Ramya Mahalingam: “The Subtle Influence of Cultural Relativism”

October 4, 2017

Cultural relativism is the understanding that a person’s behaviors and activities should be interpreted in the context of their own culture. We rely heavily on this principle to understand user groups in order to design digital systems for them. Our current models for understanding and quantifying cultural relativism are on the international scale; we see Americans as a group distinct from Japanese, who are again distinct from British. However, this may not be enough. The current socio-political climate in America demonstrates that the cultural influences even within a nation might be misunderstood. This talk will explore some of the current frameworks we have to understand culture, and propose ways to better work them into our design practices.

Ramya Mahalingam is a UX Architect at Cardinal Solutions with a background in physical product design. She is also the Co-founder and Creative Director of Charlotte Storytellers. She believes that the human experience is thriving, chaotic, messy, and weird. Designing for it isn’t about achieving a goal, but about understanding how the stories of humans and products intersect. She also believes that puns are basically the best thing ever.