[THOUGHT] The Human Experience – Scenes from the Metro

Every weekday morning, walking to catch the metro to office, inside the long Metro station corridor I pass by people hurrying on.

But certain scenes stand out.

A kindergarten toddler, hardly 5 years old, in her school uniform frock, wearing a backpack, holding onto her father’s hand toddling along trying to keep pace with his longer strides. I could hear her asking him in Hindi, “Daddy, when will we go to the beach again?”.

I don’t know about you but this broke my heart. The picture of that little girl running trying to keep pace with her dad who was obviously in a hurry to reach her to school and then get to work, and that little girl’s thoughts were elsewhere, she wanted to be free, at the beach. Maybe the beach would have made a better institution of learning than the walled ones we go to.
This gives me an idea, a moving school where classes happen in natural environments like parks, zoos, beaches, gardens. What schools were like in a previous age, before we lost ourselves wrapped in this complex sophistication of our modern age.

The other scene that plays out regularly. The same long metro station corridor. Same morning time going to work. People passing me by, I pass by people and these two pass by me. A man in his thirties, probably an elder brother, dragging along a boy with special needs, maybe in his teens, wearing a backpack, uncomfortably trying to keep pace, not looking too happy. Probably getting dropped at a daycare. The same rush. The world is turning non-stop and we have to keep running to stay in the same place.

This third scene, a more recent one. Same morning time. A middle-aged middle-eastern woman in a black abaya with her head covered, pushing with one hand a wheel-chair carrying a 12-year old differently-abled kid and with the other hand pulling a trolley-schoolbag. The kid is in uniform and asleep. The lady pulls along with a grim determination and will.

One day, when barely managing to get a place at the entrance in the crowded carriage, found myself face to face with a father standing with a pram (baby-stroller) in which a 8 month old baby was sitting and looking up in wonder at all the faces crowded around and looking down at it. My hand holding my mobile phone and bag was at its reach. It tried tugging at my mobile and the father tried to distract it with his mobile. Early morning at the metro, I have seen parents carrying babies and toddlers, some half asleep to affordable day cares in my area.

And today, a heart-warming one, in the long metro corridor leading to the ticket booth and turnstiles. A middle-aged couple, both obviously going to work, but walking at a more leisurely pace. The man, was carrying his kindergarten kid in school uniform on his shoulders – a joy ride for the kid.

Somewhere at the back of my mind, Paul Young’s version of “Love of the Common People” plays. The human experience, love it or hate it but you can’t escape it.

[THOUGHTS] ux to hx (human experience)

Starting out as a copywriter in the late 90s after learning the craft from seasoned writers, absorbing brand positioning concepts from Jack Trout and Al Ries, copy and idea crafting concepts from the writings of Ogilvy, Bernbach, Jim Aitchinson etc.  and other marketing frameworks from Philip Kotler, now in the second decade of the 21st century, you come face-to-face with IT and UX. 

Now your craft is a sub-set of a larger process – the user-experience process layered over the software development life cycle (SDLC). The process is more analytical than the spontaneous creativity of your previous avatar. How do you cross-over? Can your love for ideation and the writing craft fit into this very engineering-like process?

Somewhere you find it losing its humanness with all its talks of “users” and “personas” and “journeys” and “moods” – concepts which you had sub-consciously used for crafting communication pieces in the previous era. The whole ecosystem of this industry feeds on this jargon and runs like a machine. Copywriters or for that matter anybody with a bit of interest can learn the processes and techniques as it is not rocket science exactly.  Is it possible to achieve the same goal without depending on UX processes? Maybe not advisable. But UX teams can recognise the importance a copywriter can bring to the design process, instead of someone who just fills in the words.

Copywriters can be the top most layer after the UX Layer which in turn is layered over the SDLC. Each screen of the digital product being designed/developed can be given a metaphorical/allegorical makeover by ideators/copywriters (eg. The Digital Content Cafe). Telecom consumer service providers can package their plans, add-ons and value-added services using the metaphor of a McDonald combo meal – which majority of us easily grasp, even kids. But are we human enough to be child-like in our approach? Or enmeshed in our sophisticated complexities do we shrug off these creative approaches as primitive?

By the way, googling “hx human experience” throws up results fresh from 2017…so there seems to be a conscious movement towards hx happening.