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We had the opportunity to interview Gary Marsden at MobileActive08 in Johannesburg. Gary is associate professor at the Department of Computer Science, University of Cape Town.

In the interview he talks about internationalization of user interfaces. While working in Africa he made the experience that translating text into local language and changing icons is not sufficient. There are other issues that people from non-western cultures have with computing interfaces. For example many of them have difficulties understanding hierarchies. Gary describes his approach to address these issues, which he calls Empowered Design. The idea of this approach is to create technology that allows people in Africa to create their own applications, rather than having researchers dictating which applications people in Africa should have.

Gary also introduces briefly some projects to illustrate his approach to mobile interaction design in Africa. One of the applications he mentions is Big Board - a public display that allows people to download media for free - which he also presented at the MobileActive08 conference.

Anyone who's interested in this topic, should also check out his book on Mobile Interaction Design (that he wrote together with Matt Jones) and his on Empowered Design.

Interview with Gary Marsden

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