“How well did I sleep last night? How relaxed am I right now? Will I feel better or worse tomorrow?” Personal informatics and self-tracking systems contribute to the expectation that personal health and wellness questions like these can be answered with data. Because visualizations play a pivotal role in many PI systems by making tracking data available to end users, design decisions related to visual encodings are deeply implicated in perceived associations between self-knowledge and pervasive personal data. This is particularly true for vulnerable populations like those who self-track to manage serious mental illnesses. This talk will focus on a recent co-design project conducted in collaboration with individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder, a serious mental illness characterized by difficult to predict mood swings and often controlled through therapeutic self-tracking. This work provides a basis for a discussion of 1) sense-making challenges related to the representation and interpretation of personal data and 2) the benefits, risks, and limitations of participatory approaches to designing personal data visualizations that better reflect lived experiences. In the process of describing this work, I will highlight some key questions about the creation and use of visual representations that ground the work that we do at the Visualization Studies Research Studio, including:
Jaime Snyder is an Assistant Professor in the Information School at the University of Washington in Seattle. Her research focuses on social aspects of visual practices in the information domain, visual materiality and ethics and values in the design of visual representations of information. She also serves as Adjunct Assistant Professor in the UW Department of Human-Centered Design and Engineering.
Snyder’s current research uses frameworks from visual studies to look at the activity of image making as an information-driven, communicative practice. Anyone who has clarified a thought or prompted a response during a conversation by drawing a picture or sketching out a relationship has exploited the potential of image making as a tool for conveying information. Rich descriptions of visually enabled conversation and social interactions can greatly inform and influence the design of tools for supporting collaboration and coordination. The goal of her research is to expand the ways that the creation and use of visual information are understood and supported by these systems.