Modeling in ethnocomputing: replacing bi-directional flows with recursive emergence


  • Michael Lachney Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Audrey Bennett Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Jorge Appiah Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology
  • Ron Eglash Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute


Agency, Ethnocomputing, Indigenous Design, Modeling, Translation.


Ethnocomputing is the study of the intersections between culture and computing. In addition to cultural analysis of computing, it also utilizes computing to model artifacts or practices from a given culture. In this essay, we consider three modes of modeling. In the first mode, the knowledge flow is unidirectional: the researcher analyzes indigenous designs and provides a computing model. In the second mode, the knowledge flow is bidirectional with researchers bringing a technical etic (outsider) perspective and informants bringing a cultural emic (insider) perspective. In the third mode, knowledge flow is recursive; there are bidirectional flows nested within other bidirectional flows. Our case study begins with computer simulations of log curves in Adinkra symbols in Ghana. Thus, we show that there are nested flows between nature and the indigenous artisans who model nature’s growth patterns; between our own ethnocomputing simulations and the students and teachers in Ghanaian classrooms; and finally between the history of computing in the West and the implementation of educational technology. Our data indicates that a recursive model that can account for these nested flows better enables researchers to integrate social justice and sustainability with education and research in both social and technical domains.



Como Citar

Lachney, M., Bennett, A., Appiah, J., & Eglash, R. (2018). Modeling in ethnocomputing: replacing bi-directional flows with recursive emergence. Revista Internacional De Pesquisa Em Educação Matemática, 6(1). Recuperado de