Week 7 : Reflection

Looking back over this quarter, if I had it to do over, there would certainly be some major changes in process flow and starting things earlier than I had thought necessary. It was naive to think our insights would be easily won. This point however, does not make the work any less powerful or rewarding. We are still getting to the understanding we wished to ascertain, albeit slower than originally planned.

Mainly what I’ve found is a need for better management of multiple projects and setting clear goals for each piece of each project. Today in the research class, a guest from Aunt Bertha came to talk with us about the theory of change, and the value arising from mapping the path of influence to get a handle on where impact could be made, and if that impact would be worth pursuing. Theory of change is still something I have not fully grasped, but it seemingly can apply to many different pieces of work. Making these diagrams can help lay out what impact you are trying to make with any deliverable or any artifact created and help you get to the meat much quicker than without a plan. Thinking back over my life and the things I have worked on, I realized that I have never really done this. Never truly set goals to fulfill or asked myself what it will take to achieve those goals. It’s a strange thing to be pulled out of my world in this way and to be looking to something as simple as a diagram to help guide me in everyday life.

Looking at the past six weeks, I wish I had been more specific setting goals and deadlines for them to be met. I’ve gotten all of the work done that’s required, but I can’t help but think to myself, “What if you had time for another iteration,” or “what if you had done this differently.” While reflection is a necessary part of learning, it seems as though more often than not, it comes later than is advantageous. Since it has been such a rush this quarter to complete work and complete research, I have not had much time to reflect on what I’ve done, but spending time in the data this week and looking over the groupings, I am beginning to feel like this is what I should be doing. My mind took its time in thinking I could do this, and do it well, but I am feeling better about the process overall and believing in the value human centered design has on the world. It has been a difficult road, and I never thought such a short amount of time—four months—would simultaneously pass so quickly, yet feel like an eternity.

It has however, solidified my belief this is the proper path for me. Working with people, but more so for them has always been my goal. I know there is difficulty and I know there is opportunity to help, but until now I felt helpless to affect change.One thing I’ve found has helped was learning how to keep a continual conversation with participants even after the interview has ended. I can hear these people giving me answers to questions I have for them now, even though we spoke weeks ago, consistently and clearly. Wanting to know how they would feel about certain things, or what they would tell me if I asked them where we should be looking. The sentiments expressed behind vocabulary and spoken language are increasingly more important. It reminds me of Derrida’s The Work of Mourning, where he contends that after death, we continue conversations with people and are able to hear their active voice from beyond their existence. Working with utterances feels very much like this, like a continued conversation with a person after their physical representation is less than immediately accessible. While these participants are still alive, the ideal holds true. Joan Kirkby calls this the remembrance of the future, she posits their words are a call for transformation and responsibility to them, and in the cases of our participants, I feel this more and more. I feel their needs and their goals and dreams as if they were with me now. While their motivations for certain actions will remain a mystery, their words and hopes and what they wish to achieve is fresh and pressing in my mind. This conversation wills me to work hard to make a difference, it makes me want to make a change for them, not to leave a mark, not for myself, but through others is the true fulfillment.