Cross Cultural Digital Environments
Hideyuki Nakanishi (Kyoto Univ.), Masayuki Okamoto (Kyoto Univ.),
Katherine Isbister (NTT)
Global computer network enables us to overcome geographical limitations
to communicate. We can meet people who have different cultural backgrounds
in digital environments. In this project, we aim to construct a digital
environment that can mediate cross-cultural differences. To do this, built-in
cultural knowledge is necessary. The human interface is also important
to help users with cultural knowledge. We develop a digital environment
that has new features in these two points, and conduct cross-cultural experiments
on a international dedicated line. This project forms a part of
the joint research of Kyoto University, Stanford University
and NTT Communication Science Laboratories.
This project consists of two subgroups below.
Helper Character for a Virtual Meeting-Place
We will develop a embodied character that acts in a three-dimensional
meetings space. It is difficult to begin talking if users have different
cultural backgrounds. The helper character provides them some common topics
to encourage them to begin small talk. We collected topics from Japanese
and US undergraduate students. We categorized these topics to make conversation
data of the character. Figure 4
shows a three-dimensional meeting space where the character is asking a
user. This system runs on a personal computer.
Figure4: Helper Character
Networked Topic-Sharing Mirror
When people of different countries collaborate, it is important to know
each other to do the remote collaboration smoothly. The system overlays
video images of two separated groups on a large screen, and shows personal
information, such as name, cultural information (e.g. nationality, language),
and information about the collaboration (e.g. period, skill) in both languages.
The user can change a displayed information by touching the menu on the
We conducted social psychological experiment to test the effectiveness
of the helper character in May, 1999 with using the GEMnet's
international dedicated line between Japan and US. This experiment
couldn't be done without the help of Professor Clifford Nass, Eva
Jemitter and many research assistants in Stanford Univeristy.
And also we had an experiment to use Networked Topic-Sharing Mirror,
to see how this system contributes to cross-cultural communication,
and the differences of usages in different cultures. Stanford Japan
Center cooperated on this experiment.