Determining requirements within an indigenous knowledge system of African rural communities.
Kapuire, Gereon Koch
Bidwell, Nicola J.
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Eliciting and analyzing requirements within knowledge systems, which fundamentally differ so far from technology supported systems represent particular challenges. African rural communities’ life is deeply rooted in an African Indigenous knowledge system manifested in their practices such as Traditional Medicine. We describe our endeavors to elicit requirements to design a system to support the accumulation and sharing of traditional local knowledge within two rural Herero communities in Namibia. We show how our method addressed various challenges in eliciting and depicting intangible principles arising because African communities do not dichotomize theoretical and practical know-how or privilege a science of abstraction and generalization. Ethnography provided insights into etiology, or causal interrelationships between social values, spiritual elements and everyday life. Participatory methods, involving youth and elders, revealed nuances in social relations and pedagogy pertinent to the transfer of knowledge from generation to generation. Researcher and participant-recorded audio-visual media revealed that interactions prioritize speech, gesture and bodily interaction, above visual context. Analysis of the performed and narrated structures reveal some of the ways that people tacitly transfer bodily and felt-experiences and temporal patterns in storytelling. Experiments using digital and paperbased media, in situ rurally showed the ways that people in rural settings encounter and learn within their everyday experiences of the land. These analyses also demonstrate that own ontological and representational biases can constrain eliciting local meanings and analyzing transformations in meaning as we introduce media. Reflections on our method are of value to others who need to elicit requirements in communities whose literacy, social and spiritual logic and values profoundly differ from those in the knowledge systems that typify ICT design.