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Category: Design

Anatomy of a Good Day

It was a 13-hour return to the world for me today after a little over a week recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery. Recovery was slow going; the drugs were rough, and the intubation sore throat bad enough that I’m still not on a full solid diet yet. But at the end of my long day, my knee sore and cranky at the exertion, driving across the 520 bridge, I felt almost on top of the world. (No, I wasn’t still on the painkillers.) The day that started early with my postoperative appointment at my surgeon’s office. It’s the end of…

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Evolving the Message

This past year has marked the beginning of what I suspect will be a long journey for me (and hopefully others!) to improve the state of STEM education in the country with a sort of grassroots approach. There are many different demographics to focus on, and I’ve chosen to focus on what I know and what I can speak to – women in STEM careers. There’s plenty of room for others who choose to focus on different demographics, but between my personal passion on the subject and the significant decline in female interest in STEM careers like computer science, the call…

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Seattle IxDA – Women in Design event

I’m delighted to announce that I will be speaking at the next Seattle meeting of the Interaction Design Association! “Women in Design” Wednesday, May 11 University of Washington Campus Electrical Engineering building, room 105 7:30 PM – doors open at 7PM Flyer: click here I’ll be delivering an updated/expanded version of my Computer Engineer Barbie talk, and will be participating in a panel discussion with Jenny Lam, co-founder and designer at the Jackson Fish Market, a software startup. If you have any questions you’d like to see answered, leave a comment here – if there’s time, I’d love to continue the…

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The Accessibility of the Physical Universe

Having an injury certainly opens your eyes to what others have been dealing with for lifetimes. The friend I mentioned in my earlier post about pain medication has (after 2 months) returned to the office for short periods of time. Today, we ended up talking and expressing our mutual shock at just how HEAVY the doors are at Microsoft. It’s not something an able-bodied person might notice on a day to day basis, but for anyone mobility challenged it can be quite an effort. That’s why I didn’t return to work until I was crutch-free seven weeks after my original knee injury last year – I knew that there was no way I could balance my weight on one foot trying not to drop crutches while simultaneously waving my badge and pulling on the door. Untenable. And frustating… realizing that you can be defeated by a simple door does not inspire one with a lot of confidence about their recovery.

As you explore the world in your somewhat impaired state, you become much more attuned to intentional affordances – but even more so, the lack of intentional affordances in many places. Sometimes the shortfall is simple and severe – I tried to attend a show at the Paramount Theatre last year while still on crutches, using VIP tickets gifted by a kind friend. But the VIP section was on the third floor balcony… and the Paramount has NO ELEVATORS. It boggled my mind that one of the largest venues in Seattle has such a significant accessibility problem. The best they could do for me and a friend is to put temporary chairs at the far left of a row in the orchestra section – fairly bad angle, especially when compared to what we could have had. Have handicapped folks been shoved to the side all this time at that venue?

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On Service Design: Pain Medication

Service design is another branch of interaction design, like user experience, that focuses on a holistic view of systems that may or may not involve technology. In simple terms, service design seeks to improve how humans interact with a service or provider.

While many of us have encountered narcotic painkillers like Vicodin or Percocet (hello, spambots) for use after minor injuries or procedures like wisdom tooth removal, it’s a whole new ballgame if you’ve had the misfortune of needing a serious procedure due to illness or injury. Based on my personal experience and the experience of close friends, it feels like there’s a major hole in the service offerings of most medical providers when it comes to ending the use of this sort of medication.

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