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Situated Enterprise Knowledge Management Project (Indigenous Knowledge Systems)

This project is lead by Dr Nicola Bidwell.


This project uses a “situated” perspective of enterprise knowledge management and engineering to avoid the failures of initiatives intended to enable remote rural communities to generate and share local wisdom and practical know-how with conventional digital technologies. We draw on participatory and critical design and computer-supported-collaborative-work methodologies to contribute significant insights into how social-media sharing systems can enable rural communities to share information. The project has several sub-projects.

  • The Mankosi Unxibelelwano Project:  We lead all situated design, development and deployment of prototypes to facilitate exchanging multimedia content compatible with local social structures, communication patterns, requirements and constraints in a remote rural Eastern Cape Xhosa community. This EPSRC-funded collaboration between the community; a local Non-Profit Organization (Transcape); and, six institutions in South Africa and UK builds on current use of low-end mobile phones to establish digital media libraries to connecting villages.
  • The Omahake-Namibia Project: We deploy technology probes, design interactions, and evaluate prototypes to generate, store, share and control content on traditional practices of animal husbandry and medicine in Herero communities in two remote sites in Namibia. This aspect of the project is a collaboration with community-members in Omahake, the Polytechnic of Namibia, and Universities of Cape Town and Aalborg.
  • The Audio-repository project: The Audio Repository (AR) is a new platform for distributed computing and social media suited to the social, cultural and economic needs and constraints of impoverished communities. The platform contributes a novel perspective on providing distributed computing to rural communities. The AR is an asynchronous voice recording, sharing and archiving AR, which well matches the oral information transfer and governance practices of tribal villages, where approximately 36% of South Africa’s total population live. We designed, developed and evaluated the AR through extensive Ethnographic Action Research in an Eastern Cape isiXhosa speaking community. The AR will also suit other close-knit communities, which emphasise oral communication such as township or slum dwellers throughout the developing world. The AR considerably advances research and development in asynchronous voice-based information sharing and improving communications infrastructure for the billions of people who do not own phones or own low-end phones. It incorporates a portable display, which is situated in key, but flexible, sites of community information exchange; distribution using Bluetooth between the AR and users’ own low-end Bluetooth enabled phones and between users’ phones by incorporating their own physical movement and ‘mule transport’. The AR addresses issues of accessibility for users with low print and ICT literacy and without access to domestic electricity, or funds for cellphone services


A substantial number of publications emanated from this project:



Winschiers-Theophilus, H., Bidwell, NJ., Blake, E., (2012). Altering Participation through inter-actions and reflections in design. Co Design: International Journal of CoCreation in Design and the Arts Vol. 8, Nos. 2–3, June–September 2012, 163–182

Winschiers-Theophilus, H., Bidwell, NJ., Blake, E., Koch Kapuire, G. (2012). Community Consensus: Design Beyond Participation. Design Issues (in press).

Bidwell, NJ., Winschiers-Theophilus, H., Koch Kapuire, G., Rehm, M. (2011). Pushing Personhood into Place: Situating Media in the Transfer of Rural Knowledge in Africa. Int. J. Human-Computer Studies 69 (2011). 618–631. 

Bidwell, NJ, Winschiers-Theophilus, H., Koch-Kapuire, G., Chivuno-Kuria, S. (2011). Situated Interactions Between Audiovisual Media and African Herbal Lore. Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, 15(6):609–627. 

Reitmaier, T., Bidwell, NJ., Marsden, G. (2011). Situating Digital Storytelling within African Communities. Int. J. Human-Computer Studies 69 (2011) 283 – 286. 658?668, ISSN: 1071-5819, DOI: 10.1016/j.ijhcs.2010.12.008.

Marsden, G., Ladeira, I., Reitmaier, T., Bidwell, NJ., & Blake, E. (2011 ). Digital Storytelling in Africa. Int. Journal of Computing 9(3):257-265.

Book Chapters

Bidwell, NJ., Winschiers-Theophilus, H. (2012). Extending Connections Between Land and People: Designing Digital Media with Rural Herero Communities in Namibia. In: Heritage and Social Media- Understanding and Experiencing Heritage in a Participatory Culture. (E Giaccardi, ed.). Routledge. (in press).


Peters, A.N, Oren, M.A, Bidwell, NJ. (2012) Namibian and American Cultural Orientations Toward Facebook. In: Proc. CHI’12 (30th Int. Conf. on Human Factors in Computing Systems). Austin, Tx, US. ACM Press.

Reitmaier, T, Bidwell, NJ., Siya, M., Marsden, G., Tucker, B., (2012). Designing an Asynchronous Oral Repository for Rural African Communities. IST-Africa, May 2012 Dar es Salem, Tanzania. 

Abdelnour-Nocera, J., Kurosu, M., Clemmensen, M., Bidwell, NJ., Vatrapu, R., Winschiers-Theophilus, H, Evers, V, Heimgärtner, R, Yeo, A. (2011). Re-Framing HCI Through Local and Indigenous Perspectives. In: Proc. INTERACT'11 (13th IFIP TC 13 Int. Conf. on Human-computer Interaction). Part IV.

Abdelnour-Nocera, J, Kurosu, M, Clemmensen, M, Bidwell, NJ., Vatrapu, R, Winschiers-Theophilus, H, Evers, V, Heimgärtner, R, Yeo, A. (2011). Workshop on Indigenous HCI. In: Proc. IWIPS11 (10th Int. Workshop on Internationalisation of Products and Systems). 

Bidwell, NJ., Lalmas M., Marsden, G, Dlutu, B., Ntlangano, S., Manjingolo, A., Tucker, W.D.,  Jones, M., Robinson, R., Vartiainen, E., Klampanos, I. (2011). Please call ME.N.U.4EVER: Designing for ‘Callback’ in Rural Africa. In: Proc. IWIPS’11 (10th Int. Workshop on Internationalisation of Products and Systems). 117 – 38.

Rodil, K., Winschiers-Theophilus, H., Bidwell, NJ., Søren, Rehm, M., Koch Kapuire, G. (2011). ‘A New Visualization Approach to Re-Contextualize Indigenous Knowledge in Rural Africa’, In: Proc. INTERACT'11 (13th IFIP TC 13 Int. Conf. on Human-computer Interaction).

Bidwell, NJ., Reitmaier, T, Marsden G & Hansen, S (2010). Designing with mobile digital storytelling in rural Africa. In: Proc. CHI’10 (28th Int. Conf. on Human Factors in Computing Systems). ACM Press. 1593-1602. 

Gitau, S, Diga, K., Bidwell, NJ., Marsden, G. (2010). Beyond being a Proxy User: A look at NGOs’ Potential Role in ICT4D Deployment. In: Proc. ICTD’10 (Information and Communication Technology and Development). ACM Press.

Light, A., Laderia, I., Roberson J., Bidwell, NJ., Sambasivan, N.,  Rangaswamy N., Gitau, S., (2010). Gender Matters: Female Perspectives in ICT4D Research. In: Proc. ICTD’10 (Information and Communication Technology and Development). ACM Press. 

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