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NOTES
ARE NOT
ENOUGH!
@ashdonaldson
Design Research 2017, Sydney
Resurgence of research
I decided that we
shouldn’t even look at
the notes. We’d just go
with our gut.
Senior Researcher
playing back findings
We can all capture stories…
…but are they true?
*sniff*
Communication feels
intuitive…
…but it’s really complex
The great enemy of
communication, we
find, is the illusion of
it.
William H. Whyte
Communication can be
critical
Melbourne
tower, this is
Alpha Echo
Charlie
inbound from
the South at
5,000.
Request
descent...
An interview is a
directed conversation.
J. & L. Lofland
How we think about
thinking…
Mental models of the mind
Hydraulic
Mental models of the mind
Hydraulic Mechanistic
Mental models of the mind
Hydraulic Mechanistic Information Processor
Information Processor Model
- Fixed focus
- Captures everything
Information Processor Model
- Fixed focus
- Captures everything
- Logically interpreted
- Systematically classified
Information Processor Model
- Fixed focus
- Captures everything
- Logically interpreted
- Systematically classified
- Store...
Information Processor Model
- Fixed focus
- Captures everything
- Logically interpreted
- Systematically classified
- Store...
How communication
works…
It all starts with an intent
Sender
that intent exists within an
environment
Sender
Interviewer’s environment
the intent needs to be
expressed as an idea
Sender
Interviewer’s environment
Encodes
through a channel
Sender
Interviewer’s environment
Encodes
Channel
carrying transmitted
information
Sender
Interviewer’s environment
Encodes Message
Channel
which has to be perceived
Sender
Interviewer’s environment
Encodes Message
Channel Channel
[ attention is limited ]
• We don’t have a fixed attention
• Serial switching: Can only attend to one thing at a time
• Eas...
[ perception is tiny ]
• We don’t take everything in as input
• We perceive only tiny fragments
• Our minds construct a se...
Inattentional Blindness: The Monkey Business Illusion - https://youtu.be/f94o3B3csYI
…and interpreted by the
receiver
Sender
Interviewer’s environment
ReceiverEncodes Message Decodes
Participant’s environmen...
[ cognition ]
• Our brains do not function like CPUs
• Our cognition is based on pattern matching
• We draw heavily on pas...
Nothing is so difficult
as not deceiving
oneself.
L. Wittgenstein
https://www.ted.com/talks/michael_shermer_on_believing_strange_things
[ memory ]
• We do not store information like a hard drive
• Long-term memory is constructive
• The more you remember it, ...
Interviewer’s environment Participant’s environment
both parties have a history
Sender ReceiverEncodes Message Decodes
Cha...
then a signal is sent back
Sender
Interviewer’s environment
Receiver
Receiver
Sender
Encodes Message
Message
Decodes
Parti...
Noise Noise Noise Noise
…of course, there’s always
some type of noise
Sender
Interviewer’s environment
Receiver
Receiver
S...
Noise Noise Noise Noise
Transactional model of
communication
Sender
Interviewer’s environment
Receiver
Receiver
Sender
Enc...
Notes take effort
CPM-GOMS of a note
Add a third perspective
Interviewer’s environment Participant’s environment
Notetaker’s environment
So what should you do?
1. Record your interview
When reviewing the footage I
saw their expressions in the
moments when I was looking
away. It was intense, and
important t...
Recording interviews:
Tips
• Craft a good recording release
• Aim for video. If not, use audio
• Skype or Facetime: We use...
Recording interviews:
Equipment
2. Get transcripts
We had 3 notetakers for one
of our interviews (most
notetakers I’ve ever had) and
I just combed the transcript.
We missed ...
Transcripts:
Tips
• Use participant coding e.g. T1P03
• REV.com US$1/min
• Clients appreciate research documentation
• Cle...
3. Build in enough
analysis time
Analysis:
Tips
• Create a cadence that allows digestion
• Allow at least 3x the research time
• Build the time into projec...
Notes are not enough!
• Recordings and transcripts give objective feedback:
• Re-live stumbles and correct next time
• Eve...
Questions?
@ashdonaldson
Tobias
&
Tobias
Upcoming SlideShare
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Notes are not enough! Why relying on your notes will lead you down the garden path.

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You take great notes, right? Have you ever compared them to a transcript?

It’s amazing how much of the important stuff we miss as we take the time to interpret what someone says, formulate what we’re going to write, then go through the physical act of writing before switching back into listening again.

In this presentation we’ll walk through the model of communication, exploring the limitations of perception, cognition, attention and memory. By the end I hope you’ll appreciate why your notes are not enough.

Presented at Design Research 2017, Sydney

Published in: Design
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Notes are not enough! Why relying on your notes will lead you down the garden path.

  1. 1. NOTES ARE NOT ENOUGH! @ashdonaldson Design Research 2017, Sydney
  2. 2. Resurgence of research
  3. 3. I decided that we shouldn’t even look at the notes. We’d just go with our gut. Senior Researcher playing back findings
  4. 4. We can all capture stories… …but are they true? *sniff*
  5. 5. Communication feels intuitive… …but it’s really complex
  6. 6. The great enemy of communication, we find, is the illusion of it. William H. Whyte
  7. 7. Communication can be critical Melbourne tower, this is Alpha Echo Charlie inbound from the South at 5,000. Request descent to join downwind of zero niner at 1,000.
  8. 8. An interview is a directed conversation. J. & L. Lofland
  9. 9. How we think about thinking…
  10. 10. Mental models of the mind Hydraulic
  11. 11. Mental models of the mind Hydraulic Mechanistic
  12. 12. Mental models of the mind Hydraulic Mechanistic Information Processor
  13. 13. Information Processor Model - Fixed focus - Captures everything
  14. 14. Information Processor Model - Fixed focus - Captures everything - Logically interpreted - Systematically classified
  15. 15. Information Processor Model - Fixed focus - Captures everything - Logically interpreted - Systematically classified - Stored faithfully - High definition
  16. 16. Information Processor Model - Fixed focus - Captures everything - Logically interpreted - Systematically classified - Stored faithfully - High definition
  17. 17. How communication works…
  18. 18. It all starts with an intent Sender
  19. 19. that intent exists within an environment Sender Interviewer’s environment
  20. 20. the intent needs to be expressed as an idea Sender Interviewer’s environment Encodes
  21. 21. through a channel Sender Interviewer’s environment Encodes Channel
  22. 22. carrying transmitted information Sender Interviewer’s environment Encodes Message Channel
  23. 23. which has to be perceived Sender Interviewer’s environment Encodes Message Channel Channel
  24. 24. [ attention is limited ] • We don’t have a fixed attention • Serial switching: Can only attend to one thing at a time • Easily distracted: Directed Attention Fatigue (DAF) • Expensive and rapidly exhausted • Affected by sleep, stress, 
 nutrition, medications, age 
 & exposure to external stimuli
  25. 25. [ perception is tiny ] • We don’t take everything in as input • We perceive only tiny fragments • Our minds construct a seamless movie • We more readily perceive things we expect • Pilots divide the sky into 
 quadrants to scan for aircraft • Look under a pier: you’ll notice 
 more fish the longer you look
  26. 26. Inattentional Blindness: The Monkey Business Illusion - https://youtu.be/f94o3B3csYI
  27. 27. …and interpreted by the receiver Sender Interviewer’s environment ReceiverEncodes Message Decodes Participant’s environment Channel Channel
  28. 28. [ cognition ] • Our brains do not function like CPUs • Our cognition is based on pattern matching • We draw heavily on past experiences and present cues • We satisfice - stopping when we have enough information to make a conclusion • We are subject to many predictable biases
  29. 29. Nothing is so difficult as not deceiving oneself. L. Wittgenstein
  30. 30. https://www.ted.com/talks/michael_shermer_on_believing_strange_things
  31. 31. [ memory ] • We do not store information like a hard drive • Long-term memory is constructive • The more you remember it, the further from the truth it is • Short-term memory is fleeting • Fills quickly (4 chunks - not 5 to 7) • Gets replaced by the next thing we attend to • Has limited duration (10 to 20 seconds)
  32. 32. Interviewer’s environment Participant’s environment both parties have a history Sender ReceiverEncodes Message Decodes Channel Channel
  33. 33. then a signal is sent back Sender Interviewer’s environment Receiver Receiver Sender Encodes Message Message Decodes Participant’s environment EncodesDecodes Channel Channel Channel Channel Feedback Feedback
  34. 34. Noise Noise Noise Noise …of course, there’s always some type of noise Sender Interviewer’s environment Receiver Receiver Sender Encodes Message Message Decodes Participant’s environment EncodesDecodes Channel Channel Channel Channel Feedback Feedback
  35. 35. Noise Noise Noise Noise Transactional model of communication Sender Interviewer’s environment Receiver Receiver Sender Encodes Message Message Decodes Participant’s environment EncodesDecodes Channel Channel Channel Channel Feedback Feedback
  36. 36. Notes take effort
  37. 37. CPM-GOMS of a note
  38. 38. Add a third perspective Interviewer’s environment Participant’s environment Notetaker’s environment
  39. 39. So what should you do?
  40. 40. 1. Record your interview
  41. 41. When reviewing the footage I saw their expressions in the moments when I was looking away. It was intense, and important to re-live some of these interviews seeing new things. Natalie Rowland Qualitative Specialist (redrollers)
  42. 42. Recording interviews: Tips • Craft a good recording release • Aim for video. If not, use audio • Skype or Facetime: We use eCamm’s Call Recorder • Aim for a quiet, well-lit space in context • Test your recording equipment
  43. 43. Recording interviews: Equipment
  44. 44. 2. Get transcripts
  45. 45. We had 3 notetakers for one of our interviews (most notetakers I’ve ever had) and I just combed the transcript. We missed about 15 critical points that were said. Alyce Lythall Senior Researcher (Tobias & Tobias)
  46. 46. Transcripts: Tips • Use participant coding e.g. T1P03 • REV.com US$1/min • Clients appreciate research documentation • Clean up your audio
  47. 47. 3. Build in enough analysis time
  48. 48. Analysis: Tips • Create a cadence that allows digestion • Allow at least 3x the research time • Build the time into projects up front • If you can’t sell analysis time, hide it • Use Quicktime Pro or similar that will allow you to playback recordings at 3x • Comb transcripts for insights and verbatims
  49. 49. Notes are not enough! • Recordings and transcripts give objective feedback: • Re-live stumbles and correct next time • Every interview recording is an opportunity to become a better researcher • Recordings and transcripts = Good data in
  50. 50. Questions? @ashdonaldson Tobias & Tobias

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