I am grateful that this assignment required us to “research” our own use of technology in our personal and private lives. I monitored the way that I used technology on my iPhone and my desktop for a week. My use of technology was tracked with the trusted technology of pen and paper; I would write down my interactions once or twice a day from memory. When the time came to make sense of my data, I was pleasantly surprised to see how calculated my use of technology was. My surprise arose from the fact that my generation, Gen Y, are constantly reprimanded by older generations for their mindless and constant use of technology. For example, when describing Gen Y, Millennial Marketing (n.d.) writes:
digital media so pervades their lives they cannot imagine living without it.
Until I completed this assignment, I always allowed myself to believe that my pervasive relationship with technology was something that I should be ashamed of. I believed that the time I spent with technology was detracting from living my life in the ‘real world’. Now I am able to recognize that technology is a part of the ‘real world’ and I argue that today it plays an essential role. The truth is that technology does so pervade our lives that we cannot imagine living without it (Millennial Marketing, n.d.). This statement is truthful and it must stop being reproachful. I can’t help but imagine millennials of the 20th century also being subjected to a similar scolding. Extra, Extra! Electricity so pervades the lives of 20th century young adults that they cannot imagine living without it! I am not suggesting that all Gen Ys have a healthy relationship with technology or that there aren’t issues concerning technology and social etiquette that are still to be addressed. However, as Kerner (2013) states, ‘for Gen Y, technology is more than an addiction … it is how they discover, understand and experience the world around them. And it’s how they always have.” Without technology I would not be so connected with my friends, I would not have learnt so much about my hobbies and interests, I would not have a part-time job, I would not have completed a bachelors degree or even high school. Could all of these things be achieved without technology? Yes. But in the 21st century we choose to achieve these tasks with it. I learnt that my use of technology is indeed pervasive but in no way mindless or wasteful.
My research for the persona allowed me to recognize how useful personas are. Firstly, my research allowed me to notice that I have specific goals, needs and motivations for using technology that are not generic or even shared with all of Gen Y. I identified myself as ‘The Inquisitive Postgrad’ – I can imagine that many others would be able to identity with this persona. Should ‘The Inquisitive Postgrad’ be the likely users of an organisation’s products or services, this organisation can use this persona to develop their technology in a way that suits the users (Goltz, 2014). This suitability is profitable for the organisation for it makes the users more likely to use their products and services (O’Conner, 2011). It is, however, also profitable for the user for they are dealing with products and services that strive to meet their needs. In this way, I see the use of personas and user design as a valuable endeavor.
I was, however, intrigued as to why organisations would go to the lengths of creating a persona, rather than just using the data collected from the interviews and observations with users (Goltz  states that interviews and observations are the most common way of collecting data for personas). As a library and information practice student I have always been taught that a product or service is redundant unless it meets the needs of the library’s users and I believe this is true to almost the same extent in business settings. Therefore, I understand that a large amount of research must be put into developing products and services, drawing upon data gained from user surveys and statistics, for example. I had never heard of personas being used, though. Goltz (2014) states that using personas is more effective than using data for two main reasons. Firstly, you do not have to deal with the data of the hundreds of people you surveyed. this data is reduced to only a couple of personas (Goltz, 2014). Secondly, when the data is used to create personas, it becomes anthropomorphized (Glotz, 2014). That is, it is a lot easier to design for a human who has goals, needs, motivations and pain points rather than pages of data; personas become people (Goltz, 2014). I thought it was rather sweet when Goltz (2014) stated that people in his team refer to the personas by name when mentioning them in their design discussions.
One aspect of the assignment that I struggled with was knowing which technologies to include in the persona. I chose to create my persona in order to address the following issue in assignment three: ‘a library that is seeking new ways to connect with patrons to encourage higher attendance at their events and also feedback and suggestions regarding events’. At first I thought it would be important to include every aspect of my interaction with technology so that the library would have a holistic understanding. This proved impossible! Where do you draw the line? Technically a book is also technology! How would I quantify every way that I achieve my goals outside of the parameters of electronic technology? I do it so intuitively. After consulting some personas that are publicly available, such as these ones from Xtensio (n.d) I discovered that they very specifically reflect the product or service that is being created. When I realized that the library was looking for a way to publicize and communicate with its users, I realized the library would only be interested in ways that ‘The Intrigued Postgrad’ used technology that would allow the library to promote and communicate. Therefore, I only included these technologies,
I believe that this assignment has allowed me to learn more about the way that I interact with technology and my understanding of personas and how they are developed.
Goltz, S. (2014). A closer look at personas: What they are and how they work (Part 1). Retrieved from https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2014/08/a-closer-look-at-personas-part-1/
Kerner, N. (2013). Trying to understand Gen Y? Get confortable with being uncomfortable. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/onmarketing/2013/07/03/trying-to-understand-gen-y-get-comfortable-with-being-uncomfortable/#4d7986ad263c
Millennial Marketing (n.d). Millennials tech-dependent, but not necessarily tech-savvy. Retrieved from http://www.millennialmarketing.com/2010/04/millennials-tech-dependent-but-not-necessarily-tech-savvy/
O’Connor, K. (2011). Personas: The foundation of a great user experience. Retrieved from https://uxmag.com/articles/personas-the-foundation-of-a-great-user-experience
Xtensio (n.d) User persona creator. Retrieved on 14 April 2016 from https://xtensio.com/user-persona/