In Jesse James Garrett’s The Elements of User Experience, he describes “one of those days” we’ve all experienced during which it seems as if absolutely nothing will go our way. While we may just pin it down to bad luck, such a series of misfortunes is often caused by the information gaps that tend to exist between us and the technologies we use, and, according to Garrett, this “bad luck” could be avoided if products were designed in ways that better took into account the “user experience,” “the experience the product creates for the people who use it in the real world” (6).
I had one of these days last week when working on our video project, and, after reading the first chapter of Garrett’s book, realized how much of my misfortune was actually caused by the convolution of the technologies I’d encountered throughout the day (and yes, perhaps a little bit of my own poor time management).
I was leaving for a cross country meet at 3:30 and, because the video project was due the next day (always leaving things to the last second….again, the technologies weren’t completely to blame) was determined to get the last pieces of footage I would need to complete the project during the bus ride to Charlottesville, Virginia. First of all, I made the mistake of using a total of FOUR different cameras to film, one of them including the gargantuan camera we use to film our packages in Broadcast Communications. This camera works with tape and thus requires a tape player to transfer footage to a computer. I realized it would probably take a little while to transfer the footage from the computer in the Communications lab to my own, but I never imagined just how difficult it would actually be. We work with Adobe Premiere in Broadcast Communications (why I do not know – it seems completely archaic to me), and getting the files off the computer and translating them to a format that Final Cut Pro could recognize was a feat I’m still not entirely sure how I managed to pull off. It took me 4 hours. At one point, I actually considered setting up a tripod and just filming the computer screen.
Another misadventure involved one of the other three cameras I used to film the project: the GoPro. Having finally succeeded in transferring those files from the lab computer to my own, I had about an hour and a half to spare before I was expected on the bus, and so it was time to go film my first person point of view shots of the Furman Elite Track Club’s various training venues. I stuck the camera to a mount on my bike and made my way to the track where, after literally fifty meters around the track, the camera died. If you’ve never seen a GoPro, they are equipped with two buttons – one for both powering on and off and recording/taking pictures and one for making selections in the menu displayed on an extremely tiny screen. While the GoPro’s compactness is certainly one of its selling points, it’s easy to forget which button also serves as the power button, and so, naturally, I had left the then fully charged camera on when using it the previous day only to find it completely useless to me there at the track. So I rushed back to my apartment to charge it and take a look at the three seconds of footage I’d gotten to make sure it looked okay before I proceeded to get more, placing the camera’s memory card in my computer where I would later forget to retrieve it before I made my way back to the track a second time. Finally, memory card in camera, I ventured to the track for the THIRD and final time, took a quick lap, and then hauled myself over to the Swamp Rabbit to get some footage of the trail.
At this point, it was 3:15. A teammate witnessed me barreling down the road as she was walking to the bus and laughed and shouted after me (it’s not really all that uncommon that I find myself in these sorts of situations, which means I provide my teammates with daily entertainment). I got the footage, raced back to my apartment, grabbed my stuff, sprinted to my car, and took off down the road – making it to the bus at 3:30 on the dot. Now, might I just say that through all of that I’d managed to stay relatively composed (I’m generally a pretty mellow person). However, once I got to my seat (and not without first receiving a remark from my coach about my [near] tardiness), I opened my bag to discover that the bottle of beet juice (yeah….it’s just as disgusting as it sounds) that I’d hastily thrown in there had leaked all over the rest of my stuff. STILL successfully retaining my composure, I went to place the bottle in the mesh pocket on the back of the seat in front of me to assess the damage at the bottom of my bag (my copy of Jane Eyre‘s a tad worse for the wear….) only to discover that the pocket was ripped at the bottom. The bottle of beet juice fell to the floor, spilling a substantial amount of dirt-scented liquid on route and finally sending me over the edge. I spent a good 20 minutes inside my sweatshirt.
As Garrett points out, most of this could have been avoided had certain technologies been designed in a way that was a little more user-friendly. And, you know, I probably could have done the project a little sooner, too.