Personal informatics instances

Walk with me Playing with personal informatics' devices lately. Such as Walk with me or On Life.

On Life

Walk with me enables you to track and monitor your daily walking routine, set certain goals, rate your day, etc. Onlife is meant to observe interactions with digital services (such as your web browser mailer, IM client, etc.). The two of these services belong to a category of applications called "personal informatics" that track people's daily activities to eventually allow them to modify their behavior based on trends. Of course, there are plenty of others. Some are more well-known than others.

Why do I blog this? The two aforementioned examples are interesting as they reveal some patterns that people may not have noticed but two things struck me as important:

  • Both examples depict a sort of limited visualization of the traces that has been collected. In these two examples the information architecture is very similar (though it represents various things on the y axis) and the Gantt-like aspect could be replaced by other metaphors.
  • The overemphasis on quantification: in Walk with Me, most of the stuff here is about counting the number of steps, it allows to see accumulations (per day, etc.), cycles and holes during your days. However, life's more than quantification, there are single and non-repeated events that can make sense to (weak signals coming from nowhere) and I wonder how they could be taken into account with a certain weight. To some extent... how the quality of traces could be more elaborate and not just represented with a scale. Let's explore this more thoroughly