History Continues

My work on the history of user experience in Southeast Michigan is continuing slowly and steadily. The biggest obstacle, unsurprisingly, is that paid work always takes precedence over the history project. Not that I necessarily want to get paid for the history project. It would be super scary to actually be obligated to complete it. I have to admit, though, it would also be exhilarating to have this work be my primary job.

I’m hard pressed to identify what is most time-consuming about this work, but my best take on it, in ascending order of time-consuming-ness, is:

  • Interviewing people
  • Booking interviews with people
  • Transcribing interviews and otherwise digesting what I’ve learned
  • Assembling a narrative from all this information I’m gathering

I do think, however, that the narrative will get easier at some point. I’ve already found that to a certain extent, some of my interview subjects have shed light on episodes that I otherwise have a handle on.

I still have to push further into talking to people about the post-2005 time period. I’ve addressed it a bit, and the oddest part of trying to write about it is that I start to enter the story after 2005. I’m not sure how, exactly, to handle it. I’m also pondering the issue of whether to expand my scope beyond the rather arbitrary boundary of Southeast Michigan and just encompass Michigan and part of Ohio. I know far fewer people outside of Southeast Michigan, but places like Lansing and Grand Rapids have had an impact on events in my home region. Also: How much do I talk about non-UX things like the local Society for Technical Communications and human factors work (such as in the auto industry).

It’s hard to say how I could ever truly be done with this project. Well, obviously – history has a way of continuing to happen. Even so, it’s hard to see where I’m going to call it “finished” if I’m working at this rate. I have no plan to abandon the project yet, but even if I do at some point, I suppose a half-finished history is more helpful than no history at all.