Chiara Basseti on international collaborative projects

Chiara Basseti is a Post-doc Research Fellow at the University of Trento, the project leader of the EU Horizon2020 Common Fare project (PIE News), in which M-ITI is a partner.
Basseti is an ethnographer and qualitative researcher, with specific skills in ethnomethodology and conversation analysis. Her research rests, at the most general level, on the minute details of human action-in-interaction, with particular attention to nonverbal, embodied and affective aspects, and the role of tools and technologies in multimodal interaction.
She visited M-ITI in April for a week, and shared a little of her experience in working in international consortium projects, in an interview to M-ITI.

What are the main advantages and challenges of working in a project within an international Consortium, such as the one of Commonfare?

The main advantage equals the main challenge in this case, and concerns the multicultural dimension of the Commonfare consortium, in terms of national cultures, but also and especially organizational cultures and disciplinary cultures. There is a constant interplay of familiarity and strangeness, which is enriching, yet also challenging, starting from language and vocabulary. That is why we have decided to collectively develop a project glossary –by now, for internal use within the consortium, but we are thinking to the possibility of transforming it in a public artifact.

The common fare project is implementing 3 pilots in different European countries: Italy, the Netherlands, and Croatia. How do you think cultural differences will shape the technological way each pilot is implemented?

I believe cultural diversity will shape the way the whole action research project is conceived, the very understanding and ongoing development of what the project are for, which needs and desires they may serve, and hence the technological way to address such needs and desires. Yet also in this case, I think the issue is not as much about national cultures –although they certainly play a role– as it is about other cultural elements stemming from people's biographies. I'm thinking, for instance, to the different ways to look at the future and to conceive the role of work in human life that different generations present, with “native precarious” from different countries holding a similar vision, which is in sharp contrast with the one of the previous generation.

M-ITI is growing, and becoming more and more multicultural. How do you think our different cultures can shape / influence our future technological development?

Cultures are, in the first instance, lenses through which we perceive the world. They make phenomena salient or unnoticed, to begin with, and this clearly affects imagination and the development of “future objects” too. Actually, cultures can be conceived as technologies themselves, technologies of perception, as any technology is an intermediary between us and the world. When we get in touch with different cultures, and we engage in actual dialogue, we are exposed to descriptions of the world coming from eyes wearing lenses different than our own. That's how we understand we are indeed wearing lenses. This awareness is fundamental, and working in a multicultural environment is a constant reminder that feeds such an awareness together with our imaginative potential.