As I design my project for my Digital Public History course, I am giving a lot of thought to my audiences. One way to explore audiences is to interview people from those audiences. Over the past week, I have created an interview script and asked questions to three people from my primary audience and one from my secondary audience. I am most grateful for their time and responses, and I am confident that my project will be much more user-friendly because of their input.
The women I have interviewed this week were born between 1951 and 1970. All are married with children., and each has graduated from college. Some have completed, or are currently embarking on, graduate work. At some point in their lives, all of them have lived in Massachusetts.
As I asked about their daily lives, I learned that all of these women are very busy. Most work at least part-time and are juggling work, family time, household activities, activities for their children’s schools, and time for their own interests. When I asked what they like most about their jobs, more than one answered the ability to help someone. Whether that job is working with people or creating products for them, these women are interested in making a difference. Some also volunteer their time with school and church events. They spend some of what free time they do have visiting museums and historic sites, reading, both alone and in book clubs, watching television, going to movies, using social media and the internet, playing games, and exercising,
Interest in Women’s History
While I knew that there was an interest in women’s history, I did not anticipate hearing how frequently the women discuss famous women. One interviewee told me that she and her daughter had just gone to Hidden Treasures, a movie about a woman involved with the space program. She also said that Eleanor Roosevelt had been very involved with the school that her daughter has just been accepted to, so they have been talking about her and her radio shows. Another noted that she wanted to be Mary Tyler Moore, and, when she reached her twenties, she was an independent career woman.
Technology, Online Habits, and Research Habits.
The women I interviewed varied in their comfort with technology. They all utilize social media and are online frequently. The women appear to know how to do research, but all need some pointers on historical research sites.
Knowledge of Digital Humanities and/or Digital History
While the interviewee from my secondary audience was quite familiar with Digital Humanities and Digital History, some are less familiar with tools and areas of study. This project will be an opportunity for them to learn.
Interest in learning about professional women from the past and in participating in the Project
All of the women were quite interested in learning about these fascinating women from the nineteenth century and were excited to participate in the Crowdsourcing Project.
Needs and Concerns Relating to Participating in the Project
I learned that the women have different learning styles and that they all need very clear steps for how to proceed in participating. One woman noted that her company had gotten new software, and her boss had told people to play around with it. She told me that she does not learn by playing around. She likes clear directions about what she should be doing. Two said that they will need very straightforward examples to follow. My secondary audience interviewee, a librarian, made many wise suggestions, including having manuals and being sure to print manuals and lists for people to have in hand while working on the project. I will be extra careful as I explain the process of participating in the project.
Time was another concern. Two of these women asked how much time they will be expected to give to the project. I responded that each participant may give as little or as much time as he or she wants to. Some may choose to add an item for one woman, while others may enjoy the process and decide to add several.
Conducting these interviews has taught me more about my users and participants. It was good to hear about their interests and their concerns. Now that I am aware of what they want to learn and what they need to know to participate, I am excited to get back to my project design.