Culture Dock: New app encourages travellers and the culturally curious to share impressions through images

Guest post by Kendall Hunter
 

Chichén Itzá, on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula (Photo: Eric Stoen, www.travelbabbo.com)

 

Awhile back, while bouncing around in the back of a taxi in Chiang Mai, Thailand, I was listening to my teenage daughter talk as she absorbed scenery unlike anything she’d seen before.

“Mom, I love the world so much more, now that I’m taking pictures of it.”

In an instant, I reattached to feelings, long forgotten, when I first held a camera’s lens to a culture far different from the one in which I grew up. In my twenties, I had worked as a photojournalist in Johannesburg. That was 1993 to 1994, when South Africa was lurching toward democracy. What I witnessed, every day and often before my lens, took me more deeply into the country’s beautiful, tragic, and complicated culture. It taught a young girl from a small Canadian tourist town that there is so much more to people and places than what’s written in a book or magazine.

Prompted by my daughter’s words, I decided I would never let go of those feelings again.

Four years later, here I am with my app, Culture Dock — a social media platform to facilitate cultural understanding — ready to launch before Canada Day (July 1, 2016), the beginning of Canada’s 150th anniversary year. Envision an “Instagram-like” app but with twelve cultural channels that prompt people — locals, travellers, and experts in culture and tourism — to upload and share photos and short videos of unique aspects of any country or region. Channels include Food/Drink, Literature/Music/Art, Holidays/Festivals, and more.

Culture Dock is also proud to be the official app for the non-profit imagiNation 150, celebrating Canada’s sesquicentennial in 2017. Canadians will be invited, for one year, to share our nation’s multicultural identity on the app’s channels. Because our platform relies as much on local content as on interactions from travellers, this partnership will allow us to load “The Dock” with all things Canadian and share this with others around the globe.

As I look back over the last twenty-odd years, I realize almost everything I’ve done, including being the mother of two teenage global citizens, has led to this app’s creation.

More than ten years ago, I was commissioned by a publisher of a worldwide guidebook series, Culture Smart to write their Swiss instalment. As a Canadian expat living in Zurich, I was challenged to understand my adoptive home as best I could, so I could dispel stereotypes with sensitivity and, hopefully, some wisdom. Something in me had shifted by the time I completed the final draft. In a very short time, I’d immersed myself in Swiss culture, from history to social etiquette and everything in between, and my judgment had melted away.

Author Kendall Hunter and her daughters at the Great St. Bernard Pass on the Swiss-Italian border, 2008.

I’ve also lived in England and Wales, and four Canadian cities, and I’ve travelled through Europe, South East Asia, and Southern and Northern Africa. My daughters have been extremely lucky to grow up in two of the most beautiful places in the world — Zurich and Banff, but I knew it was important for them to travel, to understand other parts of the globe and, in doing so, to learn more about themselves. I’ve made a point of travelling with them whenever I could.

I came at Culture Dock as an author with no background in business, so being involved in a start-up has meant a massive learning curve for me. A start-up is a culture in itself, and in many ways one that I’ve adapted to fairly well, but not without major challenges. There was no way I could do this alone, so I gathered around me several talented experts, including developer Emmanuel Mathews, app and website designer Marcos Molino, and illustrator Sergio J. Lievano.

Here are some of the wonderful things you can do on Culture Dock:

  • Shoot photos and videos in-app from your device.
  • Upload content into designated cultural channels.
  • Share with fellow travellers.
  • Tap a button to request information about your own content or others’.
  • Explore and comment on content from the country you are in.
  • Follow others on The Dock and bookmark content for future reference from channels of interest.
  • View trending videos and photos in the country of your choice.
  • Search by country, channel, or user to expand exploration.
  • Direct-message fellow travellers.

A “living guidebook,” Culture Dock will be fuelled by the interests of people, like you and me, who are curious about the world.

 

Kendall Hunter

KENDALL HUNTER, the founder of Culture Dock, is a Canadian author, journalist, photographer, and mother of two teenage global citizens. In the 1990s, she volunteered for a year in Johannesburg, South Africa, where she was on the front lines as a news photographer for a national independent newspaper. To bridge the gap between her exceptional experience in that country and life in Canada, she wrote her first book, Black Taxi: Shooting South Africa. A revised edition of her second book, Culture Smart!: Switzerland, will be released this June. Kendall is now working on a memoir about travelling to interview some of the world’s top women photojournalists. Originally from Banff, Canada, Kendall now lives in Toronto. Visit her author website here.

Comments

  1. E.C. Hunter says:

    What a wonderful time ( Canada’s 150 birthday ) to share wonders of the world and to
    let people of the world find out more about the amazing country that is Canada.

  2. Carrie Hunter says:

    This is a brililant way to connect our country – sea to shining sea – as we approach our 150th birthday! Yay Kendall! Yay Canada! And what an awesome way to interconnect people of all cultures!

  3. Mary Sloane says:

    This is brilliant Kendall! What a wonderful way to allow us all to share our worlds and to come to know and understand one another, as people first, better. Perhaps this will help us begin to see the world for the wonderful people that inhabit it and not just the horror stories that sell.

    This is a beautiful gift to Canada at the time of their 150th birthday as a country.

    Blessings to you and your two young daughters. What a gift to teach them they are global citizens, not just Canadian citizens and to come to it with the gift of understanding other people.

    Your Mom is a wonderful friend and she is so incredibly proud of you and what you have achieved including your battle with C…..

    Prayers and Blessings for your continued health, wealth and happiness

    Mary

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