Why I Do What I Do Copy

Why I Do What I Do Copy

Journal || October 2016 Why I Do What I Do Kevin Shane Keywords: Human Centered Design, Development, Design Thinking We spend a lot of time sharing our work, and are constantly looking at opportunities to make the Quicksand practice and the human-centered design process more accessible, while exploring its value and meaning in the varied contexts we work. Through our communication efforts we attempt to illustrate our impact from taking a people-centric approach. This involves a lot of “what” and “how”, with some “where” and “who” mixed in. We often fail to share “why”. What drew each of us to Quicksand initially is intensely personal. The collective group at Quicksand is united by a belief that taking a human-centered approach is the best process for driving real, sustainable change. In simple terms, we believe accounting for the thoughts, feelings, perceptions, and behaviors of the people a product or service is being created for is critical for its success. Listen to people, share these insights, and use them as the foundation for developing something great. We do it because we have seen its effectiveness time and again. As an American living and working in India, my friends and family tend to poke me for as much detail on what life is like as possible. Oftentimes, and this is likely a function of being so far from home for so long (nearly 5 years now) and working in some challenging contexts, the question most people need answered is, “Why are you doing this?” What’s interesting is the many ways that question is asked: in exasperation, out of genuine curiosity, or even with thinly veiled anger...
Walls: An HCD Story

Walls: An HCD Story

Journal || November 2016 Walls: An HCD Story Kevin Shane Keywords: Human Centered Design, Humanitarian, StoryLab Sleep is difficult to come by. There’s the heat and humidity to deal with; ventilation in the UNHCR-provided tent homes leaves a lot to be desired, and it is stifling inside. The lack of any sort of mattress means contending with a rock hard ground as a bed. Chiggers seem to feast on you when you’re especially prone, and the itchiness is particularly maddening. The overcrowding makes for noisy nights too, but worse than that is the proximity to neighbors whose allegiance is to a tribe that is a blood enemy to your own, and death threats come often. Beyond that, there is the anxiety. Always the anxiety. What will happen to us? How long will we be here? How will we get enough to eat? What is happening in the world outside this camp? You eventually abandon sleep and rise with the sun, ever optimistic that the queue for the water pump will be short at this hour, and always disappointed when it seem to have grown again from the previous day. Where have all these people come from? Breakfast is the previous night’s leftovers from dinner. Your stomach grumbles, a victim to the heinous math that finds feeling full sacrificed to extend one meal’s ration to two or three. There’s never enough food; you make it last until it’s all out, and hope the number of days until the next distribution day aren’t too many. The wait at the pump becomes a social affair. Lacking access to the outside world, affairs of the camp dwellers become...
Why I Do What I Do

Why I Do What I Do

Journal || October 2016 Why I Do What I Do Kevin Shane Keywords: Human Centered Design, Development, Design Thinking We spend a lot of time sharing our work, and are constantly looking at opportunities to make the Quicksand practice and the human-centered design process more accessible, while exploring its value and meaning in the varied contexts we work. Through our communication efforts we attempt to illustrate our impact from taking a people-centric approach. This involves a lot of “what” and “how”, with some “where” and “who” mixed in. We often fail to share “why”. What drew each of us to Quicksand initially is intensely personal. The collective group at Quicksand is united by a belief that taking a human-centered approach is the best process for driving real, sustainable change. In simple terms, we believe accounting for the thoughts, feelings, perceptions, and behaviors of the people a product or service is being created for is critical for its success. Listen to people, share these insights, and use them as the foundation for developing something great. We do it because we have seen its effectiveness time and again. As an American living and working in India, my friends and family tend to poke me for as much detail on what life is like as possible. Oftentimes, and this is likely a function of being so far from home for so long (nearly 5 years now) and working in some challenging contexts, the question most people need answered is, “Why are you doing this?” What’s interesting is the many ways that question is asked: in exasperation, out of genuine curiosity, or even with thinly veiled anger...
Patient Making in a Scottish Village

Patient Making in a Scottish Village

Journal || July 2016 Patient Making in a Scottish Village Babitha George Keywords: Workshops, IoT, UnBox, Design I spent a week this June in Scotland as part of the Open IoT Design Sprint, organised by the Mozilla Foundation and hosted by Jon Rogers in his seaside village of Anstruther and the University of Dundee. This was the third in a series of labs/sprints this year, that started with the UnBox Caravan at Ahmedabad’s National Institute of Design campus in February 2016. The intent of all these events has been to bring together a group of interesting and interested people to explore our collective futures through multi-cultural and inter-disciplinary lenses. There are two aspects that I would like to reflect upon with regard to my week in Scotland. The first is about what it means to move beyond obvious spaces when we think of designing for the future. As my friend Jon likes to say, there is a same-ness and pace to the format and locales of design sprints and hackathons, that almost seems overbearing and arrogant. This is particularly true when these hacks are attempting to design real products and solutions for people. Unless we begin to see people as not just users, but also producers and collaborators, we cannot ever hope to ‘design right’. During the week in Scotland, we got to spend time with local teens, fishermen, and farmers. Most IoT conversations tend to focus on cities with their all-encompassing connectivity, so it seemed particularly meaningful to situate this sprint in a rural village with similar connectivity constraints that vast segments of the world still live with; thus opening up...

A Case for Empathy

JOURNAL || JANUARY 2016 A Case for Empathy Kevin Shane Keywords: Empathy, Design Research, Sharing, Context, Meaningful Engagement. Those not given to brevity are provided with this detailed definition of “empathy” by Merriam-Webster: “the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner”. A more simple way to look at it, though, is as the ability to understand and share another’s feelings. The latter take is more basic in that there are far fewer words to sum up the concept but is more complex simply by including the word “share”. And this inclusion also makes it more resonant in viewing the importance of empathy in our work in the field of design research. The issue of empathy can be a divisive one. There are plenty of people who firmly believe that one must remain as emotionally removed from their work as possible in order to maintain a sense of objectivity. The thinking behind this being that one’s judgement can become clouded if they become invested in a person or place, which in turn could lead to decisions or actions that are ultimately more harmful than beneficial. This is particularly poignant in fields such as healthcare, journalism, and even development; in order to do what is “right” an individual must maintain a sense of separation from the work they are doing. In our work, the opposite is often true even, if not especially, when working in these same sectors. The...