Ever since high school math, finding the value of 'x' eluded me. It didn't matter how hard I focussed in class or how well I understood the concepts–a challenging math problem took me many exasperating hours to solve. I really tried to get better at it, pouring in several hours of my teenage into finding this unknown quantity. But nothing worked. What began as an exercise in algebra, ended as an exercise in futility. When I looked inside myself to understand the cause, the answer seemed just as far as the arithmetic 'x'.
Many years and countless musings later, I found it.
As a graduate student at the UC Berkeley School of Information focusing on product design and behavioral economics, I took a class in quantitative research to round out my skills. We were supposed to use R to perform intense calculations on large data sets–I sailed through it. Assignment after assignment, I had little difficulty in finding things like the variance in the wedding age among thousands of men who responded to the General Social Survey in 1993. Knowing the significance of the unknown quantity made all the difference.
Reflecting on it, I couldn't find the value of 'x' because I didn't see the value in 'x'.
This is why I feel privileged to be a designer: it allows me to empathize with the unknown; to add value to the human in human-centered design. In a world where it's becoming increasingly easier to design the thing right, I think there's tremendous value in designing the right thing. This is my motivation for being a designer and my aspiration for the projects I work on.
Some of my favorite things:
Favorite podcasts: Design Details and Mixed Methods
Favorite books: 1984 and The Kite Runner
Favorite food: Butter Chicken (undisputed favorite of any true Delhiite)
Favorite talk: Wilson Miner - When We Build