Empathy

Learning about this Design Thinking is an itch on my brain. I’ve been trying to wrap my head around this in school and I think I’m coming a bit closer to taking in how it works. Innately, I’m a more instinctive, abstract thinker and it has taken me a great deal of effort to edge closer to any sort of methodology in my professional and personal life!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In order to better understand the concept, I have tried to equate the process with one I am familiar with; songwriting.

  1. Empathize: A feeling/emotion – Someone is experiencing a difficult time.
  2. Define: Determine the mood, subject of the song
  3. Ideate: Start tossing around words, thoughts, develop a phrase or word that encapsulates the “problem.”
  4. Prototype: Once the song is finished perform it live for someone and gauge their reaction.
  5. Test: Once you get the feedback you need, tweak the song if it’s a keeper, then record it and release it to the world and see what happens. If it doesn’t elicit a reaction. Scrap it and start over trying to dig into what worked and what didn’t work.

Of course, these actions don’t happen in a perfectly linear fashion and, in truth, I’m going out on a limb here. I’m not 100% sure I’ve understood this concept of “Design Thinking” just yet!  I guess I’m trying to reverse-empathize and make this concept relatable to me!

Many times I write songs with a group of other writers which is probably more relevant. we toss ideas around, some stick, some don’t. We keep each other on track, always trying to come back to that initial “problem” or emotion/story we’re trying to resolve or express with the song. Sometimes we have to meet multiple times before the song is “finished.” Even in the recording studio, things can change dramatically. Recently I recorded a song, “Bittersweet” which I co-wrote with three other songwriters. When I got into the studio to sing it, the chorus sounded really high and more like a background part. A week later, I returned to the studio and came up with a new melody for the chorus that sounded more authentic.

Recently I recorded a song, “Bittersweet” which I co-wrote with three other songwriters. When I got into the studio to sing it, the chorus sounded really high and more like a background part. It didn’t really bother two of my co-writers, but two of us weren’t loving it. A week later, I returned to the studio and came up with a new melody for the chorus that sounded more authentic to my voice and the song.

Bittersweet isn’t written about anything or anyone in particular. We all sat together and tried to think of people we knew who were in relationships that were unhealthy or failing. How they often will justify the relationship by any means available or, perhaps, simply are simply choosing to systematically put themselves in complicated situations for emotional/psychological reasons. With did a lot of empathizing during the first session!

I don’t have the original version, but imagine a mouse with its tail caught in the door.

This version sounds much better.

 

 

Need Space from Cyberspace

I need space. Three words you never want to hear in a relationship.

That is how I am feeling with the internet, email and social media. Technology. Relationships of all sorts are about balance. Prioritizing. How do you maintain balance and keep technology from running amuck and taking over your life? No, really. That is a question.

I use technology daily for work. The expectation that I be super-glued to my phone, email, camera, social media and computer is implicit yet real. I couldn’t do my job without technology. In fact, I wouldn’t have a job in communications without it! At least eight hours of my day are spent on my three computers, one Apple and one PC and a MacBookPro and on my two cell phones, one Android and one iPhone. That’s a whole lot of screen-time.

As a musician, I use social media and technology to promote my songs and connect with my audience. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Spotify, YouTube… and more! On average, I would guess that I spend at least an hour a day just updating various social media.

Today I updated my YouTube channel/playlist and graphics. I still need to do more work on the individual tags for each video. It’s a lot of work.

It Often, like today, I use Photoshop to create new graphics, banners and icons to upload to the different websites and social media I use to get my music and message out there. As I think about it, I am genuinely surprised at how much time and effort it takes to stay current. Last week I devoted my attention to becoming a verified Spotify artist and updating my page graphics once the goal was achieved!

Every other month or so I create a new music video in iMovie. Even the simplest video takes me a whole evening to complete. As for social media, researching interesting post content – even though I program it a week ahead – takes nearly a full work-day!

Being an independent artist is a very time-consuming job.

Without realizing it an hour or two or five has gone by without speaking to a person or connecting with anything other than my keyboard and monitor. None of this activity includes writing songs, practicing music or performing and connecting with people.

Then there’s the “personal” social media. I don’t typically do a lot of posting, but should I really be doing ANY given the amount of time I already spend on a device, online?

During my “down” time  is when I really notice the malaise. I’m supposed to be a relating to my family and friends. I don’t bring my device to the dinner table (house rule), but I can’t say that I feel 100% present, regardless. Ever. I swear I can feel my iPhone vibrating, humming away on the credenza, calling to me to check email. Check Facebook. Post a photo on Instagram.

Rinse and repeat.

Let’s face it. Social media is designed to be habit-forming. Design-thinking perhaps well-intended and gone awry? I read that people suffering from depression check their email more often than most (gulp, I check mine a lot). So is this technology solving a problem or reinforcing one? So how do we break a bad habit? One day a time.

I am passionately grateful for the existence of social media and technology. Always and forever in awe of the design-thinkers who knew what we wanted (when we didn’t) and thought of how to solve our problems and create brilliant solutions.

It’s me. Not you. I need some space.