What is Sara's Degree, Anyway?
It occurred to me that maybe 2% of my readers know what my master's degree even is. Here's the full title: Master of Science in Information Studies. Pretty ambiguous, huh? It basically means that I (presumably) know how to organize and present information so that it's easy to access, easy to understand, and easy to manage.
Information scientists, as people with M.S.I.S. degrees are sometimes referred to, work in a wide range of professions. They are librarians, archivists, preservationists, programmers, developers, and database managers. My particular areas of interest are human-computer interaction, information architecture, usability, and user experience research. (So if you see any job descriptions that include these phrases, please let me know!!!)* Those areas of information studies are about users . . . They're about you, the general public. How do you experience the websites and products you use? Here are some questions, for example, that information architects and user experience researchers have rolling around in their minds on a constant basis:
- Why do people use [this website or product]?
- How do they use it?
- Do they like using it?
- Is there anything that frustrates them about this experience?
- What are the problems they encounter when they use [this website or product]?
I think about this stuff a lot. I even think about it when I make instant oatmeal. When I worked full-time, I would often grab a packet of instant oatmeal in the morning because it was the quickest, easiest thing to make for lunch. But who has a 1/3-cup measuring cup on hand when they're at work? Sure, you can eyeball the amount of water you need, but it's really the pits when you add too much -- or worse, not enough. Well, Quaker changed all of that. Did you know they figured out a way to turn the packet into a measuring cup? They did! And now it's one of my favorite products. It's so user-friendly!
Anyway, that's the kind of thing I do -- make the experience of using things better for people. Typically, I do that with websites, but I wouldn't mind working for OXO.** Or some other product development company. But then I probably should get an industrial engineering degree . . .
*Here's my website, which includes a resume and portfolio of work: sawasnow.com. (It's a work in progress.)
**Take a look at this incredibly user-friendly product: angled measuring cup. I was so happy the first time I saw one of these; I think I almost cried.
Thing I'm thankful for: Ricola honey lemon cough drops!