The meaning of religion, culture and HCI

Eight friends ate and played together in the evening on Friday after Pumpkin Carving. All the chatting remains on the same theme: the meaning.

The conversation began from Dalai Lama. I found that I almost know nothing about him except that he is a Chinese, got a Noble peace prize and there are several Tibetan restaurant in Bloomington. And in that evening, they told me that he has his philosophy, and wrote a very popular book which was popular all over the world except China and it is forbid.  Someone told me that:” you could feel you connected with the natural and whole world very peacefully, and forget yourself in the moment when all of those Lama begin to  chant sutras together”. I don’t know if I could feel that moment or not.

Another friend began to teach us about Christian because he is a Christian and all the others are not. He asked us some questions which I believe that he doesn’t know the answers neither. For example: don’t you think that there is the heaven? I really don’t know.

I asked them :”Dn’t you think all the Chinese believe Buddhism since thousands years ago?” I know I am totally wrong especially when someone mentioned minorities. They have their own God.

One person said that he comes from a literary family, so his family believes no God but science. Another one said her family believes no God too. She said, her family only show respect to her family ancestors when the most other Chinese were showing their respect to those Buddhism gods. But, they believe that their ancestors could know they were missing them, telling stories to them and asking helps from them in some way. What is the “some way” though? Where were they or their souls existing? This goes to the religion origin.

During the whole process, we were asking question about meaning–from a small sign to life. For example, what is the meaning of the cross sign? Which religion’s sign has Jesus, and which hasn’t? How should you treat us as a Christian? And finally,what is the meaning of  your life?

I found these religion conversations very interesting due to its relationships with culture and HCI.

We define ourselves as Chinese student and hang out together every week or every several days, and suddenly we found our huge difference regarding our believes.  How much does religion matter in HCI??? Does it only matter when the design will be used in Church or other religion place or for religion ceremonies?

I chatted with an Indian guy in a job fair half year ago. When we talked about why google was not the No.1 search engine in China, I said that maybe google just need another different Chinese name instead of using it’s pronunciation in Chinese language. How many people tend to think about which country the company belongs to before they open a webpage to search? I don’t know. But I think it is unbelievable if people consciously consider this. But why Chinese use Baidu more often than others? I believe that it is the name origins from Chinese (one sentence of a poem), and therefore it is easy to remember and type in.

I am not sure how much culture matters in HCI, but I am sure it really matters. Especially if we want to design ensouled artifacts.

I remember that Jeff showed us the short vedio about Spring Festival decorations and activities in World of War Craft in February.  He said he thought it was nice to see this happened in the game world. I thought that it has special meaning to us only because of the connection between us and the culture. And of course, the meaning differs according the strongness of the connection. This back to the religion issues. We respect other religions, but not necessarily believe them or reject them. I guess in HCI, it is not about respect or others, it is about how to show the connections, get our emotions resonated.

Well, thank you for reading to the end. This post is not well organized. It is just a flow of my thought, begins from a chatting evening, goes through whatever I could think of, and end at my brain stopped working. After writing this, I thought maybe this could be a pre-writing exercise,  right?

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