, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 165-185

Supporting cross-cultural communication with a large-screen system

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Abstract

As opportunities for international collaboration and crosscultural communication among people from heterogeneous cultures increase, the importance of electronic communication support is increasing. To support cross-cultural communication, we believe it is necessary to offer environments in which participants enjoy conversations, which allow them to share one another’s background and profile visually.

We believe that the following three functions are important: (1) showing topics based on participants’ profiles and cultural background; (2) lifesized, large-screen interface; and, (3) displaying objects which show feelings of identify. In this paper, we discuss the implementation and the empirical evaluation of two systems that were designed to support cross-cultural communication in the real world or between remote locations.

From the empirical evaluation of these systems, we conclude that these systems add new functionality to support conversation contents, which may be especially useful in a cross-cultural context where language skills are an issue, and this type of environment may be especially useful in a pre-collaboration context.

Masayuki Okamoto: He is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Social Informatics at Kyoto University. He received his bachelor’s degree in Engineering and master’s degree in Informatics from Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan, in 1998 and 1999, respectively. His research interests include community computing and social agents.
Katherine Isbister, Ph.D.: She is currently Director of Interaction Design at Finali Corporation, in San Francisco. She received her Ph.D. from Stanford University’s Communication Department with a speciality in the application of social psychological principles to interactive agent design. She held a one-year postdoctoral position in Japan, where she conducted research in collaboration with Kyoto University and Stanford University, investigating applications of interactive agents to the support of human-human communication. She is currently working on the design of a webbased customer assistance agent.
Hideyuki Nakanishi, Ph.D.: He is a Research Associate in Department of Social Informatics at Kyoto University. He obtained his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in Information Science from Kyoto University in 1996 and 1998, respectively, and his Ph.D. in Informatics from Kyoto University in 2001. His research interest is in Social Interactive Media, e.g. Social Agents and Virtual Environments.
Toru Ishida, Dr. Eng.: He received the B.E., M.Eng. and D. Eng. degrees from Kyoto University, Kyoto Japan, in 1976, 1978 and 1989, respectively. He is currently a professor of Department of Social Informatics, Kyoto University, Japan. From 1978 to 1993, He was a research scientist of NTT Laboratories. He was also a visiting research scientist at the Department of Computer Science, Columbia University, an invited professor at Le Laboratoire d’Informatique de Paris 6 (LIP6), Pierre et Marie Curie, a guest professor, Institut für Informatik, Technische Universität München. He has been working on community computing from 1995, and edited two books: community computing: collaboration over global information networks (John Wiley and Sons, 1998), and community computing and support systems (Springer-Verlag, 1998). He is currently working on digital cities: experiences, technologies and future perspectives (Springer, 2000) and initiated Digital City Kyoto with his colleagues.