Sunday, August 12, 2012

Lab in the Wild Asks: What’s Your Internet Like?

Harvard University (08/06/12) Michael Patrick Rutter 

Harvard University researchers recently launched the Lab in the Wild, which uses an ongoing series of voluntary tests to find information about different users' online culture. The tests provide instant feedback, so users can see how they are similar or different from other groups of users in different parts of the world. "We are seeking to answer questions like: How does your cultural background influence how you perceive and process information? Which types of Web sites do you find most appealing, trustworthy, and intuitive?" says Harvard's Krzysztof Gajos. The Lab in the Wild is designed to understand how people around the world differ in the way they think, perceive information, and use technology. For example, University of Zurich researchers have found that differences exist in the way cultural groups want to use calendar management tools. They found that in countries that are believed to have more collectivist and group-oriented cultures, study participants were more likely to mutually agree on specific dates as opposed to those in more individualistic societies. "To create truly responsive, intelligent designs that won’t get lost in translation, so to speak, it’s important that we gather input from a global audience," says Harvard's Katharina Reinecke.