Tuesday, April 5, 2011

When culture limits design: iTunifying our thoughts and ideas

Graphic by Irfan Darian (2011)
This thought occur to me when I was preparing my learning materials for my upcoming trip in a few months time. And the irony that the most innovative nation in the world comes from a country that is not really cultured, in an Asian sort of way, did not surprised me too.

But what I would really like to uncover over here is the thought that perhaps, the culture that we were brought up in, is indeed a key limiting element of how we adopt design thinking. Could this be so? Alternatively, could the absence of such be a good way for a race or a country to be more adaptable to design thinking?

I've always wondered where are the scientific discoveries of my own race, when the other 2 major races over here are historically brimmed with technological achievements throughout their civilization. The Chinese have their thousands of years of inventions, artistic pieces, technological achievements as well as their architectural marvels. Similarly the Indians too have their rich history to thank for for showcasing their inventions and other worldly marvels. But I do find these technological marvels lacking, or sadly, almost non-existent, in my community's history. Except for perhaps a culture of artistic and related works, the other aspects are seemingly not mentioned, or perhaps if they do, are not showcased in the way that it should be showcased...publicly!

Which somehow just made me come to a conclusion. Could the culture of being humble, showing respect to even undeserving leaders, being deceitful, and other racial stereotypical characteristics be the limiter towards developing our very own design thinking? And could this be then THE thing that limits our own growth as a society, or is slowing us down? I'm not condoning that we turn our backs to our culture totally, but I thought some things would just have to be more....in tune with the times. Could we really afford to be talking about how much is an appropriate 'gift' (hantaran) to a bride, when the whole point of having that has already been clarified in a religious context. I think more than just about looking at the cultural details, could we even begin to start to question some of these practices? Perhaps not in a confrontational sort of way, but rational, logical and even with an amount of big picture/deep thinking thrown in for good measure.

In a more non-communal context, could the culture then in itself be something that we can tweak further? These culture of being accepting, of showing affirmation of successful failures, and of celebrating every single pound of success even more! And to add further, building an eco-system of sorts that would allow for such thinking to sprout and flourish? Could we then iTunify the entire process and experience? So it is no longer about having a silo system of buying, storing and playing music, but the whole experience of buying, storing, playing, seeking comments, ranking, having customised playlists and downloading music and media. If we could just iTunify these whole thinking into such a singular system, where instead of music, the commodity is now thoughts and ideas, wouldn't we then be able to move the community and society ahead? Perhaps...?

No comments: