Technology, Cultural Sensitivity & Second Life

Salt Water (moderate)

Back in the day, before we sent some hapless consultant overseas, we’d make sure they got some cultural sensitivity training. It was never too intense or extensive, but we tried to make sure that they didn’t immediately insult everybody around them or get thrown in jail for being stupid.

One of the great things about the internet is that we can visit and interact with people from around the world. However, we do so often without any understanding of our cultural differences. We, therefore, just assume similarities that don’t exist.

Salt Water (moderate)

We all (and I’m including myself) just take for granted that humour and cultural references translate when they may not.

This was brought home to me again a while back when I did a satirical post that was heavily dependent on knowledge of North American media types and their peculiarities. It didn’t go over well with readers from some parts of the world.  In the absence of the knowledge I assumed, they didn’t see the humour and were very insulted.

I’m still feeling guilty about that.

Salt Water (moderate)

The brains behind the technology we use also make assumptions. There are a number of websites I go to which, recognizing my location from my ip address, will ask me if I’d rather go to the Canadian version of their site.  Google doesn’t even ask. If I want to do a search I’m automatically directed to the canuck version.

Second Life makes assumptions as well and it doesn’t ask either. This isn’t normally a problem, unless I go to mysecondlife*com. It seems that my ip address tells something in that site’s code that I want to see the information in german.

Salt Water (moderate)

Unfortunately, although I speak a smattering of different languages, german isn’t one of them. Don’t tell me to change my settings – I have. The fact that it’s in german even if I’m not logged on says to me that it’s my default based on location.

It’s been like this for two years and you’d think by now I’d have learned a few of the words – but I haven’t. I can find “info”, “picks” and “groups”. However, when I have to (as I did recently) give somebody edit rights on my objects it turns into theatre of the absurd. My friends think it’s really funny. I just want to find the programmer who thinks Canada is part of a teutonic empire.

Salt Water (moderate)
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11 Comments

  1. Regarding the last paragraph of your post, I’ll reply with a joke:

    Q: In a first-grade classroom, how do you spot a Linden?
    A: All pupils are six years old, while he’s well over twenty.

    Reply
    • /me grins – I’m pointing the finger at whatever source they used for the location software. :p

      Reply
      • Still, someone whose IQ isn’t higher than my shoe size chose this location software – or, far worse, developed it… :P

  2. You’ve stumbled into an alt-history novel. Enjoy all the great wienerschnitzel places in Canada while you have the chance!

    Reply
  3. So, Molson’s Joe is really Heineken’s Josef? Talk about strum und drang!

    Reply
  4. I don’t know if I’m just letting a joke skip here, but I’ll address this post in a “serious” way: you do know you can change your language on that page, right? At the bottom of the page, there’s a way to change the language preferences.

    At some point, my marketplace page was set to French even if I wasn’t logged on – I guess it just kept the preference for my computer (maybe not even some IP thing, just cookies?) – and when I changed my language preference to English, it all worked well.

    Good luck! :)

    Reply
  1. Technology, Cultural Sensitivity & Second Life « Honour's Post ... | Second Life and Virtual Worlds | Scoop.it

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