#12. Experiment 2: Experience summary and visualization

Today, we record a lot. We take pictures, track our activities, take notes on mobile, post on social media and so on. In other words, more data is being generated than ever before.

However, we never organize.

We just record it and leave it as it is. Because of this, whenever we want to revisit our past records, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by tremendous of data. Also, all data such as photos, notes, and activity is dispersed now, our memories are fragmented and it’s hard to have cohesive view of our past.

In this context, I came up with my hypothesis 1.

Hypothesis 1: If all personal data is gathered in one place, people can remember their past memories comprehensively and efficiently

To validate it, I need to make prototype using personal data. So I asked Sara, who is my accountability buddy, to share the data of her past trip. It was trip to Washington DC for three days. The data I’ve got includes photos, posts on social media, notes, and activity tracking app data. Then, I organized those data by date and made a data set. With this data set, I created a prototype and test it with 3 people.

First Prototype (Type A)

Prototype Type A

When you put your time frame in the system, it makes a summary of those time frame. It indicates where you visited, how much you walked, who was along with, photos, and notes you took at that time. And of course when you tap elements such as photos, you can see the detail.

With this prototype, I asked a question to the participants. The answer was all yes.

Q. Does this all-in-one style help you remember your past comprehensively?

Especially, they said the package of the location information, photos and notes was helpful to remember past. So my hypothesis turned out right. However, a question coming up in my mind at the same time.

“Is it enough?”

Because I can see many services and technologies these days are attempting to do this. For example, iPhone’s memories features, they try to organize my past pictures with location information, people, etc. But I feel that many of those attempts looked so mechanical that there’s no way to engage it in emotional way. Remembering past is also emotional experience. Where is fun part on those services?

So I made the second hypothesis.

Hypothesis 2: A dynamic representation of personal data can make self-reflection process richer, deeper and playful than numerical and mechanical data representation

and as a sub hypothesis,

Hypothesis 2–1: When people enjoy self-reflection, They reflect on their past more and forget past memories less.

For the second prototype, I used same data set and transfer it to some playful visual art piece rather than making a summary with data like I did for Type A.

Second Prototype (Type B)

Prototype Type B

When you put your time frame in the system, it creates different visual arts by date. And of course, each visual elements represent different raw data. For example, Line means your travel path, Shapes mean places you visited and photos you took, Background means weather, and Tags are extracted from your note.

With two different prototype, I did A/B Testing. Simply let people use it and asked some questions. Followings are questions and their response.

Q. Which one do you enjoy more?
Q. Which one does help you remember your past more in detail?
Q. Which one does help you remember your past efficiently?
Q. Which one do you think you will visit more for long-term use

Result

Through making prototype and testing it, I could validate my hypothesis. For this case two are right and one is wrong.

Hypothesis 1: If all personal data is gathered in one place, people can remember their past memories comprehensively and efficiently — RIGHT!
Hypothesis 2: A dynamic representation of personal data can make self-reflection process richer, deeper and playful than numerical and mechanical data representation — RIGHT!
Hypothesis 2–1: When people enjoy self-reflection, They reflect on their past more and forget past memories less. — WRONG!

People enjoy dynamic data representation for short term use, but for long term use simple summary will work better. In other words, people see the value of enjoyment for short term use more, but they prefer efficiency for longterm use. So I could mediate between two different types of representation on different purposes. Actually this exercise was aiming to test small doubts that I had than to test bigger and important problem. And I’ve got some insights that I can utilize for developing future solutions through this hypothesis prototype!

Additional Thoughts

Even though I started from this plan, I refined it a few times to make it perfectly make sense. However, I feel that the more I think, the less I understand. I feel that I’m mentally overloaded and lost. During in-class activity, I was paired with my classmate Kohzy to develop our hypothesis. I talked about what I feel and where I am now. Conversation with Kohzy really helped me get out of thoughts congestion. Also, my accountability buddy, Sara, suggested me to just make something regardless of how my idea is clear. If I make something, it will make me understand what I wanted to do clearly. And it actually works for me. I realized that many times just starting to make something does really help me to shape my thinking and ideas. So I decided to just make something whenever I am stuck. Also, talk with others to get out of overthinking.