Friday, April 24, 2015

Cross-cultural Communication, Books that Changed my Life

I saw discussion about a book that changed your life. There's a series of books that changed my life, relevant to this week's discussion on culture, history, and decolonizing STEM:
There are two more in the series, that I haven't read:
The stories are about interstellar space travel, contact between and among alien races. There's a school, called "StarBridge," with three learning tracks: Translator/Interpreter, Telepath, and Interrelator. From "Silent Dances":

"Translators worked for the CLS [a sort of interstellar UN] as interpreters. While telepaths had to be born into their ability, their schooling would eventually prepare them for the search for intelligent life. When interrellators graduated, they were ready to live on alien worlds as diplomatic liaisons or even ambassadors."
I've previously written about my fascination with languages. The StarBridge series helped me to understand about how much more there is to cross-cultural communication than "simple" translation / interpretation of words. It gets into religions, but more than that, it gets into power relations, expectations of time, expectations of space. There are many different frameworks proposed for organizing the dimensions.

In "Competing Through People," we discussed the Elements and Artifacts of organizational culture. In Organizational Behavior, Exhibit 14.1 displays Organizational Culture Assumptions, Values, and Artifacts like an iceberg, with organizational culture below the surface, and the artifacts of organizational culture above.


  • Physical structures
  • Language
  • Rituals and ceremonies
  • Stories and legends

Organizational culture:

  • Shared values
    • Conscious beliefs
    • Evaluate what is good or bad, right or wrong
  • Shared assumptions
    • Nonconscious, taken-for-granted beliefs
    • Implicit mental models, ideal prototypes of behavior
I've been seeing so many of the problems with sexism, racism, colonialism as cultural conflicts. 

Whether it be discussions of sexism in the military, racism and colonialism in science, to hijacking the Hugo Awards ... The world has changed.