It’s hard to create a persona without basic research. Although various professional experiences have taught me (how) to treat my fellow human beings as data when necessary, most of my life has been a lesson against stereotyping. Bred in a 10-house cul-de-sac in which 7 different languages from 3 different continents were spoken, I spent my teenage years in a very class-diverse high school, and now as one of few visibly disabled people in Bloomington, I have become a token of an academically fashionable “diversity;” all of these experiences taught me again and again that identity categories don’t determine who people are, what they like, or what they think. I know that the social sciences tell us different (and differently), but that hasn’t been my experience—well, it hasn’t been my experience that the data extractable from identity categories define an individual’s inner life.
Anyway, with the basic research that would yield me meaning-shallow identity categories foreclosed upon, I created personae on a spectrum a la Garrett for our next class’s warm-up exercise. Not out of whole cloth, though: I thought of people I know in real life who use the site whose IA I propose to re-design (Susan Miller’s AstrologyZone) who are far apart from each other in terms of identity categories (mainly class and education). One is a young-ish single mom in Bloomington who owns a small business and lives just above poverty; another is a single woman in early middle age who works on Wall Street and lives comfortably in an outer borough of New York City. The personae brought me to conclusions that are contrary to what many social science narratives tell us about class and spiritual beliefs: the latter woman behaves as if she believes in astrology; it represents a business proposition for the former.
I complained about maladaptive IA (if we can extend the furniture at Starbucks that far) last week; and, in my limited experience, it seems that “seeing” people through normative identity categories yields poor information about how a person will use an electronic resource, particularly one like AstrologyZone whose product offerings have low or no cost barrier. Garrett’s “motivation” factor seems useful in directing IA development; can you all think of qualia beyond the classic categories of class-color-sex, etc., that might also be helpful in directing it?