Paty joins Aragon One as our new UX Designer. Her past work on open source software and strong take on human-centric design will be making a positive impact on the whole user experience of Aragon.
Happy to have you with us Paty!
Could you start by telling us about yourself? What have you worked on in the past, what do you like to do outside of work?
My name is Paty, and I'm from a small coastal town in Galicia, in the north of Spain. Recently I moved to Madrid. But up until a couple of months ago, I was living in London, a city that I fell in love with when I moved there nine years ago.
I consider myself to be a curious and passionate person, with great attention to detail. I love technology and the web, constantly looking for new things to learn and different ways to improve my work, new tools, and new methodologies.
Among my previous professional experiences are leading product design and user research at Farfetch, a global fashion retail platform, and teaching design at General Assembly. Before that, I worked at Canonical as a lead user experience designer. There I helped build Ubuntu – making open source software available to people everywhere.
In my free time, I love traveling and exploring new corners of the world, all-crafty-things like pottery and swimming in the sea! I'm also into video games. Recently I started playing Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime. A beautifully designed co-op game where you battle in a colorful galaxy of evil robots and constellations to rescue love bunnies. I very much recommend giving it a try!
What led you to explore the world of blockchain technology?
During my time in London, I made many good friends from all around the world. I got to know different cultures, ways of thinking, social norms, etc. This experience made me understand life from a completely different perspective and expanded my horizons.
One example of this was that, at the time, I used to share a flat with a friend from India and another one from Mexico. They were always worried they wouldn't get their visa renewed and would have to go back to a country that they didn't want to live in. This made me realize how lucky I was. To be able to go and live anywhere I wanted thanks to my Spanish citizenship. Also made me realize just how ridiculous these made-up borders are.
When I first heard about Bitcoin around 2010, I thought it was a cool idea but didn't understand all its potential. Fast forward a few years and the technology was more ubiquitous than when I started following Ethereum around its first release, Frontier, in 2015. A colleague at Canonical wanted to work on a side project for the Ubuntu platform using this tech. I was super impressed and fascinated by the case studies and started going to Ethereum meet-ups, talking to people and reading all I could about it. Now the space is blooming, and the possibilities are unlimited.
Blockchain technology will break barriers and open new opportunities for people all around the world. However, I also think that it's not enough for this new technology to be open and transparent. It needs to be inclusive and promote user literacy from the start, by default, and by design. Because technology is becoming more and more complex. It will potentially touch and be entangled in every aspect of our lives. Thus it's no longer enough for people to understand "how it works". It's rather a necessity that they understand how it came to be, the context and the consequences of its use.
I envision a future where humans are free to live and work wherever they want. But it won't happen without resistance from the powers in place. This is one of the many examples where decentralized and censorship-resistant technologies have the potential to help people take control of their lives.
What was it about Aragon that drew you to the project?
The most interesting aspect of this technology is the potential it has for social impact. To help solve critical issues in our society like inequality, the gender gap, racism, censorship, power distribution, among many other aspects. But we need to work hard to make it accessible and inclusive for everyone. Currently, there's a huge entry barrier. And the value proposition isn't clear enough for people who aren't tech literate or privileged enough to have access to these technologies.
As I discovered the Aragon project, I found that I was completely aligned with its values and core vision. From the outside, I thought the team was doing significant work. They had their hearts in the right place, having super high-quality standards and the goal to make a difference in this space. That's what got me interested in the project and wanting to help them bring users on-board.
So I joined the Aragon One team to help orchestrate the collaboration between design and technology. To steer the direction of the product to make sure we build it around the people who need it the most.
As a designer, what obstacles do you see that need to be tackled and how can better design make better experiences for users?
We know education and on-boarding are two of the biggest problems in the space. By focusing on learning what the real problems people have are, what they need and what they value, we will ensure that we get our priorities straight. Also, we must meet them where they are. Using plain language free of tech jargon, using the right metaphors, familiar situations and examples they can relate to and understand.
Like many other projects in the space, it's essential to our long-term sustainability that we increase awareness and gain mainstream adoption. It's vital that we continue iterating, refining our product and removing any friction points for the people using Aragon.
There must be integrity and compromise on our side. We have a duty of care, so we don't run into the same pitfalls others have in the past – knowledge, data, access and decision power concentrated in the hands of a few. This time should be about giving people a choice: digital services, but under their control. We must learn how to communicate better the way this technology can be used for good and positive impact on our day-to-day lives.
Right now the benefits are also somehow intangible, very difficult to grasp. I always tell this story – I couldn't get my dad to use a smartphone (he hated it because it was difficult to use) until I showed him that we could be in touch all the time (with video calls and pictures and for free!). Now he's the tech-savvy folk within his group of friends, managing his bank account form his phone, buying plane tickets and so on. And he learned all this on his own because he understood the value it has.
As designers who are involved in the tactical execution of day-to-day tasks, we can sometimes find it hard to take a step back and focus on the impact of design beyond design, how what we do contributes to the greater good of society. But that's where our focus should be – using creativity and design thinking methodologies to resolve not only technical challenges but human ones.
All in all, I believe Aragon is going to fundamentally revolutionize the relationships and dynamics between government, people and organizations as we know them today. I see it as a change catalyst for how people make collective decisions and cooperate for innovation. I'm super excited to be part of this movement and have the opportunity to contribute to make it a reality.
Thank you, Paty!
I look forward to seeing how we can make Aragon even better for the users with your help!
Be sure to follow Paty on Twitter!