Article- Assumptions in the Design of Self-Tracking Tools

I found this article by Sean Munson (U. of Washington) to be quite interesting.Always been impressed by their level of thought and care they bring to exploring self-tracking. Full disclosure, I’ve reviewed some of that group’s research as part of conference paper review committees.

Assumptions in the Design of Self-Tracking Tools


Thanks for posting this - super interesting. Sean Munson begins by introducing the influential paper by Ian Li, Anind Dey, and Jodi Forlizzi that many of us have read and cited, A Stage-Based Model of Personal Informatics Systems; then offers some other perspectives based on his and his colleagues extensive research. One thing I found particularly useful was his questioning of the individualistic assumptions in self-tracking tools. Our self is made with (and obviously by) others, so where are these others in our self tracking tools?

Here’s a quote from that section:

These challenges go beyond health applications. For example, while couples that make financial decisions jointly report greater satisfaction than couples that make decisions individually, popular financial websites (e.g., Mint, Personal Capital) allow only one login. This design choice nudges families to make one person primarily responsible for reviewing data. For a variety of behaviors and goals, personal informatics data offer families better opportunities to understand each other’s behavior and experiences, but only if tools support effective — and appropriately privacy- and impression-preserving — sharing of data.

From: Assumptions in the Design of Self-Tracking Tools by Sean Munson