The art of eavesdropping

ZLSw0SXxThSrkXRIiCdT_DSC_0345I was having lunch at a restaurant, by myself because my lunch date stood me up. I am however ready to forgive him because of a fraction of a conversation that I happened to pick up as I was aimlessly sifting through my Twitter feed. What I heard was a woman responding to something by saying “I guess he will take his computer with him when he leaves, so you can’t use it.” And another woman replies “No, it’s a stationary.” I swear I don’t have a habit of eavesdropping on people while sitting in public spaces, but honestly, this fragment of a conversation makes me wish I did. I admit, this short fragment made me make up a story about one of the women’s current life story, the one with access to a stationary computer. She fairly recently got involved in a relationship with a man, he is now leaving for a trip. I say fairly recently because she has access to his apartment, and thus his stationary computer, but they are not living together. Or maybe the man is her brother. These speculations could go on forever, and I could probably write a whole story about it, but what really got my attention was that the other woman assumed that the man in question had a laptop computer. And here’s why I found that interesting: We make assumptions based on our own preferences and things that we see over and over again. So based on the woman’s assumption about a portable computer, I assume that she has one herself and in fact that if she would by a new computer today, it wouldn’t cross her mind to by a stationary one. Furthermore, most people she knows have laptops, or at least people she works with, considering that you might be more likely to be reminded of your coworkers’ computers than your friends’, based on computers as a work tool and when she travels, she likes to bring hers. I only got a short glimpse of the woman in question, and I do not consider myself to be any good in determining other people’s ages, but if I were to take a guess, she would be in her late thirties. So not particularly surprising that she finds laptops to be an adequate tool, given that laptops have been equal to stationary computers for years now, something you would know if you are using them in your work. Unless you are a gamer. Gamers want all the power they can get.

None of these deductions I’ve made are really surprising. So she knows about computers, at least that laptops are more than adequate working tools. So she takes for granted that people prefer to by laptops. I do these things too. But what really caught my attention was her attitude to mobility, that you take your technology with you wherever you go. I found that fascinating, and relevant when developing products to this target group! If something can’t be used when traveling, like an app dependent on a good internet connection, this target group will likely choose something else. So even though nothing new had really been revealed, I was reminded that a glimpse into other peoples lives can tell us so much about them, what their preferences might be and what comes natural to them. This job is about learning about people, and making sure that they will enjoy your product.

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