that behavior online is converging on universal behavior (generally:  feedback loops, transparency, collaboration), but I think cultures will retain their identities even after buying into the online revolution. Read More »