Posted on 2020-07-16
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Almost a decade ago, I tried to move away from the tech world, sadly without much success. Since then, much has happened, yet much remained the same.
Unable to find work as a user experience designer, I took a remote web development contract, which allowed me to travel and work remotely for a few years. Before long, I ended up leading a small team of front-end developers responsible for the refactoring of a payment flow for an American telecom company. It’s then that I properly discovered and implemented accessibility in a project. To this day, I remain an accessibility advocate when designing any project.
When that contract ended, I did not want to do more development. On a dare from my mother, I went back to university to complete my Bachelor’s of Fine Arts, some ten years after I dropped out.
And it was a good idea: these two years were the best I had in a long time: I wrote and performed a multi-channel guitar piece, I worked with artists and researchers of the Topological Media Lab, I got back into electronics, and I built a kinetic sculpture which I was able to showcase in an art exhibition. After all this, I managed to graduate with honors. I wrote then about coming back to the academic world with much more life experience.
#CSIM master students from @DTIC_UPF visit the @SPECS_lab to learn about brain research, cognition, robotics, Ai and interaction technology applied to health and education. @IBECBarcelona pic.twitter.com/Xb0CUqmwkR
— SPECS (@SPECS_lab) October 18, 2018
Motivated by my accomplishments, I enrolled in a Masters in Barcelona. I dropped everything, convinced this would be my ticket to move back to Europe, a decade later. Unfortunately, due to administrative and financial troubles, I had to drop out and rush back to Canada. My savings were gone: I slept on a futon at my dad’s, then at a friend’s place for a while before I could find work again.
I have not been too public about this, because no matter how many people praise failure, it still hurts when you go through it.
And so I went back to work as a web developer for CloudRaker in Montréal, where I tried to be an advocate for accessibility and good practices.
And so the cycle was complete, all that effort to move away from marketing and web development to come back right into it.
Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!
— Lewis Carrol, Alice Through the Looking Glass
Much of the tech work of a marketing agency is to maintain old products, and produce other people’s visions as fast as possible. Anybody who’s ever worked with me—or who reads my tweets— knows I do not believe in marketing much. Many of my readings of last year follow this thread. I even wrote an overly passionate manifesto on that subject a while back.
Yes, I design interactions, and I like to discover new ways to use technology, but I always ensure to keep users’ goals as the reason for the interaction.
Back to School (Yet Again)
On multiple occasions, I tried to join user experience design teams in different domains, from installations to software development to game development. Even if I have much empirical designing and developing user experiences, my tech background and lack of official training in UX played against me. A few recruiters even openly mentioned it.
My granddad used to say that when looking for work, what matters is not if you have done that work previously, but if you are able to do it now.
Nevertheless, I must ensure that my own deck of cards is not stacked against me. And so as a first few steps to try again to move towards that domain, I registered to an online UX class with the MIT and also to a UX program at HEC Montréal.
A developer friend from Barcelona and his philosopher friend in NYC created Databyss, “a powerful open-source tool to help you organize your research notes,” which is meant for researchers and students.
I will be joining them sometimes to work on their project. Having a chance to work close to academia again is motivating.
Arts et Médias
Even if I currently am unable to make a living out of my artworks or my writings about art, contemporary art and media art are very much my passion.
I remember it being hard to find scholarly texts, art books, and other similar resources about media art by myself. So I decided to create Arts et Médias, a sort of curated wiki which is meant as a hub for media art resources and content.
This project is very much in its infancy, but I have big plans for this platform!
Workshop, Studio Space, etc.
While I know the current situation with the coronavirus and everything is not ideal, I am looking for a workshop/studio space from where I could work on installations, electronics, and sound again.
If you hear anything of interest, do ping me.
Back to Freelancing
Even with all that is going on, I am going back to the world or freelancing again.
This may seem conceited, especially in the current situation where some close to me are struggling to find work, but I have never been one to put myself on a shelf while hoping for something to drop on my lap. I recognize that it may be a form of privilege, but I’d still rather cause things to happen, even if it means potentially experiencing new setbacks.
So do contact me if you, or if you know people that:
- want to collaborate on creating installations or interactive artworks;
- want to design user experiences of all sorts (as long as they take privacy and accessibility into account);
- want to develop web interfaces with proper web semantics and accessibility.