User-driven development of a freeware Citizen Diary

I have been developing a cross-platform freeware diary-tool over the last 14 years, and would like to open a discussion to organize collaboration around it.Implemented features in Phenomenalog v.19.0.1, numbered to facilitate further discussion):

    1. Freeware
    1. Cross-platform for Windows, Mac and soon also Linux
    1. Automation of time indexing,
    1. Feature of searching , backwards and forwards
    1. Feature of parsing, -producing a file of all timeindexed lines (with n lines before n lines after) where a word or a glyph appeared in the accumulated diary
    1. Integration with calendar (for fast access to previous days in accumulated day-cards – for swift brief quoting to calendar –and for reminders, to be quoted on opening a specific later day)
    1. Integration with address book, (with search function)
    1. Options for quoting to and from the diary
    1. Options for easy assembling time-stamped notes/quotes in a large number of separate accumulating thematic fields - be it symptoms, promises, books read, films seen, passwords and pin-codes to be remembered, relatives, collaborators etc
    1. Option for printing text of any accumulated thematic field
    1. Options to print full diary text from single day or span of days
    1. Option to supplement text-entries with entries of pictograms (Glyphs) for recurrent typicality’s of situations, actions and events in everyday life, as a kind of shorthand,
    1. Option for personally selecting which pictograms from an expanding library of glyphs user finds it worth to use screen space for on his/her intra-personal dialogue –scene.
    1. Options for user to alter and redesign the interface
    1. That diary automatically - for each day - accumulates a row in a table of data from

a) daily counts of use of selected glyphs (e.g. medicine, alcohol, cigarette,)
b) typed physiological data (e.g. blood pressure, weight, temperature)
c) typed word-described symptoms or other cue words: e.g. weather.

    1. The option for user to create links (for single days- or permanently) to any file, folder or program/application in the laptop. (Use of such links automatically to be indicated in the diary to make the personal information-handling more transparent in its time-perspectives).
    1. Functionalities for email by clicking e-mail address and for visiting homepages by clicking it, on namecards within ones own virtual address book
    1. Inclusion of browser functionality enabling user to accumulate and organize Internet bookmarks in 2D and 2 ½ D cognitive maps. (Use of such links also automatically to be indicated in the diary)
    1. Accumulation of a single, daily growing, Journal htm.file, containing the content of diary text of consecutive days
    1. A superordinate metacognitive field/file, permitting time indexed quotes from any previous daycard and reflective comments
    1. An option for any user to publish a clone of the program as designed for a chosen target-group, e.g. pre-distribution of most relevant glyph-buttons, hiding unnecessary features for that group and naming thematic fields for the expected needs of that group.
    1. An option for any user to offer and cooperate on developing a translation of the user-interface to other languages.
    1. An option for any user to suggest/co-design new glyphs, found to be missing
    1. A forum, accessible to all users, to discuss their experience, problems met, and ideas for improvement.
    1. A “Hide-button” which immediately empties the screen for any trace of the diary, except its shortcut on the bottom panel, meaning that its use can alternate with all other uses of the computer, while quickly hidden, if others approach to inspect the laptop screen.
    1. A retro option to insert text&glyphs to earlier times same day, - to the extent user cares to detail the chronology of the day
    1. An annotation option , enabling time-indexed reflection/commentary to be inserted after any line in the diary ( I dont know, whether this can be considered as the tagging Janice Ropers suggests, - else quoting to the superordinate metacognitive field (20) is another tagging-option
    1. Supplementary backgrounds, one click away, for logical distribution of glyphbuttons on backgrounds like: virtual body, virtual home, virtual garden, virtual neighbourhood, virtual workplace etc.—
    1. One thematic field is constructed as a (resortable) table: The personal treasure of usernames, accountnumbers, accesscodes, passwords & pincodes
  • 30): Options for updating the count of cigarettes, drinks & medicine

    1. Option for suspending the time-indexing, - usefull when user wants to compose a letter, a poem, a response to a discussion etc
    1. Automatic saving at user defined intervals
    1. Option for extensive hiding unwanted fields and functions
    1. Automatic backups for last three complete diary savings
    1. Installers for normal windows, 10inch windows and Mac

All these features are realized in the latest version of “Phenomenalog

we can pursue the development of lay citizen documentary power
A democratizing citizen- scientist power of self- documentation

The “Quantified Self” -movement points to the countless new techniques for monitoring, tracking and storage of personal and private biographical data, be it body temperature, EEG, blood sugar, blood pressure , GPS- tracks etc.
Motivations for personal use may be very different, related to health, sports, competition, or purely autobiographical.

I suggest that digital selfquantification be contextualized in digital selfqualification. -
A freeware citizen diary can serve as the backbone and core of all the self-quantifying approaches opening up, not least in relation to telemedicine
And the possibility for citizens therein to develop their own personal subjective cyberspaces will be central in building digital democracies.

Expect a positive domino effect in the spread, across languages, of a freeware citizen diary and its ongoing user-driven evolution.

Let us discuss realistic strategies to initiate and organize this.
mail: kresten.bjerg at

1 Like

With what calendar? Does it sync to my google calendar?

[quote]* 7) Integration with address book, (with search function)
[/quote]With what address book? Does it sync to my google addressbook?

[quote]* 19) Accumulation of a single, daily growing, Journal htm.file, containing the content of diary text of consecutive days
[/quote]Why no SQLlite database?
This is probably why your software is slow.

Why isn’t the word ‘open source’ anywhere in this post if you speak about user-driven development?
To me this seems very strange.
It gives me the impression that the program got created by a psychology professors who don’t know much about modern software design.

Dear Christian
Thank you for your interest.
Calender is a built in, with quite complicated integration, back and forth, where days extend beyound 24 oclock etc. But you may produce link to other calendars.
Adresses also is a built-in, reporting searches and mail-calls to daycard. but you may produce link to other adress books.
The accumulating html-file, storing all texts - with glyphs - is not slowing down anything.
If SQLite should be used, it should be to handle the quantitative spreadsheet. If it could help to turn data into zoomable curves, it might be relevant.
Open Source: well, the scripts are accessible, but their code is “Live Code” which is a proprietary program. User-driven development: Feed-back from users will be used to produce improved versions. Not least: designs for missing glyphs
Psychology-professor, yes,admittedly.
Modern software design ? I am sure you know a lot more than I know. If you care to help improve the live code scripts I shall welcome you as a pro bono collaborator.
See 13 minutes video decribing and explaining the freeware tool for diary-keeping and the road towards its user-driven development Download the program, find out how you will arrange and adapt your interface, use it for a few weeks, and then contact me, with ideas for improvements.
Best regards

1 Like

[quote]The accumulating html-file, storing all texts - with glyphs - is not slowing down anything.[/quote]Writing into an SQLlite database should be a lot faster than rewriting the html file everytime something changes.

You wrote something about saving in regular intervals. Today I expect a software to safe everything I write without me having to think about saving. It should just happen when I put data into the application.

[quote]User-driven development: Feed-back from users will be used to produce improved versions.[/quote]That’s true for all professional developed software.

[quote]Adresses also is a built-in, reporting searches and mail-calls to daycard. but you may produce link to other adress books.[/quote]The basic issue is that my address book is something that I need to be able to access without using a computer.
It’s in my smartphone.

[quote]Adresses also is a built-in, reporting searches and mail-calls to daycard.[/quote]A desktop program can’t simply report calls on it’s own.

You need to have a program on the phone to log phone calls.
At the moment my phone calls get automatically logged into my Google calendar through an Android App.

[quote]Download the program, find out how you will arrange and adapt your interface, use it for a few weeks, [/quote]I would only use such a program for a few weeks for a serious amount of information if it would easily allow me to leave afterwards without losing the information I entered. To get the data that I put into the application into my standard framework.

Basically calendar data into Google calendar, Addresses into Google addresses and pure text into Evernote.

I use all 3 services because I trust that they will continue to developed and because they allow me to leave with my information.
Should Evernote collapse as a company there the open source NeverNote that can handle the data without any problem. A lot of smart people also use Evernote and have an interest that they can take the data with them to a new service and therefore write a parser.

When it comes to software that creating data that I want to still want to have in 10 years, freedom to leave is important.
Trust in the software being around for a while also helps. Making software open source would help with the trust issues as other people could continue to develop it should you stop developing it.

The straight forward way to make it open source would be to put it under GPL3 and put the code on github.
Otherwise what’s your motivation for not making it open source? If you don’t want to charge for it I see no reason to keep it closed.

I appreciate you meticulous replies.
But I am afraid you underestimate the complexity of the software. The scripts are distributed in a complex structure, afforded by the LiveCode environment, where the standalones for mac and windows (and Linux) are produced. With LiveCode being a proprietary program unfortunately no truely open sourcing is possible.
User-driven development of cross platform freeware is not a matter of course, - and the ambitious growth potentials, not least in respect of replenishing the arsenal of glyphs (e.g for illness-specific symptoms) and coordination with QS tracking devices and apps + the potentials of translating the interface to other languages should outweigh the weaknesses you correctly point out.
I am fully aware, that the million dollars features of e.g. google calendar, adresses and evernote and smartphone apps are succeding in satisfying some basic needs of personal info-householding.
And it would be nice, if somehow, some day they could be integrated with phenomenalog.
But the phenomenalog enterprise is so much more, in offering any citizen a toolset to track whatever seems relevant over days,weeks, months and years of own personal everyday life, to link to programs,folders and files on own laptop and to www sites through built-in browser, to quantify a number of parameters (e.g. sleeplength, cigarettes, alcohol,blood.pressure etc.), and to parse back for contextualized appearance of any word or glyph in the diary.
And the feature of the glyph-shorthand not to be disregarded.
As to the saving features: User can adjust the standard saving frequency . As to the html file, it is automatically replenished when new daycard is (automatically) produced. This allows you to leave afterwards without losing the information you entered.