School Seminar: Dealing With Information Overload in Multifaceted Personal Informatics Systems


Personal informatics systems are tools that capture, aggregate, and analyze data from distinct facets of their users’ lives. This article adopts a mixed-methods approach to understand the problem of information overload in personal informatics systems. We report findings from a 3-month study in which 20 participants collected multifaceted personal tracking data and used a system called Exist to reveal statistical correlations within their data. We explore the challenges that participants faced in reviewing the information presented by Exist, and we identify characteristics that exemplify “interesting” correlations. Based on these findings, we develop automated filtering mechanisms that aim to prevent information overload and support users in extracting interesting insights. We demonstrate how insight curation can be achieved using objective data harvested by the system, including the use of Google Trends data as a proxy for subjective user interest.



Simon Jones is a Lecturer in Human-Computer Interaction at the University of Bath, UK. He is a Co-Investigator on the Cyber Security Across the Lifespan (cSALSA) and Language of Collaborative Manufacturing (LOCM) EPSRC-funded research projects. He conducts research in areas related to privacy, security, communication analysis, personal informatics, and data visualisation. He is particularly interested in the analysis and visualization of large bodies of data for healthcare applications, and data mining techniques for studying computer-mediated communication.

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