In this week’s Six Questions, we would like you to meet Labs’ Interaction Designer Extraordinaire, Camellia George.
Which Labs products do you work on?
I’m the lead Interaction Designer for WaPo Labs. I’m involved, on one level or another, with every consumer-facing product we make. In some cases, I’m actually creating the interface and interaction design. In others, I coordinate and manage our small (but growing!) team of interaction designers. I also work closely with Labs’ leadership to define the design strategy for new products and initiatives.
And, of course, I recruit designers for the team.
How would you describe WaPo Labs to someone unacquainted with the team?
When describing what I do, I usually tell people familiar with technology or R&D that WaPo Labs is a pretty classic “skunk works” team in the sense that we work on long-term strategic projects largely parallel to (rather than inside of) the news organization.
I’ve almost always worked in “labs” type groups and ours is a particularly product-focused team. We hold firm the idea that nothing can take the place of actually participating in the market, of putting our ideas in front of real news readers. This is different from the kind of work many classic “labs” groups perform – think Bell Labs of the 70s and 80s, or present-day Intel Labs. Groups like those are most focused on setting the stage for further product development.
When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A pediatrician. But I always chose to make the class flag, or build the diorama instead of writing an essay, etc. So, apparently everyone else knew I was going to be a designer.
Whom do you admire?
The people I most admire are those I’ve had lots of interaction with, and who’ve personally inspired my own work. Brenda Laurel is an amazing designer, researcher and was my mentor throughout all of graduate school, and Maria Bezaitis directed the lab I was a part of at Intel – she’s a brilliant thinker in the social technology space.
What superpower would you most like to have?
Time-stopping – like Evie. There are just never enough hours in the day to do everything I want to do.
You’re stranded on a desert island with one book, one album, and one object of your choosing. What items do you have?
1Q84 (because I’d finally have time to finish it), “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” and… I’d like to say a machete, but I sunburn so easily that I know I should say an enormous sunhat.