div class='posterous_autopost'>My team just finished all the three participatory interviews. We are proud. There are several things we learned in terms of process of doing the interviews and just other things around it.
Today I understood one thing that means deeply to me. I understood what design data is and why quantity does not (?) really matter too much. Here, data is filled with emotion. It is filled with people's dreams, hopes
and desires. It highlights frustrations. It speaks about daily struggles. It speaks about motivations and dejections. It talks about value systems and beliefs. It talks about a better tomorrow. It talks about the pride involved in day jobs. It talks about the love and passion for their work. Data is divine.
I never felt this deep emotion for data before. To me, when I did scientific research, data was a number. The more the merrier. Because, you can just average it out, calculate the mean, median, standard deviation. They are just there to run some Mann-Whitney tests or chi-square analysis and finally conclude why Pi = 3.143…Data were just numbers. When did we ever associate emotion with numbers unless it is related to us personally? No data point in a scientific experiment has an attachment with your own self. If the data point was not relevant to proving my hypothesis, it could have been an outlier. But, until now, it never occurred to me that they were all emotional outliers.
Let me set this straight. I still don't agree completely and approve of the general method of doing participatory interviews when people are paid for it. The process of recruiting candidates and interviewing them is bringing an artificial process to something that is so beautiful when raw. I understand the motivation behind recruiting people who could be interviewed so that we collect “rich” data. There is a budget that allows for having “n” number of people that we could talk to because what is data without patterns? The more people I talk to, the more patterns I can see, right? But, if I talk to 10 people who talk because they want to vs. 10 people who talk to me because there is money involved, am I going to see similar patterns? I don't know, but it something worth trying. But, I have a strong feeling that the undercurrents to both the data will be completely different.
In my interviews, I saw my own reflection in the eyes of a restaurant manager who cared about the environment. I saw a person pour his frustrations because the city is screwing him up with taxes. These people need not and should not be incentivized for sharing their hearts story. This class project might be over with three participatory interviews, but it is not over for me. The process will go on and I am going to talk to everyone who wants to talk.