When/Where/How did you decide to be a designer?

18 Dec 2007 - 3:35pm
6 years ago
32 replies
2358 reads
.pauric
2006

Brian Hoffman wrote in another thread: "While many of you have
followed a very straight career path into interaction design, I'm
probably not alone here in having come into this field along a more
winding path."

I think many of us took the long winding path actually. I was
wondering if we could hear some stories about those pivotal moments in
our careers where we changed from being 'X' in to Interaction
Designers....

I fell off the engineering centric wagon in 1996 when I was writing
code for a chip that made the LEDs flash on the front of a 10/100
ethernet hub, i.e. the 'interface'. I had to solve a number of
technical issues translating the large array of information inside the
chip in to the limited abilities of the LEDs . In looking around for
tools/thinking to correctly solve these problems I chose some UCD
principles. A couple of months later I used the similar principles to
discovered a major usability bug and had a product placed on ship
hold. From there on out I was responsible for advocating the user.

regards -pauric

Comments

18 Dec 2007 - 4:01pm
Mark Schraad
2006

I have always had an interest in computers... since I was a child. One of my early freelance clients was the publisher of an HCI abstract series in the late 80's early 90's. I thought hmm, 'mixing graphics and computers... cool'. While those projects were few and far between in the midwest, when the web hit a few years later we (co-workers and I) were all over it.

Mark

On Tuesday, December 18, 2007, at 03:36PM, "pauric" <pauric at pauric.net> wrote:
> I was
>wondering if we could hear some stories about those pivotal moments in
>our careers where we changed from being 'X' in to Interaction
>Designers....
>

18 Dec 2007 - 4:15pm
Fred Beecher
2006

On 12/18/07, pauric <pauric at pauric.net> wrote:
>
>
> I think many of us took the long winding path actually. I was
> wondering if we could hear some stories about those pivotal moments in
> our careers where we changed from being 'X' in to Interaction
> Designers....

Fun thread.. I remember that moment for me very clearly.

I was in college studying technical writing and fully expecting to graduate,
move to the Bay Area, and write technical manuals for Adobe when it
happened.

I was programming a sound on my newly acquired (this was 1997 or 8) Kurzweil
K2000 synthesizer when I noticed that the pitch fine tune parameter was a
lot different than I was used to seeing it. On most digital (or
analog/digital hybrid) synthesizers (of that time and before, anyway), sound
parameters could be set at a value between 0 and 127. This is *completely
arbitrary* and is an artifact of MIDI, a language that lets electronic
musical instruments tell one another what to do. MIDI is a 7-bit language.
Seven bits can only represent 128 distinct values, so musicians were stuck
with setting things up how the machines needed them to be... not how *they*
needed them to be.

What was different about the K2000 was that the pitch fine tune parameter
was in cents, an actual unit of pitch and something that many musicians and
most sound designers would understand. It hit me that someone took the time
to adapt the machine to the musician rather than being lazy and doing it the
other way round. And then it hit me that I wanted to be one of those people
who took the time to figure that stuff out and design for it... I wanted to
design user interfaces! Ideally, I wanted to design synthesizer user
interfaces, but I haven't gotten the opportunity to do that yet, but
designing for the Web has been highly entertaining.

I switched the focus of my major to UI design, took some different courses,
and grabbed a very timely opportunity to help set up a usability lab for the
university's Web development team. From that moment, I have never looked
back...

F.

18 Dec 2007 - 4:50pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

> I was wondering if we could hear some stories about those pivotal moments
> in
> our careers where we changed from being 'X' in to Interaction
> Designers....

Great thread!

For me, it happened twice. The first time, I was a fledgling web code monkey
tasked with a redesign for an employer's site. As I went along, I got so
consumed with the IA, interaction, and flow of the site, that I ended up
creating this ... thing ... I had no idea I had in me. Seriously - it was a
big surprise.

I was gosh dern proud of my work, and was receiving so many compliments on
it, that I simply decided design was my favorite thing in the world and I
had to spend the rest of my life doing it.

Then I discovered Flash and saw all the wonderful potential there. Started
doing tons of Flash design work, and eventually realized I needed to become
a far better programmer in order to accomplish the things I wanted to do. So
I moved from a position of designing eLearning courses to being a hardcore
Flash developer in the Engineering dept of a major eLearning company. I
continued this for another employer. Prior to this, I wrote my first book,
on Flash design basics (Flash Out of the Box), did a ton of articles on
Flash, and generally spent way too much time as a GMC tester for
Macromedia's beta program. In other words, I got sucked into the world of
programming for about 2 years, straying pretty far from design work but
still struggling to do it as much as I could.

The whole time this was going on, I was all about the design of interactive
experiences. I hated writing code. Interaction design was always part of my
job and was always the best part of my job. I just didn't know it had a
name, and I thought it was the cool, bonus stuff I got to do while I had
some downtime from programming. I was always the user advocate, always
focused on application and human behavior, but I was ... trapped ... in this
awful world of code and bug reports.

Then one day, I read "The Inmates are Running the Asylum". And I suddenly
became very focused. That was the second time I became an interaction
designer. (Strangely, I've since denounced almost everything I learned from
that book, but that's a different story.)

I left the programming world, focused 100% on interaction design - the
things I always loved about my previous jobs, and more - and the rest is
history. I'm now writing my second book on web application design.

In fact, it's what I should be working on right now, instead of this post!

Thanks again for a great thread.

-r-

18 Dec 2007 - 5:05pm
bminihan
2007

Interesting topic =]

I made the decision about a year ago, actually.

I've always been a cartoonist and since 12 always wanted to do computer
animation (back when sprites were big, whoop!). Then I took 3 semesters of
engineering calculus in college and swore off computers as a career choice
entirely. Nevertheless, I took a retail job and worked my way into tech
support, then network engineering, then management. The whole time, through
10 years after college, I was constantly writing programs and "designing
things" for people. I never thought I was that good, but people thought I
had a knack for it. I organize stuff in my head, in pictures, so never had
much of a problem figuring out how to "arrange things". I would never say
I'm always right, but I like getting other people involved in the process,
so my projects tend to turn out almost "community-driven". It takes a
village, I guess.

I came late to the web, using it only for tech reference, but otherwise I
dismissed it as a glorified phone book (which it was, until about 1998).
Then I built a network for a startup company, and ended up redesigning &
building their ecommerce web site (it was one of the first WYSIWYG greeting
card web sites). I enjoyed the work but did almost everything. I get bored
quickly if I only have one job, for some reason.

Along about a year ago I was designing my 100th or so project for my last
company, and it hit me. Design (specifically, interface & interaction
design) is the only job I do that makes me mad when I'm not doing it.
Network engineering, tech support, coding, database design - I can let them
go if needed. But fine-tuning or building an interface from scratch -
that's unnerving. It gets under my skin and I can't sleep, eat or talk to
anyone for days (can you tell I'm in the middle of such a project right
now?).

That's when I decided I wanted to be an interaction designer, full time.
Everything I do leads me further down that path, even though I'm now "doing
everything" except the back-end coding for my new company. I love my job
for the first time in 5 years, not just because I do what I want, but
because I figured out what I want to be when I grow up.

Bryan
http://www.bryanminihan.com

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of pauric
Sent: Tuesday, December 18, 2007 3:36 PM
To: IXDA list
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] When/Where/How did you decide to be a designer?

I think many of us took the long winding path actually. I was
wondering if we could hear some stories about those pivotal moments in
our careers where we changed from being 'X' in to Interaction
Designers....

regards -pauric

18 Dec 2007 - 4:19pm
Jon Bell
2007

Hi everyone, I'm brand new to the list. What a great question for
introducing myself!

I was in art school in the late 90's, but frustrated with the lack of
web training. I sent my resume out, mostly in jest, and got leads
from Microsoft and RealNetworks. I picked RealNetworks, known far and
wide for its excellent user experience ;)

I went from unix-level support to a "content application engineer" to
a web developer to a UX developer in a different company, where I
finally got to work with real UX problems, rather than Real's unique
take on customer interactions. Next I'll be working in Flex/AIR and
owning a desktop app, which is the sort of thing I've been looking
forward to doing for years.

Jon

On Tuesday, December 18, 2007, at 03:36PM, "pauric" <pauric at pauric.net> wrote:
> > I was
> >wondering if we could hear some stories about those pivotal moments in
> >our careers where we changed from being 'X' in to Interaction
> >Designers....
> >
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

18 Dec 2007 - 4:55pm
Nick Quagliara
2007

biology major > switch to environmental science major > switch to
psychology major > graduate with b.a. in psych > behavioral tech in
supervised group living program for mentally ill adults > switch to
therapeutic recreation tech for mentally ill adults > client vomits
on my head > quit job > reenter school for second undergraduate
degree> major in computer science > talk to dean of school of
informatics > apply for hci master's program > major in hci > love
every minute of it > graduate with my m.s > work for Blackbaud

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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18 Dec 2007 - 5:02pm
Scott Cobban
2007

I come from a graphic design background and am trying to pickup more and
more programming bits of knowledge. I don't yet hold any title with
"Interaction" in it. I'm still a very broadly titled "Web Designer" at my
work, but I love it. By process of elimination (being the sole web
designer) and great interest, I play the role of Interaction Designer. I
definitely have an interest in the field. Baby steps, though.

I was lucky enough to have an uncle who owned his own company. I worked for
him during the summer of 2000 before my freshmen year at college. At one
point that summer, my uncle asked me to create a photo album for the
website. I got into HTML a bit using the CoffeeCup editor and was
fascinated. That gallery lead to creating a new website for the company
(2001) for them and eventually reworking the website for an updated version
in Flash (2004). Looking back, I disagree with the Flash site idea, but
that's not the point of this thread :-)

In 2000 - first year at college - I took over the role of webmaster of my a
cappella group which gave me a great canvas to work/test on. Sophomore year
I picked up a second major of Graphic Design. My work tended to be fairly
simple and minimalistic which is a style I wish I could stray away from
every now and then but I digress. I did an internship with a multimedia
design company as the web intern. It was around this time that I started to
realize that confusing websites were annoying and difficult to use. I began
to try to use common sense more in my designs and following basic ideas like
the fact that the main navigation shouldn't outweigh the sub-nav, content
should be legible, and elements should be able to breathe and easy to
find/use.

As I transitioned into the real world from college and was working in SEO, I
always wanted to redesign client sites to make them more usable (why work so
hard to send traffic to a site that people can't easily use?). While
looking for jobs in web design, wanting to leave SEO, I started to focus a
lot more in CSS and usability and fell in love with both.

I love that these realms are changing so frequently, but at the same time
there's so much information out there that I find it hard to wrap my head
around it all in order to determine what path I want to follow or
methodology I want to adopt.

Someday I will be an interaction designer! I'd get paid for doing something
I try to do automatically anyway!

- Scott

18 Dec 2007 - 6:34pm
Jack L. Moffett
2005

It was during my junior year of college, in the graphic design
program at WVU, that my professor took a group of us to a
"multimedia" design conference held at Marshall University. Jim
Ludtke presented the work he had done with The Residents on their
Freak Show CD-ROM. There was a lot of discussion about Myst. Most
importantly, Dan Boyarski showed the kinetic typography that had been
done in his classes and talked about the program at CMU. I had been
interested in computers ever since my grandfather purchased my family
a Commodore Vic-20 ( http://designaday.tumblr.com/post/21467908 ),
and had thought that Graphic Design was the perfect marriage between
computers and my first love, art. That conference opened my eyes to
greater possibilities, and I made it my goal to go to graduate school
for a Masters in Interaction Design.

I spent my senior year mastering Director, using it to create my
senior project and presentation. At the same time, I worked an
internship developing a CD-ROM-based textbook in Authorware for a
course for dental hygienists. By the time I graduated, I had been
accepted into the program at CMU.

I guess my path was about as straight as can be. I've been extremely
satisfied with my decisions.

A most enjoyable thread!
Jack

Jack L. Moffett
Interaction Designer
inmedius
412.459.0310 x219
http://www.inmedius.com

To design is much more than simply
to assemble, to order, or even to edit;
it is to add value and meaning,
to illuminate, to simplify, to clarify,
to modify, to dignify, to dramatize,
to persuade, and perhaps even to amuse.

- Paul Rand

18 Dec 2007 - 7:36pm
Jim Leftwich
2004

My interest in becoming an information and interaction designer
started very early.

My first icon set that I created (probably like most of my early
drawings - when I was supposed to be doing something else) was when I
was in the first grade in 1967:

http://www.anigami.com/jimwich/jimwich_archives/jwpicts_2_2005/Childhood_Drawings/4.html

TinyURL:
http://tinyurl.com/ytgrhj

My first interaction design project ("hardware" and "interaction
model") was a project I decided to do on our kitchen table in August
of 1971 just before I started 5th grade. I really wanted a computer,
and the only way I was going to get one was to build one. I started
with the design and interaction model. I built it as well, but
unfortunately no photos survived. A month later I took it to school
and demoed it to my classmates (a rural school where I had the same
29 classmates from Kindergarten through our Senior year):

http://www.orbitnet.com/waybackwhen/

And as soon as I graduated from Design School (which was a
combination of Product, Industrial, Graphic, Typographical, and
Environmental Design), I went right into Interaction Design
consulting (mostly on products in the early years) and never looked
back.

One of my first post-college projects that I did myself was this
flat-panel computer and associated storyboarded software model (for a
smart building). All of the screenshots were done on my 128k Mac.
And the model itself was all done in foamcore (and had a lot of
functionality and moving features).

http://www.orbitnet.com/1985_Flatpanel_Computer/

Jim

James Leftwich, IDSA
CXO - Chief Experience Officer
SeeqPod, Inc.
Emeryville, California
http://www.seeqpod.com

Orbit Interaction
Palo Alto, California
http://www.orbitnet.com

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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18 Dec 2007 - 8:02pm
Nicholas Iozzo
2007

It was during my junior year in college. I was interning as a Mechanical Engineer for a lock company (odds are I designed the lock on the vending machine you last used). I was struggling with the the CAD system, CAD was new to the mid-market then and the software was very unusable.

Coincidently, I was working on a new lock housing. The goal was to design a stronger housing that was also easier to assemble and manufacture. I thought it would be great if someone who designed the CAD system worried as much about me as I was worrying about the folks who where going to machine and assemble my lock. Then I remembered about a term I heard in my Intro to Psych class... Human Factors or something.

I took a few of those courses, loved it. Went on to get my Masters in Engineering Psychology. Was TAing a course on Intro to interface design when I heard about a web thing being developed across campus. This web thing turned out to be Mosaic, so we introduced this into our course and was teaching our students how to design usable home pages (as they where called then). The rest was downhill (or uphill) from that point.

This is my favorite question to ask folks during a the interview process. I have hardly ever heard the same answer. Over the course of interviewing 100's of folks, I have to say a rambling path to this profession is the only path senior level folks have taken. The more Junior folks seems to have a more straight forward path.

18 Dec 2007 - 6:55pm
Darren Ellis
2007

Oh, this is a good one!

I actually intended to go to school in graphic design and ended up
with a social anthropology degree instead. Near the end of college I
had already regretted that earlier decision and quickly enrolled in
art school after getting my degree for web/multimedia design.
Meanwhile, I landed a job as a copy editor and web producer for a
small .com in the late 90's and we were eventually gobbled up by
another .com. I transfered my roles to that company, and then
transitioned to production/asset management. This new role involved
working with multiple teams, releases, developing content, building
out Intranet sites, and setting up and organizing file systems. After
a few years and another university (this time user-centered design), I
FINALLY made my way into design. I cut my teeth on visual design
projects, but pushed my way towards interaction projects and
ultimately landed where I'm currently at. It's been a long journey,
but I'm finally happy with the type of work I'm doing. The great
thing is how all of my previous work developed me for this position.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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18 Dec 2007 - 4:08pm
Esteban Barahona
2006

It was basically from 2 parallel paths: one from my interest in art
and another from my interest in computing. Those paths met some day
after thinking that art in itself was not what I really wanted and
after investigating about Human-Computer Interfaces...

I searched and come up with Tog's "we have only ourselves to blame
(for the lack of knowledge about interaction design)". Then I
decided to start studying (product) design (for computing).

However after I started meditating frequently about 2 hours; I'm
about to start a new path that I don't know were it leads...
probably some form of computing or design related job plus a lot of
meditation.

The Interaction Design studies that I've searched worldwide are
either non-existant or prohibitively expensive. And I'm aware of
Return of Investment... with the %u20AC$ that cost a career it may be
a better investment to start a computer company (starting "small"
with case design and production for example)... but I've not decided
my future...

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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18 Dec 2007 - 11:12pm
Michael Micheletti
2006

My first inkling was eleven or twelve years ago when I created a Visual
Basic UI to the phone queues of a technical support call center. It was a
huge project - we thought it would be a simple integration exercise and it
turned into more of an invention (a year late, untested phone switch
interface, patents, you know the drill). I had access to a small usability
testing lab and asked them to test my onscreen phone controls. In the FIRST
THIRTY SECONDS OF THE FIRST TEST it became clear that my modal popup window
was not an ideal design for a customer service telephone UI. Sigh.
Simultaneous with thinking "Now we're a year and a month late..." I was
thinking that I needed to learn how to make better decisions about
application interfaces. I started chatting up other developers who did well
at it, and eventually learned that there was a creature called a designer,
and that maybe that's what I was in the process of becoming.

Now rather more circumspect with modal popups,

Michael Micheletti

On Dec 18, 2007 12:35 PM, pauric <pauric at pauric.net> wrote:

> I think many of us took the long winding path actually. I was
> wondering if we could hear some stories about those pivotal moments in
> our careers where we changed from being 'X' in to Interaction
> Designers....
>

19 Dec 2007 - 9:50am
Benjamin Ho
2007

Awesome thread!

How I came to be here seems like a long and winding road. But when I
look at it in hindsight, it's actually more straight than I thought.

I came from an art background at a very young age. Others considered
me "gifted" I just thought kids were suppose to have such artistic
abilities. I then developed my interest in design cars, to designing
the interiors. It then evolved to designing everyday objects in the
Industrial Design program in Carleton University.

After failing the last year, I actually got bored of design until I
was introduced to an awesome last year/major project working with
engineers. It was a project for developing a ground control system
for a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle). This project got me hooked as
it was extremely challenging AND worthwhile. My UI design skills
were a good foundation to build upon in later years (now). I always
had a curiosity towards doing the unconventional and pushing the
limits.

I guess what I'm trying to say then, is I was always a Designer.
And I continue to evolve.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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19 Dec 2007 - 7:54am
Eric Gauvin
2007

For the designer part, it goes way back to a childhood interest in
drawing. Later came an interest in the graphic design field via a
fascination with the non-photo blue pencil, which I thought was
really neat and opened up all kinds of magical possibilities of
precision. Then came Quark (even better than a non-photo blue pencil)
and I worked as a production artist at advertising agencies and
wondered why art directors couldn't really use quark for what it was
intended for. Next, came the web and, and there was even more of a
need for people who could understand both the technical and the
artistic sides. For me, the UI is the perfect overlap of these two
worlds.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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19 Dec 2007 - 2:42pm
Ari
2006

i have absolutely no background in design but i am extremely proficient at
creating old-school pixel-based artwork and animation - a skill i developed
back in the late 80s and early 90s during stints doing artwork for shareware
and low-end retail game development as well as for my own custom interfaces
for various programs I developed for Atari GEM (an early, single-task window
manager similar to the original Mac OS).

that experience has proved extremely valuable as i had to work under
significant design constraints from minimalist color palettes to limited
screen resolution and I still rely upon the knowledge i accumulated when
dealing with various restrictions imposed by today's platforms.

one can look back at the wealth of 80s and 90s GUI-based apps for both good
(and bad) ideas of how to deal with interface problems.

On Wed, 19 Dec 2007 04:54:33, Eric Gauvin <eric at ericgauvin.com> wrote:
>
> For the designer part, it goes way back to a childhood interest in
> drawing. Later came an interest in the graphic design field via a
> fascination with the non-photo blue pencil, which I thought was
> really neat and opened up all kinds of magical possibilities of
> precision. Then came Quark (even better than a non-photo blue pencil)
> and I worked as a production artist at advertising agencies and
> wondered why art directors couldn't really use quark for what it was
> intended for. Next, came the web and, and there was even more of a
> need for people who could understand both the technical and the
> artistic sides. For me, the UI is the perfect overlap of these two
> worlds.
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=23679
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

--
--------------------------------------------------
www.flyingyogi.com
--------------------------------------------------

19 Dec 2007 - 3:25pm
Dave Malouf
2005

HTML Programmer > UI "Designer" (UI Engineer who did his own
visuals; and badly) > Producer > Technologist > Information Architect
> UI "Designer" (AGAIN) > Interaction Designer

The journey took about 9 years and it wasn't until I joined this
community that I really understood what design even was.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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20 Dec 2007 - 2:54am
Steven Pautz
2006

Over the past 10 years, my interests and self-education have been:
Programming > Web Programming > Web Design > Usability (2000) > Human
Factors/HCI > UI design (2002) > narrowly-defined IxD > IA > broadly-defined
IxD/IA/UX (2004/05)

Over the same time frame, however, my work (mostly at short-lived,
student-oriented jobs) was:
IT support > Web Programming > IT+hardware support (2000) > UI+Web Design >
Database Programming > IA+IxD (although I didn't call it that at the time,
2002) > hardware assembly/troubleshooting > Web Design > framework-level
application programming > OpenGL programming (3d computer graphics) >
Information Visualization > Web Design+Programming (2004) > IA > InfoVis >
IxD > Virtual Reality + OpenGL programming > lab-based HF/Psych research >
"expert on a mountain"-styled heuristic evaluations (not my idea) > trying
to get a 'real' IxD job

I spend a lot of time trying to explain that I'm not just a techie,
seemingly in the same way many IxDs have to explain that they're not just
visual artists. :-/

----------------------------
Steven Pautz
spautz at gmail.com
http://stevenpautz.com/

20 Dec 2007 - 3:49am
Jens Meiert
2004

> HTML Programmer > UI "Designer" (UI Engineer who did his own
> visuals; and badly) > Producer > Technologist > Information Architect
> > UI "Designer" (AGAIN) > Interaction Designer
>
> The journey took about 9 years and it wasn't until I joined this
> community that I really understood what design even was.

It took several years (and job titles) for me as well (though I'm not necessarily a “real” interaction designer), getting the “final” understanding by studies concerning industrial design (where Ralph Caplan helped a lot) as well as art (Da Vinci, ironically), among others.

Anyway, I tend to claim that mere decoration (that still appears to be confused with design too often) will become almost equally important as a crucial aspect of how to create pleasant experiences.

--
Jens Meiert
http://meiert.com/en/

20 Dec 2007 - 4:04am
stauciuc
2006

I started messing around with Photoshop in high-school, and it then
continued through faculty with several graphic design projects. The faculty
was Computer Science (translated 'programming and others'). I did ok, but
wasn't really excited about what I was learning.

My interest in 'designing for the user' was caught by a very user-centered
web design book (don't remember the name, sorry). Then came the HCI course,
and it was by far my favorite course in faculty. Then came "About Face 2.0"
and I had my mind made up :).

My first job after graduation was as a general purpose Designer in a web
start-up. I loved the job, but the start-up didn't make it :)
The 2 internships that followed were more a result of my programming skills
(which came in very handy, I must admit) than my design ones, though I've
tried to also use my design knowledge as much as possible.

Now I'm decided to make the move. I have no formal education in the UX area,
and no official work experience. I have 3 years of learning from and through
this list, a number of years of building my design skills, a number of
projects in my portfolio, and extremely good feedback and references from my
previous employers. And hoping to find that company that will give me the
chance to prove my design skills, besides my programming ones ;)

--
Sergiu Sebastian Tauciuc
http://www.sergiutauciuc.ro/en/

20 Dec 2007 - 9:40am
Stew Dean
2007

On 18/12/2007, Fred Beecher <fbeecher at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 12/18/07, pauric <pauric at pauric.net> wrote:
> >
> >
> > I think many of us took the long winding path actually. I was
> > wondering if we could hear some stories about those pivotal moments in
> > our careers where we changed from being 'X' in to Interaction
> > Designers....
>
>

> What was different about the K2000 was that the pitch fine tune parameter
> was in cents, an actual unit of pitch and something that many musicians and
> most sound designers would understand. It hit me that someone took the time
> to adapt the machine to the musician rather than being lazy and doing it the
> other way round.

Some folks may know this but the Kerzweil synths where the product of
Ray Kerzweil who is responsible for books such as 'The Singularity is
Near' that covers what could happen if a technical singularity
strikes us (which, depending on you you speak to is between 30years
and never).

Off topic but his work does add a different dimension to why I do user
experience (I don't call myself a designer or use the term design in
my title just to result issues with being linked to visual design).

My starting point was creating games on a ZX spectrum at a very young
age - the days games used to be printed in magazines and you'd type
them in. No really that's what we used to do.

Stewart Dean

20 Dec 2007 - 10:20am
niklasw
2005

-88 Thought I'd be an architectht and went for a High School major
in constructuion (to my knowledge at the time the best combo of art
and 'technology')
-91 Discovered Industrial Design (a 'better' combo of art and
'technology') and decided in euphoria to create a better basis for
that by changing to mechanics major (applied to Umeå Institute of
Design (UID) first time)
-92 Mandatory Military Service (Applied to UID second time)
-93 Applied to UID third time and got accepted to a 4yr ID education
-94 Most of ny ID projects comprised of some form of IxD even if I
didn't know about it by then
-95 UID decides to extend the 4 to a 5yr edu with a 2yr
Interaction Design specialization which I'm extremly happy to apply to
as one of only two in the class (Reunions are really well visited)
-98 Graduate with a Master in IxD
-98 Head hunted into the web industry

Thats it, the rest you can read about in other places :)

--Niklas

On Dec 18, 2007 9:35 PM, pauric <pauric at pauric.net> wrote:
> Brian Hoffman wrote in another thread: "While many of you have
> followed a very straight career path into interaction design, I'm
> probably not alone here in having come into this field along a more
> winding path."
>
> I think many of us took the long winding path actually. I was
> wondering if we could hear some stories about those pivotal moments in
> our careers where we changed from being 'X' in to Interaction
> Designers....
>
> I fell off the engineering centric wagon in 1996 when I was writing
> code for a chip that made the LEDs flash on the front of a 10/100
> ethernet hub, i.e. the 'interface'. I had to solve a number of
> technical issues translating the large array of information inside the
> chip in to the limited abilities of the LEDs . In looking around for
> tools/thinking to correctly solve these problems I chose some UCD
> principles. A couple of months later I used the similar principles to
> discovered a major usability bug and had a product placed on ship
> hold. From there on out I was responsible for advocating the user.
>
> regards -pauric
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

--
--Niklas

Niklas Wolkert
IxDA Director
http://ixda.org

Sr. Interaction Designer
Ergonomidesign
http://ergonomidesign.com
+46 (0)733 611 227

20 Dec 2007 - 10:46am
Scott McDaniel
2007

On Wed, 19 Dec 2007 12:25:03, David Malouf <dave at ixda.org> wrote:
> HTML Programmer > UI "Designer" (UI Engineer who did his own
> visuals; and badly) > Producer > Technologist > Information Architect
> > UI "Designer" (AGAIN) > Interaction Designer
>
> The journey took about 9 years and it wasn't until I joined this
> community that I really understood what design even was.

This is almost identical to my journey-
One of a million different late 90s "Web Designers" (read: I learned
HTML!), and this progressed and meandered, as in different roles I'd
take on graphic design, IA, BA, etc.
By the time I realized I was even on a career path, I'd become a sort
of Default UI Guy - if you needed HTML, XML/XSLT, CSS, PHP, ASP,
Javascript, a layout or a new button with a 2 pixel bevel, the Java
guys are too busy, so call on me!

I finally saw the light when working for a start-up producing a CRM
application and the fellow mentoring me in product development
introduced me to Edward Tufte's works. 7 months later, the business
shut down. While I scraped for a couple years by doing unmotivated
freelance work, codemonkeying just didn't satisfy anymore. I'd be
frustrated with the small businesses and non-profits who just wanted a
template with their logo dropped in - it wasn't a matter of money, but
learning (and continuing to learn) that there's so much more - not
just lines of characters and inoffensive colors, but something that
appealed to my deeper appreciation of both arts and sciences.

This all led to my current position, which (much like the whole career
path) started with some HTML side work, but has since blossomed into a
larger world of user experience. I have the opportunity to be both a
student and the go-to guy for UI concepts and issues in my company.

Since joining this community (and connecting with SIGCHI-Atlanta and
UPA), I've gained quite a bit of perspective - especially with the
idea that many people get to focus almost exclusively on discrete
aspects of user experience, but also that there are plenty of people
like me who get to play Swiss Army Designer - for better and worse.

I look forward to meeting some of you in Savannah!

Cheers,
Scott
--
To be the eyes,
and ears,
and conscience
of the creator of the universe;
you fool. -Kurt Vonnegut

20 Dec 2007 - 4:10pm
Lukeisha Carr
2007

I have been looking into the IxD realm for about 3 years now. I chose
to major in Psychology due to a natural curiosity of why people do
what they do in general. And computers/technology has always kept my
attention. One day I searched on the web to find out how I could apply
my Psyc degree to my current career, and HCI popped up (I had never
heard of it before). But I hadn't made a firm decision until about
2 months ago to try to enter the IxD field. The deciding factor was,
as a web developer working for a firm with no interaction designers,
but talented backend developers & visual designers, there's never
any time for creating proper functional flows or conducting
"usability" testing early in the project. I always found myself,
during regular testing for code bugs, wishing we had more time to do
things like add a logout button to a web app that users must login
to. Things like that drove me crazy. Not to mention, some times we
had frustrated users, even though the capabilities of the apps were
awesome. Also, after seeing some awesome usability & interface
design of products such as mobile phones & operating systems, I'd
like to be able to eventually branch out into doing IxD for non-web
applications, such as for mobile devices.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=23679

20 Dec 2007 - 4:27pm
Jeff Seager
2007

I've been a little reluctant to detail my experience because I feel I'm a bit of a thorn among the roses, but it certainly fits the "winding path" analogy! Here ya go:

I studied journalism with a minor in anthropology at Marshall University. My favorite studies were a history of modern China (alluded to in an earlier post) and a series of interdisciplinary honors classes. I wanted to write
and photograph for National Geographic, but at some point I traded
that dream for others; I may come back to it later. My specialized studies in anthropology involved Hopi and Navajo mythology, but I've also been much interested in the Choctaw and Kwakiutl. All these are tribal people in what is now called the United States.

My work experience has been in writing and
reporting, photography, newspaper editing, newspaper and magazine
layout and design (initially with offset printing that
was actually pasted up and photographed, later with Quark XPress and Adobe Pagemaker), web design including some work with javascript
and ColdFusion, and (long ago) television production with particular emphasis on
videography, videotape editing and lighting design. My photography initially was on film, and I learned archival black & white processing while working briefly for a museum, so I did all my own processing of various film formats for many years. I shoot mostly digital now and use Photoshop and The GiMP, among other tools. I run Ubuntu Linux on two desktops at home, and I've been using more open source software including Scribus (DTP) and Bluefish (web coding). I use Dreamweaver 8 at work and hand-code CSS at work and at home, where I maintain a few simple sites for small businesses. I hope/expect to do more site design and site maintenance in the next few years using a content management solution, maybe Drupal.

In 2002 I came to work for a state agency for
vocational rehabilitation, and my emphasis has shifted somewhat from
writing/editing/photography to accessible web design (printing is far more expensive than pixels). All our clients have
a significant disability, and overcoming that disability is key to getting a job. This has opened my eyes and heart to the desperate need for
simplicity, semantic structure and standards compliance to accompany the mushrooming functionality of the Web.

I've learned a lot from some of my colleagues who specialize in adaptive technologies. Some are engineers who develop innovative custom solutions (mainly hardware), and others teach clients to use JAWS or Window Eyes. We've recently started outsourcing occupational, physical and speech therapy services, but they were in-house for a long time so I've also learned from seasoned professionals in those disciplines. We've had numerous clients here with traumatic brain injury, so I've had opportunities to observe different kinds of cognitive disability. Of all the things I've learned, the key one is "don't make something complicated when it ain't."

I'm part of a group of state-employed web developers who sponsored a design contest for our peers last year. I wrote up pretty thorough accessibility assessments for each of the nine finalists, and on the basis of that alone I've been asked to talk about web accessibility to some people who develop distance learning strategies for the state of West Virginia, where I live. It may be the last time I'm asked to speak, but I'm just as eager to listen to their needs and intentions.

My time has been spent primarily here and in Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina and Guam,
where I lived from age 14 to 24. I speak and understand a fair amount of Spanish, Chamorro (the language of Guam and the Marianas Islands), and a bit less Japanese. For a few years in Guam, I directed weekly TV news programs
in Mandarin, Korean, Chamorro, Japanese and
Tagalog. Also in Guam, I photographed and videotaped part of the war refugee exodus from Vietnam in 1975-76. I've studied the philosophies of India, China and Japan
with particular emphasis on Zen Buddhism and the writings of LaoTzu.
I have a mantra given to me personally by a real live guru, and I'm not afraid to use it. I've practiced taijiquan for about 15 years. I am not and never have been a hippie. I surfed some pretty big waves and raced sailboats (and won!) in my teens and twenties. My three teen-aged children live with their mom some 250 miles away, and I miss them; I pay child support faithfully and see them as often as possible. I'm 51 years old. I believe in God, but I may not perceive God as you do, and that's OK with me. And though this paragraph may suggest that I'm some kind of nut, I do not have ADHD and I'm very laid-back most of the time. I do occasionally react when I should instead act, and that's an unresolved bug in my own interaction design; yes, it's been reported.

I also sing and play acoustic fingerstyle guitar, write my own songs
and
adapt or rearrange songs written by others. I've done this since the early 1970s. I record music on
computer and mix it using Audacity, with the idea that I may eventually
produce a CD for friends and family. I do this mostly for
my own amusement, but I think that an understanding and love of music
has informed most of my life and work.

All the above details have some impact on my work because I'm passionate about living and I don't live in a vacuum. I've been fortunate to always do work that I care about, and I think my efforts generally are in the right direction or I'd be doing something else.

I believe our ability to share information
is essential to maintaining and improving human civilization. In these changing
times, I'd like to be one of the people helping to push the medium out
of the way so the messages can come through undistorted. This sometimes puts me at odds with people who design with needless complexity, but I'm essentially a decent guy who respects your right to veer off that path because I've done it myself.

Didn't mean to write a manifesto, but felt some of this may be useful for context. If not, mea culpa.

Jeff Seager

_________________________________________________________________
The best games are on Xbox 360. Click here for a special offer on an Xbox 360 Console.
http://www.xbox.com/en-US/hardware/wheretobuy/

21 Dec 2007 - 9:32am
Todd Roberts
2005

My path is somewhat similar to Nick Q from earlier in the thread.

Start out as pre-med Biology major
Take a psych class and think it's super interesting
Switch to psych major w/ a slight focus on cognition and aging, intending to
end up as a geriatric psychiatrist
Work in a judgment and decision making research lab (Paradox of Choice is
old news)
Work in a medical/healthcare decision making lab, where I taught myself PHP
and built a (pretty decent for a noob) website for the program in addition
to the research work
Apply to med school
Get into med school
Realize I am more interested in creating tools to allow people to make
better decisions than practice medicine
Withdraw med school acceptance on last possible day... now what
Enter a master's HCI program
Decide that the focus on usability evaluation is less interesting to me than
design (no offense intended Jared)
Take the few design-y classes offered and read designer's blogs and books
voraciously
Graduate
Work for mental health agency designing their electronic medical record and
a personal health record targeted at people with severe mental illness

21 Dec 2007 - 9:03am
Vlad Fratila
2007

Hi!
In my first post here... sorry if it's inappropriate...I just wanted
to say that your manifesto is useful for one context, that is, the one
that life in general creates. It was very inspiring, and I thank you.
I'm thinking about Hesse, maybe because I'm reading him, or maybe not
just that.

Vlad F

On Dec 20, 2007 11:27 PM, Jeff Seager <abrojos at hotmail.com> wrote:
>
>
> I've been a little reluctant to detail my experience because I feel I'm a bit of a thorn among the roses, but it certainly fits the "winding path" analogy! Here ya go:
>
> [...]

> Didn't mean to write a manifesto, but felt some of this may be useful for context. If not, mea culpa.

> Jeff Seager

21 Dec 2007 - 6:08pm
Josh Evnin
2005

Might as well pitch in my 2c of history:

I think it all began back in the mid-80s when I overheard my parents arguing
about whether they should get a computer. I distinctly remember my dad
saying:

"A computer!? The only computer I'll ever need is [pointing to his head] *right
here.*"

I sat in the back of the car and thought to myself, "*Really???*"

Flash forward years later as I'm applying to colleges, thumbing through
application packets with lists of majors: "Hmm...is there anything in here
where I can study how to *create tools that help people work better*?
Ahh...Computer Engineering sounds about right."

Two quarters of Computer Engineering classes later, I realized that I
*was*getting the "create tools" part, but not so much the "help people
work
better" part. So I switched my major to Cognitive Science, not only because
it seemed like a better fit, but also because those classes were just more
enjoyable. I specialized in HCI, but the general Psych, Neuroscience,
Anthropology, and CS classes have all helped me greatly on my path.

I continued on to work toward a Masters in HCI/Design, and it was only then
that I realized that I was meant to be a *Designer* more than anything else.
It was only when I began to study Design that all the other stuff I had
studied became concepts I could practically apply to real world problems.

That's my story.

Josh

On Dec 21, 2007 9:03 AM, Vlad Fratila <sparkle.vlad at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi!
> In my first post here... sorry if it's inappropriate...I just wanted
> to say that your manifesto is useful for one context, that is, the one
> that life in general creates. It was very inspiring, and I thank you.
> I'm thinking about Hesse, maybe because I'm reading him, or maybe not
> just that.
>
> Vlad F
>
> On Dec 20, 2007 11:27 PM, Jeff Seager <abrojos at hotmail.com> wrote:
> >
> >
> > I've been a little reluctant to detail my experience because I feel I'm
> a bit of a thorn among the roses, but it certainly fits the "winding path"
> analogy! Here ya go:
> >
> > [...]
>
> > Didn't mean to write a manifesto, but felt some of this may be useful
> for context. If not, mea culpa.
>
> > Jeff Seager
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

--
http://josh.ev9.org/weblog

23 Dec 2007 - 5:41pm
Elizabeth Bacon
2003

It%u2019s so inspiring to read about people's journeys into the arena
of design! Thanks to all who've shared. Here's my story...

I have always been a designer, but did not know it for many years.
I've always drawn, and imagined things that did not exist, and tried
to make the world a more user-friendly place. I love to put things
together, and was always the lone girl in the model airplane shop.
One of my fondest memories when I was living in Beijing, China from
1983-1985 (when I was 10 - 12 years old) was spending a weekend
creating a model of a washing machine that worked without
electricity...cutting up straws and taping cardboard and all that
good stuff!

My freshman year at Stanford, I tried to get into the over-crowded ME
101 course, but was bumped for being too young and writing down
"English" as my potential major. Ah, the road not taken! So I was a
Modern Thought & Literature major while studying in Paris, France
during my junior year. With a crazy guy I met there, I spent many
long nights inventing & building a novel triangular binder system
(and we design-patented it, too) as well as starting up a business
doing trompe l%u2019oeil paintings in people%u2019s homes. But
apparently my bourgeois self still didn't realize that I could make
a career out of making things....

Flash forward two years after graduating with a terribly useful
English & French Literature degree. With a go-nowhere day job, I was
charged up by doing interior design projects for friends. When I sat
down to make a list of possible career moves, I was mainly pondering
whether I should a) go to art school or b) pursue a philosophy PhD.
Then, the lightning bolt struck me: that DESIGN would unite the
creative & analytical parts of myself.

I could go on about my steps & career after that (attending San
Francisco State University for a master%u2019s degree, freelancing in
web, graphic & exhibit design, and then getting recruited by Cooper)
but this thread is about that revelatory moment. For me, it truly was
a thunderous experience to recognize that there was a professional
path that would let me imagine, create, and make things for a living.

All the different design fields that I have studied formally thus far
(interior, exhibit, web, graphic, industrial and interaction) share a
common process and approach. Practice in any makes you stronger in
all. I didn%u2019t even know about interaction design at the time of
my epiphany in 1997, but for me, this amazing field we are
championing has the perfect combination of human psychology, concrete
analysis, artistic creativity and intellectual rigor, with a nice dash
of theory & philosophy thrown in for good measure. Woo!!

Cheers,
Liz

P.S. Merry Christmas to those that celebrate such a holiday (I'm
utterly secular about it myself), and Happy New Year to all!

P.P.S. Don%u2019t forget to send in your application for a position
on the IxDA Board of Directors before Dec 28! :)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=23679

23 Dec 2007 - 5:57pm
Elizabeth Bacon
2003

P.P.P.S. Oh, yeah, and computers have always been a part of my life.
My dad was a Systems Analyst and just naturally adopted them at home.
We had an Atari and TI-99 when I was a kid, and Osborne, the first
"portable computer" (it went with us to China, and later went with
me to Stanford where it promptly gave up the ghost). I typed in a few
of those games from magazines myself. ;) But I never have really
wanted to code the things, until this year when I've decided to
learn some Ruby. It's another language, right?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=23679

24 Dec 2007 - 11:50am
Matt Nish-Lapidus
2007

This is a great thread! One for the archives for sure.

My path to IxD started when I was a kid and we got our first C64 I
suppose. I immediately took to programming, and when we got an Appl
IIe with Logo on it graphics became my main interest.

>From there I got more and more into computers and technology until
eventually I found myself trying to choose a university. I had
originally planned to go to CompSci at Waterloo... but then I started
taking art classes and realized there was a place for somebody who
loved both art and technology. I ended up going to Ryerson University
for their fantastic New Media BFA program. It was there that I
started to learn about interactivity as a discipline and practice. I
spent four years conceptualizing and building interactive art.

At school I met a lot of really interesting people, got involved in
some great organization (www.interaccess.org) and learned a lot about
interaction, art, and graphic design.

When I started working it was really hard to find a design job that
wasn't just graphic design, so I ended up on the technical side for a
while doing interface development at interactive agencies. Yet
somehow I was always the one fighting with the designers and managers
on the user's behalf, which eventually led me to where I am today.

I've been working for six years with various titles but always in the
area of UI design and development. Now I'm the Interface Lead for a
startup called BiblioCommons, designing a new app for public
libraries, and I love it.

Thanks for this thread pauric! It's been really interesting to read
everybody's stories and see how diverse a group we really are.

On Dec 18, 2007 3:35 PM, pauric <pauric at pauric.net> wrote:
> Brian Hoffman wrote in another thread: "While many of you have
> followed a very straight career path into interaction design, I'm
> probably not alone here in having come into this field along a more
> winding path."
>
> I think many of us took the long winding path actually. I was
> wondering if we could hear some stories about those pivotal moments in
> our careers where we changed from being 'X' in to Interaction
> Designers....
>
> I fell off the engineering centric wagon in 1996 when I was writing
> code for a chip that made the LEDs flash on the front of a 10/100
> ethernet hub, i.e. the 'interface'. I had to solve a number of
> technical issues translating the large array of information inside the
> chip in to the limited abilities of the LEDs . In looking around for
> tools/thinking to correctly solve these problems I chose some UCD
> principles. A couple of months later I used the similar principles to
> discovered a major usability bug and had a product placed on ship
> hold. From there on out I was responsible for advocating the user.
>
> regards -pauric
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

--
Matt Nish-Lapidus
work: matt at bibliocommons.com / www.bibliocommons.com
--
personal: mattnl at gmail.com / www.nishlapidus.com

24 Dec 2007 - 4:02pm
Al Selvin
2006

My path:

film/video studies (undergraduate), low-level film/video production jobs ==>

master's program in communication arts specializing in telecom policy but
including more video and film stuff, as well as programming (Pascal),
general interest in shaping new communications technologies ==>
teaching studio television production ==>
parallel track (all along) music performance ==>
work as project manager for new telecom technologies for a university
extension service ==>
year of free-form bicycling in Asia resulting in 0 idea of how to make a
living ==>
sudden inspiration that I could do technical writing after several months of
top 40 bands, temporary warehouse jobs, etc. ==>
started doing UI design as outgrowth of technical writing work, realizing
that a better UI could save hundreds of pages of convoluted explanation in a
manual ==>
working in a telecom expert systems lab doing technical writing, UI design,
knowledge engineering, participatory design, ... ==>
developing/designing Compendium <http://www.compendiuminstitute.org>hypermedia
software tool and methods ==>
project managing web projects for telecom firm ==>
managing large web applications team including UI designers, IAs,
developers, testers, etc. ==>>

Although design has been and is part of my work since the 1980s, I've never
worked solely as a Designer per se, so not sure if this counts. Anyway,
another data point for the discussion.

Al

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