This week, our class got to analyze a Design Probes package from an anonymous student in the class, and make conjectures about their life, values, and interests. I found this project to be fascinating, both from the perspective of completing my own packet, and from that of analyzing someone else’s.
During the day that I completed my Design Probes packet, I was forced to think about every individual action I took throughout the day. Photographing these events–every meal I ate, every garment I wore, and every place I went–made me think about how I spend my time, what my priorities are, and how much I actually consume on any given day. Additionally, deciding which of my possessions are most important to me in order to photograph them made me really consider what I value the most. I learned from selecting my objects that I value gifts from the ones I love, objects that I associate with different places, and small sentimental notes from my boyfriend or family. Although I didn’t expect to learn much from documenting my own day, I actually found that I gained a sense of perspective about what my life may look like from the outside. I assume that if I were to document more days, I would learn more about how I truly spend my time.
Analyzing someone else’s Design Probes packet was also fascinating to me. Although the packet we got was rather light on pictures, it was still very interesting to piece together an idea of what that person’s life is like. We found that we were able to come up with quite a detailed narrative about this person’s values, and while I’m sure not everything we came up with was actually true, we were surprised at how much we could surmise from her pictures.
I can now see why Design Probes are such an effective tool for empathic designers. I didn’t expect to learn as much from this assignment as I did, and that was a pleasant surprise. I now see how much information can be gathered from these packets, and how beneficial it is to be introspective about one’s own life.