Why Are You Here? Student interviews
Right, so now it's time to bring you guys up. So, let's start with Carlos, first. And so, we're going to practice some of these techniques of interviewing with some of the students in the class today, and we'll see how this works. Alright. Okay. Alright, hi Carlos. Thanks for coming today.
So, I know we're in a little bit of an artificial setting in this TV studio, and so, in a real-world context, you really want to make a connection with someone, help them feel at ease. Often, this involves just, basic pleasantries and getting to know someone. So, in this case, I've actually met Carlos before this class, but for everybody who doesn't know you, Carlos, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and where you're coming from today?
Okay. Well, I'm a therapist, mental health therapist in Seattle. Been here for five years and practicing. And I've been interested in design, I have a lot of good friends that are in kind of design, the design world. Have had a past in c...
omputer science, once, so I'm kind of drawn to human-computer interaction and whatnot, so, and so stumbled upon this talk you were giving, or this training and was excited.
Awesome. And so, usually, I'll try to get to know somebody, help open them up and you may not necessarily want to go into your script right away. So, for example, one easy way of getting stories, or just to get people talking is asking about something relatively non-threatening. Like, Carlos, I've noticed you have this interesting bracelet here with different stones. Is there a story behind that and where that came from?
I was just doing some window shopping and I stumbled upon this and I enjoyed the different colors. I feel like it's pretty versatile. It's got a lot of different colors, so I can kind of, you know, wear it on a whim or something, so.
Yeah, and is it something that, like, do you think about the stones as having some sort of effect on mood or behavior as more, just, kind of an aesthetic thing?
Um, yeah, well, it gets my mood, I mean, I guess, in the morning I'm kind of like, you know, okay what am I going to wear today, you know. So, sometimes I'm like, sometimes it's a bracelet day, sometimes it's not. So, yeah, today was a bracelet day.
Cool. Alright, so we can continue this path, or we can transition to understanding more about Carlos and his motivation. So, you mentioned a little bit about your background, having done some work in tech but now you're a therapist. How does design fit in this picture?
Well, I think, I mean, I guess I'm more and more I'm realizing it's like, all around us. Like, you know, things are, you know, processes that we do or just the things that we use every day are just all designed by someone or some corporation or something, and so, just more and more aware of that. And just thinking about even just, like, the listening. We were talking about, I'm a therapist, so what you were talking about is very, you know, line up, it's my every day in a sense. And I was thinking something that, you know, I appreciated seeing, like, the heart in that because I think, you know, I mean in interviewing kind of really empathizing with people. It starts with kind of like feeling something, like.
I feel like it starts there. So, I feel like it's very much in line with the work I already do and I feel like this realm is just like another creative realm, too, and I'd like to explore that, so.
Awesome. So, on the heart there, like, can you tell me about how, I mean, since you actually are a therapist too, like, are there other ways that you get people to open up or understand what they're feeling beyond what they're telling you?
Well, I don't know, I mean, you know, the word get is interesting. Like, I mean, I don't, I'm not sure if I'm like, kind of, I think maybe when I started I thought that it was like, you know, I had to kind of, like, you know, try go get people to their most, like, vulnerable places or something. You know, I don't know, there's like a superficial notion of that or something, and like, I think over time I've just realized that, like, you know, it's actually about just, like, really just sharing an experience with someone, you know. And my, like, the most I can do is to try to facilitate that in a way that, like, oh okay, like, I might have a sense of what you're experiencing. Maybe I've experienced something like that, maybe not. And so, really just like staying present with people, and so, it's been kind of my journey. Seems in line with kind of, maybe things that are, you know, in this, the work that you do.
Cool. So, here's some paraphrasing parrot. I hear that you've keyed in on this word get, right? And it sounds like you're ambivalent about that and it seems also that you've mentioned also the word share, and that it's sort of like a give-get, right? You're not just trying to pull something that's extractive out of your patient or somebody that you're working with. You also want to give something of yourself so that there's some equal exchange. It's not just a extractive enterprise.
Yeah, sharing, I mean I definitely grow as a practitioner, as just, like, a human being, you know, doing the work. So, it's definitely, like this conversation, connection, I think that that's really important to the work, so.
Yeah, that's really awesome. And so, bringing that back, right, it sounds like you have a lot of skills that are probably transferable in terms of listening, understanding people, and focusing that on some point of the design process, whether it's design thinking, as we're covering here, or broadly in industry, right? Focusing on some point like the design research part. Can you tell me a little bit more about just your interests and how maybe this connects to your existing practice or future goals for yourself?
Well, I'm working in private practice now, more often, I'm still working in an agency, like a community mental health agency setting. So my time's split, so I feel like I'm moving more towards kind of doing more individual creative work and I've always thought that I wanted to bridge, like, my CS background with my interest in, just like, human relationships, so, design seemed like the perfect fit for that. So I'm trying to educate myself more on kind of like the language of it all with, like, something like this is great. I mean, this showing up on my sphere, I was very excited and it feels very much in line, so. I think, one of my interests in particular is just like how, I think, often it feels like the technology that's kind of coming into our lives maybe doesn't have a lot of that empathy, a lot of that, like, was somebody actually thinking about how we're using, or like, how we're going to use it, or you know, even like in my field, more like ethics. Like, you know, the ethics of some of the things that are coming into our lives and how they're actually effecting our lives. Yeah, so, I mean, like, I work with a lot of families.
And like, that something that comes up a lot. It's like, you know, you talk about being bilingual and different, like, languages, I think that's, like, very true. It's like, different generations are different, like, cultures, very much, you know? Generation that grew up with a lot of technology, another generation that didn't have that so much and just, like, how they communicate, literally, it's like different worlds, so. And I feel like, often, I've been in between those worlds. Like, trying to, like, really negotiate, kind of translate and kind of do that sort of thing, so it's definitely, like, where it seems like it's, like, a natural fit for.
Yeah, sounds good. So, meanwhile, as Carlos has been talking, I've been trying to be silent sponge a bit. But also just trying to capture some key words, myself. Like I said before, in a real-world context I'd have a recording or somebody helping me taking notes. But I just, writing some keywords that, if we were to do a more extended interview, I'd follow up with him on, right? This idea of being a bridge. I think another keyword for me was empathy, ethics, and also families, and looking at not just users as individuals, but users in the context of their family, whether there's your patient, but there's also your patient's family members, their friends, and thinking about that as a system. So, all of these are interesting in terms of an interview with Carlos, his motivations. But I think there's a lot of parallels with design thinking as well, right? We want to understand the person we're interviewing, but also their relationships with others and start to map that out so we can go deeper and (mumbles) a specific tangent or keep going wider to map out this question world, and this space of inquiry. Alright, thanks so much.
Alright, thanks Carlos. (audience applauding) Give a hand to Carlos. Thanks for being the brave first volunteer. Alright, so, let's try this again to practice with Raqesh, so come on up. Alright, how's it going?
Thanks for coming. Alright. So, Raqesh, tell me a little bit about yourself and what brings you here to this course today.
I've been working as a software engineer for a long time, and more recently been a filmmaker and part of a fledgling film production company, and we're just a startup right now, so we're trying to figure out how, how to make it sustainable and a large part of that is finding and connecting with our audience. We have a lot of content but we need to get it to the people that will appreciate our content in order to get support from them.
That's great. So, just in this opening gambit, I have a lot of different possibilities, different threads I could go, I could go down, right? So there's, I mean it's kind of amazing that you're doing both film and a software background. So, I could choose either of those two, both of those. You've talked about connecting with an audience, which I think has a lot of overlaps with design thinking and what we're doing today. You mentioned the sustainability of your business and then, I'm also looking for specific turns of phrases where I want to dig deeper. So, one interesting thing that might have just been a throw-away for you, is you said it's just a startup right now, right? Whereas, I'm thinking, well, that's really impressive that you're doing your own entrepreneurial thing. So I'd love to learn more about that, or like, you know, your feelings around starting something. Is this your first startup, have you done things like this before?
Technically, it's my second because I did try to make it as a photographer for a long time. Never did a very good job of connecting with an audience. We quite literally established this company, which right now consists of three people, including me, about three weeks ago, so hence the just part. We quite literally just.
Okay, alright. It's not just startup in terms of, like, size or, like, limited impact, but you really just started it. Alright.
So you se how probing a little bit helps me understand a little bit more. He's not necessarily trying to diminish what he's doing, but it's really, he's talking about the time dimension which I didn't know about.
Right, we're quite literally just getting started.
Yeah. And so, tell me about how you've connected with audiences before. And, I really know nothing about how the film industry works, right? I know that when they have rough cuts they'll focus group it and stuff like that. But when it comes like sort of earlier on in development, like, how do they do this research in terms of what stories people want or what are compelling to people.
I think that, the people I've been working with directors have hired me to shoot films for them, they mostly had a script already that they liked and they wanted produced. And most of them are taking the festival route, they're presenting their films in festivals. I shot a feature film this summer, which the director is planning on screening to private audiences and also at SIFF in hopes of getting, selling it to a distributor.
And what does SIFF mean?
Seattle International Film Festival.
Got it. And so, for something like that, like, what is your role in something like that?
I was the Director of Photography. I basically shot the film.
So that's another, sort of, interesting term, you basically shot the film. And so, if we were to continue talking to Raqesh about this, you know, if I'm maybe interested in thinking about him as a filmmaker, maybe I can probe more into the basically shot a film part or maybe I can back up and talk more about connecting with audiences or how you may or may not have done that in the past. So, there's a lot of space where I can take this conversation. You know, these are just more open-ended conversations. Usually when we're doing design research, there's an agenda, right? I'm trying to learn about, you know, how people make films, or how people give therapy services and deliver that as a service. So, thinking about that more specifically. But in this case, I'm thinking about, okay, why are people taking this course. I don't necessarily have to market this course to you because you're already here. So maybe, I'm interested in how people keep learning and how they up-skill, right? So, in you're case, the film industry has probably changed a lot, both in terms of the business model and the technology. You know, when you basically shot that film, like, how is that making that film different just technically or technique-wise from, say, an earlier film that you've made?
Well this one, one of the differences, one of the big ones is that it's a full-length feature. And most of it we shot outdoors. So, lighting had a lot more to do with our choice of location and timing than with anything we could control because we didn't have the budget to bring in the usual Hollywood suite of lights and generators.
You know, so we had to make due with basically reflectors and large pieces of silk, essentially. And mostly timing. So, that there were logistical challenges that go along with being a small-budget film.
And so that seems like a constrain that you've learned to deal with. How have you gotten to get around those constraints just from doing other indie films before, or?
I was a landscape photographer, and still am, so I learned a lot about working with light and reading light and how it will evolve over the course of the day, so I'm really good at using available light and just using minimal amount of fires to enhance it.
And so, by fires you mean, like, artificial lights? So I've done some paraphrasing, or tried to understand some of these terms that I know nothing about. I think we've started to dig a little bit deeper into Raqesh's background, which is really interesting. From the landscape photography into the cinematography, right? And so, I think to follow up, you know, just as the final question for this demo, how have you have you kept up with this sort of stuff, right? Because I'm sure the hardware has changed over time and these techniques have changed over time, so, how do you keep up with that sort of thing?
Well, one of the things I do is, since I'm a freelance writer for a trade journal, I get to go to, I get to attend very large conferences and I get access to press-only events and I get to talk to a lot of the vendors as well as network with people in the industry. So I get a lot of, I get opportunities to ask a lot about technology from people who make it as well as from people who use it in, like, L.A. and overseas, people actually making their living in films.
Awesome. So now we have, we've surfaced this third thread about being a freelance writer, so you can see that we're starting to have a map of Raqesh's life, his career, and the things that we're trying to understand in terms of how he's been learning over time. So, you can see it's a little bit of an artificial interview format, but in a real setting it's really going from me having a list of questions to just having an organic conversation, right? My main goal is listening and to keep the conversation going, and if that means me improvising because he's revealed some new thing that's interesting, I should just go for it. That's why I have a note taker, that's why I'm recording this conversation if this were a real conversation. But you see a little bit now of how you apply this, right? Sometimes I just sit back, I'm silent sponge, other times I'm trying to paraphrase or just getting clarification, and that's when it's okay to ask these, like, yes no questions or did I understand kind of questions. And then finally, with the probing puppy, I'm really just getting things open ended, right? I had no idea that he was a freelance writer too, but he revealed that as new information that's potentially interesting for me too. So, using these three mascots, it helps me just keep those conversations going, keep these interviews going. So, thank you so much Raqesh. (audience applauding) Alright. Really appreciate you guys opening up. I know it's a little bit of an artificial environment here. We don't do the interrogation lights when we're doing our user interviews here, but to make good TV for you guys on the internet, we definitely want to make that available.