Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how I’ve become my own data point. For years, I’ve done user research on others, observing their behaviors and their comments and then describing their needs based on my analysis. The only time I really ever used myself as a participant is during expert reviews where I pretend to be a user and act as they would act while interacting with something. What is happening now is clearly different. Rather than focusing on a specific interaction of interest, a job task or a specific decision someone needs to make, I’m just observing myself going through life and having little aha moments about how I’m seeing the world or how my behavior has changed. Some things that I have noticed:
- I am much more aware of the effects that chemicals and medications have on neural processing, and particularly with how they aren’t necessarily stable. After my surgery, my medication fluctuated over the course of a couple months, which impacted my mood, my cognitive processing, my rationality, my energy, etc. I didn’t realize it until later on when I looked back and saw how much I was different. That realization has me thinking about designing for patients who don’t have a stable mental state, which may or may not include some kind of perception or cognitive deficit. Prior to this, my thoughts were much more attuned to environmental factors that affected a situation and one’s ability to handle that situation. Now the thought that there may be a lot more going on internally is a fascinating one. Clearly my interest in healthcare matters is likely to grow with this experience.
- With a visual deficit, I find myself interacting with the world differently. Because I don’t process the full visual field as easily, it is just easier for me to follow someone else doing something as opposed to trying to figure something else out. This is new. I’ve never been shy about being first in line for anything, picking the direction to travel, starting the train moving, etc. Now it is just easier for Mom to lead or pick the table or whatever. She’s not used to this from me either. The realization came when we went into a public restroom and I walked up and got in line behind a woman. Turned out she wasn’t in line, just blocking the walkway, and there were plenty of stalls available…but I didn’t look beyond her, I just followed the standard convention of getting in line behind someone that looked like they were in line. Even though I’m aware of this now, I’m not sure I will wind up doing anything differently until my vision gets any better…just interesting to be experiencing. My vision will likely be shifting for at least another month or so, so I’ll just enjoying riding in the passenger seat and no longer caring about what others around me think of me because I can’t really see them anyway to care. 🙂
- Curious to see what comes next…