Culture Technology – a Paradigm Shift from Technology Oriented to Human-Centered
DEAJEON, KOREA — “Cultural technology is a novel concept of convergence between humanity and technology,” said Dongman Lee, Dean of Graduate School of Culture Technology at KAIST.
“Convergence, the most buzzed about topic in the IT industry today, traditionally meant the convergence of technologies which often comes ahead of people. Take computers for example. Today, without knowing how to properly use modern computers, people usually lag behind in society, and often dubbed as computer illiterate. Traditional computers have been upgraded for the sake of users who are technologically savvy, not for seniors who find them difficult to use.”
He continued that “With Steve Jobs’ unveiling of the iPhone to the market, I believe that the concept of technology-oriented convergence has shifted to humans-centered. It was simple, convenient and people-oriented, naturally leading to huge ripple effects. The change of ideas started from understanding the basis of humans.”
What is culture technology?
Culture technology(CT) has so far been accepted as content generation technology, helping to create an original form of culture such as movies, dramas and animation. “Genuine CT is, however, technology that shapes culture itself. Culture technology has two categories in this regard. First, it is creativity empowering technology which makes a pre-existing form of culture more valuable. One of our professors uses scientific application computer graphics instead of conventional computer graphics. In reality, when you drop an object, it will bounce according to the laws of physics. With the expression method, film producers can maximize the effect violating the laws of physics. This allows the producers to express emotions of people which differ strongly from reality. We called it “expressive computer graphics”, which makes content more creative.”
“The second is culture embedded technology which contains stories. I was inspired by Chris Bangle, who was recently headhunted by Samsung from BMW Group where he had worked as Chief of Design. For the BMW Z4, he once mentioned that the idea of the side design of the car came from the image that Eve felt ashamed after she ate from the tree of knowledge. The idea can be unfamiliar at first, but the design with a background story can be reproduced continuously, inspiriting the imagination of people. When technology and humanity converge, what is important is the story,” he explained.
Graduate School of Culture Technology at KAIST
The Curriculum of Graduate School of Culture Technology at KAIST where he worked as a dean mainly focuses on three components: Digital Entertainment, Ambient Communication and Interactive Media & Space.
In the entertainment industry, information technology can be used to create dramas and movies. By utilizing the system of accumulated databases, producers can view necessary information at a glance. They can build the successful cast of characters and stories within a one page synopsis, saving time for writers to prepare it. Based on the story, producers, writers and movie directors can create and add ideas. Digital Entertainment is designed to create an eco-system where new types of cultural contents are reproduced by inserting system perspective onto the original form of culture.
Ambient communication is a social service enabling an enriched user experiences by breaking the boundaries between online and offline worlds. Although many of today’s youth are familiar with social media such as Facebook and Twitter, the gap between the virtual society and real world is still quite large. Traditional media gives us refined information, but it always takes some time whereas social media delivers information fast, but it has possibility of providing forged information, as well as harsh negativity. Without social media, the information of the Tsunami in Japan would not have spread so quickly. The gravity of the issue was known to people worldwide, arousing much attention and extending aid as well. The role of social media, if not refined, can also have huge negative effects on people. What we, in this sense, are attempting to study is the link between media in the virtual world and in the real world.
Is culture technology – convergence of humanity and technology – really people-oriented technology? Yes. The humanities deal with the essence of man, and the convergence with technology consistently asks whether it is ultimately beneficial to people. Some technologies, such as cars and computers have been developed for the sake of convenience. Convenience often leads to mass production rather than small quantity. As today’s society moves towards individuality, the importance of people-oriented technology will be further highlighted. “Culture technology is still a novel concept, but I am confident that we are moving ahead and improve technology for people’s lives by attaining a better understanding of the world we live in,” he said.