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By Andrew Pollack on 12/08/2007 at 10:14 PM EST

WWRD? What Would Raj Do? Mary Beth Raven is talking about the latest "persona" they've created as part of their user-experience work. Raj is a Notes Developer. He's not real. He's what's called a "straw man" -- a stand in for the Domino Developers and Notes Developers out there. He's how the user-experience folks will be thinking about the day to day work process from the standpoint of someone doing that kind of work.

When I'm writing code, I frequently have a real person in mind for the user. I try to imagine them working with what I'm writing. This was particularly important for me with Second Signal. Mary Beth's team does this through a formalized process where specific individuals are defined and fully thought through.

I have a few thoughts about Raj, though.

1. Raj is clearly meant to be a representation of the power-developer for Lotus Notes. He's the classic 'tree hugger' in all of us. I don't see mention of the fact that Raj hates portal. Let me add that here. "Raj hates Portal. If he hears the word 'Portal' any further discussion or technical benefit being described is ignored. At Lotusphere, a mere mention of the word is likely to drive him from the conference room." There, that feels better. I'm sure Raj appreciates that.

2. Raj is sick of being stereotyped. He wants you to know he's not just another east asian I.T. guy. And frankly, he doesn't like Currie any more than you do.

3. Where has Raj been all this time? He must be a very quiet man. We're a terribly long way down the road of new products for this to be Raj's first appearance on scene.

If you have thoughts about Raj, let Mary Beth know. She's possibly the most powerful advocate for your day to day work experience with the Lotus Notes products.

May Beth's blog is here -- at least usually. Right now it seems IBM's got the entire Developer Works site off line for maintenance again.

By the way, the title of this blog entry would have been much more fun if "Raj" had been called "Jason".

There are  - loading -  comments....

re: WWRD?By Dwight Wilbanks on 12/09/2007 at 02:51 AM EST
I'll tell you one thing for sure, RAJ wants a class editor for lotusscript.
He's been talking about it since R5 days. He wants the new stuff that came up
on ideajam too, but, he's wanted the class editor for a long time.

Raj is also keeping his eye on sharepoint, he perks up an ear when he overhears
non-IBM offerings being discussed. Raj has not abandoned ship yet, but, he
knows where the lifeboats are.

WWIBMD ? Pour more resources into not-notes! Pat themselves on the back, and
congradulate themselves for freeing Raj from his old way of thinking and his
old love for the old notes, so that he can be free to move on with the times
and choose a new technology.
re: WWRD?By Paul Gagnon on 12/09/2007 at 08:57 PM EST
yeah, Raj isn't the only one that gets turned off at the incessant mention of
portal at every turn. ;)
LOLBy Andrew Pollack on 12/09/2007 at 11:23 PM EST
Thanks for the laugh. Point taken.
re: LOLBy Paul Gagnon on 12/10/2007 at 01:30 PM EST
and you can bet that there will be at least 15 minutes dedicated to it at the
Sphere's OGS, front and center. We'll try not to yawn too much!
re: WWRD?By Chris Kergaravat on 12/10/2007 at 10:47 AM EST
Actually, Andrew, if readers want to make public comments, they should go to
MaryBeth's blog, but private comments can be sent directly to me. If you write
to me, please let me know whether you'll give me permission to contact you when
I'm doing a survey or looking for people to interview.

Find my address at:

Chris K/IBM - User Studies/Domino Designer
re: WWRD?By John Vaughan on 12/10/2007 at 06:14 PM EST

that is awesome. WWRD. omg too funny. i wonder how the waffle guys feel about
that? ;-)
re: WWRD?By Nathan T. Freeman on 12/12/2007 at 10:15 PM EST
Andrew, are you trying to suggest that Raj is " a person set up to serve as a
cover for a usually questionable transaction?"

If so, why don't you just say that? If not, how about a bit more careful a
choice of words?
You'd argue with ME over Word usage?By Andrew Pollack on 12/12/2007 at 11:22 PM EST
Ha! I laugh at you.

I refer to the first, primary description of the word (and did so without
needing a dictionary). Essentially, a simplified placeholder for discussion.
I say weak, imaginary, and easily defeated because that's the function. "Raj"
doesn't really exist -- so he becomes the way for factions in the design
discussion to beat each other up.

Main Entry:
straw man

1 : a weak or imaginary opposition (as an argument or adversary) set up only to
be easily confuted

2 : a person set up to serve as a cover for a usually questionable transaction
re: You'd argue with ME over Word usage?By Nathan T. Freeman on 12/13/2007 at 06:03 AM EST
I'm not arguing with your usage. I'm asking for clarification. I never had
any question whether you knew the definition of "strawman."

If Raj is a personae who's intended use is only to build weak arguments against
others' proposals, then the approach lacks merit. So I'm trying to clarify to
see whether you think the defining of a Raj personae lacks merit. This would
be surprising given the number of Domino developers who have already
self-identified with the character.

Do you think Samantha was a strawman (woman?) during the 8.0 design cycle?
I think the process has merit, but is limitedBy Andrew Pollack on 12/13/2007 at 06:59 AM EST
The process has merit of course, but it is limited in that Raj et. al. are not
real people. They're ideas to build for, but they're no strong advocates for
particular design plans than the people using their definitions as rallying
cries. Nobody can really ASK Raj what he'd do. There are many real Raj's out
there, and they are the ones who need to be asked more frequently.

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