Home Away from Home

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Abstract

More and more people move away from their homes for work or education. As these global nomads move from familiar to the unknown, they navigate and internalise these different cultures. Over time, many experience a cultural identity crisis as they realise they don’t belong to any particular place anymore.

This project is a deep dive into how technology may (not) intervene with culture and identity. The final result “Infuse” is a probe to cause reflections on how global nomads could feel at home in a new culture. Four different users show us a few possibilities, but there are many more.

Inspiration and Method

In order to understand this, I did a survey and in depth interviews. The question was open ended - what is home to people? It could be tangible things, people or memories. However, as I narrowed down to the global nomads, it became more about how they find their footing in the new cultures that they move into. They seemed to go through the similar four stages of solving practical issues, finding familiar things or events, then into defining their cultural identity and lastly giving back to the community. The need to belong to a culture however is very subjective, some might want to integrate and make the new culture their own, some want a mix of old and new and some may not want to integrate at all. All these are ways to feel home and need to be respected by the society in that way.

Result

The result is Infuse, a tool that follows the journey of global nomads and is meant to be a probe into surfacing how people would like to Infuse in a culture. It is also a comment on how technology may or may not intervene in a space that has so many nuances. Infuse has three parts - an Infuse map that keep track of the person's cultural evolution, an Infuse CQ or Cultural Intelligence bot that helps the person with relevant cultural information and Infuse Advisors who are real people wanting to help other global nomads through different cultures. The way person uses this however, is the way that the person would want to maintain their cultural identity. The exhibition was the last piece of the design exercise where people engaged with a screen prototype to determine where their cultural identity is.