Creation through ideation

Is it too soon to have already found a favorite part of this process?

Today we took our field research data points, debated themes, crafted insights, and then the fun began. Ideation is, effectively, an improv-style brainstorming session where you allow yourself to say “yes, and” to every concept that comes to mind and then either build upon that or spin into another brainstorm.

I’m excited to see what develops out of this mess of green post-its tomorrow!

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Building empathy

During our first day of field research yesterday, it wasn’t hard for our group to relate to the gamut of sentiment expressed by the individuals that we interviewed. We heard perspectives ranging from a deep frustration with the public transit system and some of its pain points, to a goosebumps-evoking sense of pride felt by an interviewee recounting when she brought her nieces (now regular transit users) on their first bus trip. So, when are we called upon to actively build empathy?

I was most aware of working to emanate empathy during our interviews when an individual attempted to describe and justify their paranoia about technology, actively seeking positive affirmation and validation of their views from our group. I was conscious of arranging my face and body in an attempt to make the interviewee feel that I exactly understood, valued, and felt their fears… while secretly having personal flashbacks to a period of life where I worked hard to maintain a positive relationship with a family member whose religious and spiritual beliefs became largely divergent from my own. It felt akin to not wanting to hurt or stymie the individual’s vulnerability and openness — by letting on that you inherently feel differently — in an effort to draw out their most pure perspective and opinion.

Perhaps these moments elicited my most intentional reactions because the stretch to step into their shoes and see the world from their point of view felt the most challenging. If I have one goal by the end of this program, it is to master that stretch such that it no longer feels unnatural or constructed to slip into a mindset vastly different from my own… and, perhaps, uncover what it means to build empathy.

Keep Calm and AC4D On

If I had a single takeaway from today’s orientation, it would be that this will be a challenging program and I’m going to need to be on my A-game to make it through successfully. AC4D director Ruby Ku began the day by overviewing the school, curriculum, and program logistics and then we dove into student introductions after lunch.

During the alumni panel that closed out the day, I learned my new favorite word courtesy of AC4D alum Céline Thibault: timeboxing. Since my Google calendar already navigates me through my week, I’m looking forward to adding an even greater level of detail to my schedule to remind myself to do things like call mom, go jogging, and eat my vegetables over these next nine months.

While I am absolutely feeling anxious about my ability to juggle life commitments without dropping too many balls, I’m simultaneously reassured by the energy, honesty, and enthusiasm of the fellow students that I met today and am looking forward to immersing myself in all things interaction design during the course of this program!

Keep Calm and AC4D On
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