In this week's interview we meet Sandy Claes, user researcher at VRT Innovatie and the creative talent responsible for the telling illustrations that have accompanied the MARCONI scenarios.
Hi Sandy! Could you tell something about yourself to our readers?
Hi all! I am a user researcher at VRT innovation, which means I investigate the needs of end-users, such as listeners and radio makers in the MARCONI project. I am also closely involved in another European project on the possibilities of hybrid radio, i.e. HRadio.eu. This means I often organise and moderate workshops to brainstorm or co-create with these users. Besides this, I guard the setup of such user research at our group, and contribute to other projects (e.g. that deal with smart cities) or project proposals. Even in my spare time, I like to moderate co-creation workshops for the design of a community garden in my town :).
How are you bringing your background into the interaction and validation with users?
My background is multi-disciplinary: I have a PhD in Engineering Science, in which I studied how to engage citizens with data by presenting data visualizations within the urban environment. By designing and making public visualization prototypes, I studied how citizens interact with data. In this PhD research and also at VRT, I typically use design thinking as a research approach to understand the design problem in its complexity. Prototypes and mock-ups are designed and developed through ideation, iteration and critiquing solutions with end-users. I believe it is valuable to also design the research experience: end-users are more engaged in the process when they can connect to the problem. Therefore, my background in animated film and motion design helps to translate the problem to an engaging presentation. Furthermore, as a designer, I understand what a designer will need, which helps to translate findings to actual design insights.
What surprised you the most in the workshops with users?
I was pleasantly surprised about the overlap between findings of the workshop with radio makers and findings of the listeners. For instance, listeners raised the point that radio items are not always relevant, or might take too long. To give feedback to the radio makers, they envisioned an application to give feedback. This concept overlaps with the needs defined by several radio makers (of VRT and StadtFilter).
Listeners found it frustrating to miss interesting content, they were also wondering if the rich content could be explored on a later basis. They envisioned concepts (such an application that would push older items that are linked to a particular location) to discover content of the radio archive. Similarly, radio makers also referred to the radio archive as a potential source of information for more personalized services.
What are you looking forward to test within the MARCONI pilots?
Personally, I am triggered by the idea of the co-creation of radio with listeners, and how a public broadcaster could play a role in this. However, I think this idea holds complex challenges that go beyond the scope of this project (such as deontological codes in journalism). I am also very interested in the concept of ‘lively environment’, which is a part of the first user scenario. This concept is about making interaction with listeners visible to radio presenters (DJ’s) during the show on digital screens. As such, also the television experience of live radio can be enhanced.
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Care to connect? You can find Sandy at Linkedin.