Guest Post: Paloma Vazquez // @pmvazquez
What inspires me lately? While I could easily list off a handful of things conversationally (and the list could change daily), the truth is that exposing that in writing requires a degree of vulnerability. After all, what inspires you can say as much about you as your (hopefully) inspired work can. Some days I'm inspired by those class acts you meet along the way - those individuals that handle difficulties with grace, change their circumstances, and always respond to life with positivity and altruism. Other days it's the friend with a 'f*** you' attitude and devil-may-care swagger that lives and works by his/her instinct, lands on all fours and evolves with what appear to be nine lives. And then there's those things that inspire my lust for escapism (wanderlust fairy, thy name is Paloma): a beautifully composed photo in a magazine spread or journal that elevates your thoughts into daydream/fantasy territory, or a photogenic, seaside abode on AirBnB (I'm convinced travel porn and real estate voyeurism are two human insights fueling the app's visitation).
Fortunately for me (and for your readers), what's inspiring me the most today is a tad more cerebral. 'What Designers Can Learn from a Pioneering Anthropologist', published in The Atlantic, revisits the notion of a 'thick description' as a disciplined technique used by cultural anthropologists to reflect on what they've learned from their field ethnographies - and to force themselves to digest it, in writing, for discussion with their colleagues and clients. According to John Freach, the piece's author:
The other key to creating a thick description is being able to go through the reflective act of writing and transcribing our notes. In the field, we think about and discuss the day's or night's events with our colleagues (or ourselves), and try to put them down on paper in an order that enables interpretation—the sense-making part of the process. When we have a better, or newer, or different understanding of the thing we set out to study then we can alter it through design.
In practice, it (thick description) enables us to question, interpret, and reinterpret the most basic events and conditions we see as well as those more uncommon ones. Along the way...we can unpack new ideas, improve ways of life, and shift the reality of just about anything.