Qualified Selves: Co-Creating Meaning Post-Big Data

Lead Research Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Department Name: Edinburgh College of Art

Abstract

Individuals are increasingly reliant on digital applications and services to store photos, documents, notes and other valued personal data. They are also accustomed to - and tacitly accept as a hidden cost of using otherwise 'free' services - these applications amassing activity data and metadata from which companies derive significant business value. For example, Facebook makes much of its £22bn yearly revenue by being able to precisely target advertisements to users by deciphering their unique preferences from their likes, tags, contacts, updates, photos, travel patterns etc (some accessed through permissions to Facebook via other apps) [BBC]. There is a highly lucrative, if shadowy, trafficking in users' data: data brokering companies such as Acxiom and Epsilon compile thorough dossiers on people's physical and mental health conditions, sexual orientation, personal vices, and vulnerabilities to aid companies in identifying likely consumers [CBS,SCH]. Meanwhile, there are no corresponding tools accessible for individuals to learn about themselves through their personal data.

Within recent years, there is a growing literacy around data as a medium for generating information and key insights. This is represented in the Quantified Self movement (see, e.g.: http://feltron.com), with individuals self-tracking their patterns of behaviour, physiological responses, productivity, correspondences etc with a view toward enabling personal reflection and gaining greater self-knowledge [LI]. Wearable activity trackers have been appropriated by some for self-diagnostic purposes: e.g. finding correlations between activities and symptoms to make informed changes to improve personal wellbeing [ROO]. There is untapped potential in applying this sensibility toward broader and deeper personal sense-making by drawing connections between the full diversity of one's personal data currently siloed in various services and applications - from the wide array of web services, to mobile applications, wearable and home IoT devices.
Personal Information Management (PIM) is a growing ICT sector with an estimated market worth of £16.5bn [NES]. Focusing on four major activities - keeping, finding, organizing and maintaining - PIM offers valuable insights into how to develop and sustain practices for effectively managing one's own data [KLI].

A particular challenge in developing PIM solutions is the individuality of lay data management techniques and strategies, which map onto people's individual strengths and familiar, established practices; in short, individuals thrive when they are able to develop strategies that work for them and for the particular goals they have defined. Given that many services ostensibly offer information management to users (albeit with pre-set UX constraints), an especially interesting frontier for extending PIM research lies in lifting data out from the applications that are currently managing them to support individualised, goal oriented collection and management of personal data - and further, offering techniques for managing between diverse data types (e.g. the minutia of metadata, narrative/textual data, photographic data, activity data, etc).

This project will fill several important gaps in understandings of personal sense-making, including: 1) in contrast to commercial ends for extracting, collecting and analysing people's personal data, understanding what kinds of self-knowledge would offer significant value to individuals, and how bridging personal data between applications and services might uniquely afford these personal insights; and 2) understanding how people can derive meaning from mixed data types and across applications, unbounded by the goal orientations of the individual applications or services they use to capture their personal data.

Planned Impact

The research expects to make significant impact across a number of communities. Emerging technologies such as those related to the Internet-of-Things, smart cities and wearables are radically accelerating the amount of data that is produced and consumed on a global scale. To fully engage the general public in use of this data (and create more meaningful and informed collective decision making) it is critical that we create better methods of humanising this data, making it intelligible and meaningful for everyone. This project will contribute to this big challenge for the ICT community in three key ways: (1) We will address the non-trivial question of what does it mean to derive meaning from data? This is a major challenge for this community and one that defies simplistic quantitative metrics. Through ethnographic investigations and extended engagement with extreme and typical users of personal data we aim to contribute real insights into how people might engage in rich dialogues with data. (2) We will provide insights about how people can better make sense of large qualitative personal datasets by co-creating and testing tools and techniques. Critically, we anticipate that rich solutions to this problem may require simultaneous innovation relating to externalising data (e.g. visualisation, machine learning) and internalising data (e.g. storytelling, mnemonics) and this will be tested throughout the project. (3) We will develop new open-source technologies and techniques that may provide valuable insights for related application domains for emerging technologies.

Academic Impact:
The project contributes to academic impact in building research capacity in the area of Personal Information Management (PIM) and research toward the Co-Creation of Data Science tools. This is achieved by providing an approach to understanding how extreme users of data find meaning in the applications that gather, sort and represent personal activities. This research provides a unique opportunity in a Post-Big Data society to understand the methods required to allow data science to better support publics and individuals in making sense of data that is often obfuscated in the siloed databases of apps. Academic impact on researchers would be achieved through publications, capacity building workshops and exhibitions of prototypes.

Public Impact:
Public impact is achieved through the development of a unique set of workshops and participatory activities that lead to an understanding of how to co-create across and toward managing data for personal use. The co-created tool kits from these sessions will offer usable platforms for publics to begin developing an ownership for the data that they have been gathering since they joined applications such as (for example) Facebook, Evernote and Strava. Public impact will be achieved through a series of high profile exhibitions.

Policy Impact:
The Policy impact of this project lies in informing existing models toward a data driven society through methods of co-creation and developing viable tools to allow policy makers to encourage publics to take control of data. By creating methods and tools that empower the public to design with personal data, the project cultivates a civic approach to data science. Supported by an advisory board, white papers will provide policy makers with access to the research findings whilst the use of workshops and exhibition will offer platforms for learning and co-creating the next generation of policies toward a data driven society for personal information management.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Qualified Selves: Co-Creating Meaning Post-Big Data is an Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC) funded project running throughout 2019 and 2020.

With this project, we filled important gaps in understandings of personal sense-making, including:

1. in contrast to commercial ends for extracting, collecting and analysing people's personal data, understanding what kinds of self-knowledge would offer significant value to individuals, and how bridging personal data between applications and services might uniquely afford these personal insights; and

2. understanding how people can derive meaning from mixed data types and across applications, unbounded by the goal orientations of the individual applications or services they use to capture their personal data.

Co-design workshops are vital to the design process of this project. Three workshops have enabled us to develop prototypes with our participants. These workshops have seen them expand their ideas, shape new modes of tracking and find ways of dealing with high-level challenges through many different designs.

Each workshop used various methods and resources have been developed to not only ease the co-design process but also provide those who would not usually consider themselves designers to design.

In addition to papers, the work was also exhibited and shared at the 2020 Dutch Design Week festival through videos and virtual experiences.
Exploitation Route Co-creation methods that future visions appear to be important in helping understand the consequences of living and working in the digital economy.
Sectors Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Financial Services, and Management Consultancy,Healthcare,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism

URL https://sensemake.org/
 
Description We attended Dutch Design Week (DDW) 2020, presenting our co-design principles and findings, alongside our partners at ImaginationLancaster at Lancaster University. Through conversations and panels we shared our thoughts, ideas and ambitions for personal data, including our relationship with and use of it. These discussions were presented as a TV series, which you can watch Episodes 1-4 here. We also re-imagined the in-person exhibition - to be presented in Eindhoven at DDW but, due to COVID-19 restrictions, was not possible - in Edinburgh. We filmed the experience with an aim to give you as close to the full experience as possible. You can watch Episode 5 - The Exhibition here. The exhibition is a navigation through the co-design experience of three people living with their personal data and asking you to discover your own ideals along the way. In the exhibition, you learn more about the three participants and the provotypes and prototypes they co-design. You can learn more about these exhibition elements here.
First Year Of Impact 2020
Sector Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice,Transport
Impact Types Societal,Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description Research Centre meeting between Design Informatics and BBC R&D 
Organisation British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution The two R&D teams from The Centre for Design Informatics, University of Edinburgh and R&D BBC, met in Media City to show and tell their respective research 'play books'. From Edinburgh: Prof. Chris Speed, Chair of Design Informatics, Design Informatics, Uni Edinburgh Dr. Ewa Luger, Chancellors Fellow, Design Informatics, Uni Edinburgh Prof. Burkhard Schafer, Professor of Computational Legal Theory, Director, SCRIPT Centre for IT and IP Law, Uni Edinburgh Dr. Larissa Pschetz, Lecturer, Design Informatics, Uni Edinburgh Dr. Dave Murray-Rust, Lecturer, Design Informatics, Uni Edinburgh Dr. Susan Lechelt, Research Associate (Creative Informatics), Design Informatics, Uni Edinburgh Dr. Pip Thornton, Research Associate (Creative Informatics), Design Informatics, Uni Edinburgh Liam Upton, Marketing and Comms for Creative Informatics, Design Informatics, Uni Edinburgh Nicola Osborne, Programme Manager, (Creative Informatics), Design Informatics, Uni Edinburgh Michaela Turner, Business Development Manager, (Creative Informatics), Design Informatics, Uni Edinburgh Dr. Evan Morgan, Senior Research Developer, Design Informatics, Uni Edinburgh Dr. Chris Elsden, Research Associate (Creative Informatics), Design Informatics, Edinburgh College of Art* Dr. Michael Smyth, Co-Director Creative Informatics, Edinburgh Napier University Dr. Ingi Helgason, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Interaction Design, Edinburgh Napier University Prof.Chris Speed: presenting an overview of Design Informatics & Creative Informatics Ewa: Data, privacy and ethics Dave Murray-Rust: Social computing and data viz Larissa Pschetz: Interaction design for decentralised networks
Collaborator Contribution From the BBC: Natasha Westland (Intelligible ML tools) Max Leonard (BBC Box/Databox - working with Re Jones) https://www.bbc.co.uk/rd/blog/2019-06-bbc-box-personal-data-privacy Alex Nelson , on behalf of Lianne Kerlin (Human Values) Libby Miller and Tim Cowlishaw (Tellybox prototypes, Better Radio Experiences, A Better Internet...) https://www.bbc.co.uk/rd/projects/public-service-internet https://www.bbc.co.uk/rd/blog/2018-10-artificial-intelligence-archive-television-bbc4 https://www.bbc.co.uk/rd/projects/responsible-machine-learning https://www.bbc.co.uk/rd/blog/2019-01-tellybox-content-discovery-video-watch Matt Brooks (Object-based Media) https://www.bbc.co.uk/rd/projects/object-based-media-toolkit https://storyplayer.pilots.bbcconnectedstudio.co.uk/experience/click1000 Alia Sheikh (360/VR) https://www.bbc.co.uk/rd/blog/2017-08-explore-the-edinburgh-festivals-using-360-video-and-webvr https://www.bbc.co.uk/taster/pilots/edinburgh360 James Gibson (5G Augmented Reality Roman Baths demo) https://www.bbc.co.uk/rd/blog/2019-02-5g-mobile-augmented-reality-bath
Impact TeenTech workshop was a direct outcome, Further work on Values and value is ongoing.
Start Year 2019
 
Description (2020) Invited talk: Future of Personal Data: Designing a Qualified Self? ? 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Speed, C. Dixon, B, Morgan, E, (2020) Invited talk: Future of Personal Data: Designing a Qualified Self 16/01/2020 Manchester Futurists, Autotrader building - 1 Tony Wilson Place Manchester M15 4FN,
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description "Connecting with audiences using digital content" - "Get A 'Proper' Job podcast, (October) series two, episode #3 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This episode focused on who and where creatives can reach with digital content and how to measure that engagement.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://creativecardiff.org.uk/get-proper-job-series-two-episode-3-connecting-audiences-using-digita...
 
Description 'My Data, My Self' at Dutch Design Week 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact For Dutch Design Week (DDW) 2020, Design Informatics, DDI at The University of Edinburgh and Imagination Lancaster have come together to share thoughts, ideas and ambitions for personal data, including our relationship with and use of it.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.designinformatics.org/news/design-informatics-dutch-design-week-2020/
 
Description 2050 Think Pieces for Scottish Government: 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The Scottish Government is keen to bring together views and ideas from a wide
range of sectors and to explore the priorities Scotland's fourth National Planning
Framework (NPF4) should address.
In the fifteenth in a series of Think Pieces, Professor Chris Speed, Chair of Design
Informatics at the University of Edinburgh, sets out his thoughts on Scotland2050 on
data-driven technologies.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.transformingplanning.scot/national-planning-framework/call-for-ideas/2050-think-pieces
 
Description Academics warn of the dangers of too much tech in your house, The Metro 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 08/06/2019 Academics warn of the dangers of too much tech in your house, The Metro
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://metro.co.uk/2019/06/06/academics-warn-of-the-dangers-of-too-much-tech-in-your-house-9839873/...
 
Description British Computing Society, Human Computer Interaction Doctoral School 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact British Computing Society, Human Computer Interaction Doctoral School
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Co-designing with Things 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Co-designing with Things
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Critical Digital Economies 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Macdonald, Speed, Thornton, Rankin, Dixon, Pschetz: Critical Digital Economies, 5/12/20-13/12/20, Shanghai, China Exhibition http://www.ade-futurelab.com/index.php/index/school/id/152
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL http://www.ade-futurelab.com/index.php/index/school/id/152
 
Description Critical Digital Economies Exhibition (Shanghai) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The display of artwork and design prototypes would give visitors a better understanding of the value of data in the digital economy and encourage them to consider whether the use of data is in line with their own value. "Key Digital Economy" selects the work of the Institute of Design Informatics, which is led by Professor Chris Speed from the Edinburgh School of Art at the University of Edinburgh.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL http://www.ade-futurelab.com/index.php/index/school/id/152
 
Description Data is the new oil: Rise of the internet connected smart products means our private information is increasingly valuable to companies, experts warn 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 06/06/2019 Data is the new oil: Rise of the internet connected smart products means our private information is increasingly valuable to companies, experts warn, The Daily Mail
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-7111575/Our-data-valuable-oil-expert-warns.html
 
Description Dutch Design Week My Data, May Self: 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Dutch Design Week My Data, May Self:
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://ddw.nl/en/programme/4944/my-data-my-self
 
Description Future of Personal Data: Designing a Qualified Self 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact How might we track data differently in the future? How do we derive meaning from it? Can we develop tools to help people directly derive this meaning themselves whilst addressing the challenges they may face?

Current tracking devices such as wearables and apps are limited in the types of data that they can track and how they collect, maintain and use it. Users are often 'locked into' a system and cannot adapt the data in the ways they wish.

We present several prototypes created by a team of data collecting experts that expand our ideas about what data is, how it is collected and the ways in which we use it in our daily lives. Each prototype addresses a different aspect of data tracking, shifting the quantified self - self-tracking that is shaped by numerical inputs - to the qualified self and more holistic ways of tracking.

Qualified Selves is a joint research project between Lancaster and Edinburgh Universities. This event will provide an opportunity to provide feedback into the designs so far, whilst expanding your ideas on not only how data can help us, but additionally how design can be enriched by bringing users into all stages of the design process.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.meetup.com/Manchester-Futurists/events/267164054/
 
Description Invited Talk: Co-Designing with Things. ScotSoft 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited Talk: Co-Designing with Things. ScotSoft conference 3rd Oct. EICC, Edinburgh
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://scotsoft.scot/speakers/chris-speed/
 
Description Keynote address: Co-Creating Value within a Digital Heritage Economy 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Keynote address: Co-Creating Value within a Digital Heritage Economy. Heritage Dot Conference, 3-4 June 2019. University of Lincoln, Lincoln.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL http://heritagedot.org/contributors/
 
Description Never Alone: Living with the Internet of Things, Panel @ Cheltenham Science Festival 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The way we live with technology is changing. Objects that were once benign are now thinking. In the future it's not just your family and pets that demand your attention - a global
network of needy devices is growing! Danielle Knight, Chris Speed and Joseph Lindley explore how our changing relationship with household objects is affecting our lives, work, families and future.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://cheltenhamfestivals-assets.s3.amazonaws.com/assets/File/17250.pdf
 
Description Souter featuring Co-Creation / LARP 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This is a parafictional account of the Transcultural Data Pact, a game using roleplay to explore how personal and collective data practices and devices might shape the attitudes and fortunes of a society. Transcultural Data Pact was a Qualified Selves research event created by Ruth Catlow (Furtherfield/DECAL) with Dr Kruakae Pothong, Billy Dixon, Dr Evan Morgan and Prof. Chris Speed from Edinburgh University, in collaboration with Kate Genevieve. Findings contribute to a research paper Human-Computer Interaction (CHI).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://texturmag.com/under-negotiation-by-anna-souter
 
Description The value of data + design to society 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The blog focus on key issues impacting the local business landscape by exploring new ideas and concepts that solves the latest challenges.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Think Piece on the theme of Scotland2050 for Scottish Government 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact 2050 Think Pieces for Scottish Government

We asked planning stakeholders to provide think piece contributions on Scotland 2050 to stimulate discussion and debate during the early engagement period and to help stakeholders to think about priorities for NPF4.

Martin Valenti -
Environmentally Responsible Economic Growth

Emma Ritch -
Gender Inclusive Places

Fiona Garven -
Community Development

Russell Jones -
Healthy Places

Steven Tolson -
A Plan to Grow More Food

Diana Findley -
Places for Older People

Aedan Smith -
Scotland's Environment

Dr Ruth Lightbody -
Community Engagement

Anna Beswick and Joseph Hagg -
Adaptive Places

Jim Valentine -
Our Cities

Diarmid Hearns -
Nature on a National Scale

Stephanie Conesa -
Our Renewable Energy

Vincent Goodstadt -
Scotland 2050: Lessons from Our Spatial Planning Heritage

John Lauder -
Our Active Travel Networks

Professor Chris Speed -
Our Arts and Cultural Environment

Rona Gibb -
Our Active Travel Networks

Calum Macleod -
A Thriving Rural Scotland

Tim German -
Our Energy Systems

Deryck Irving -
Future Green Networks

Liam Fowley MSYP -
Report on #WhatsYourTake

Angus Hardie -
Empowered Communities

Susie Fitton -
Places for Disabled People

Grant Carson -
Building a More Accessible World for us all

Jim Birrell -
Future Chief Planning Officers

Sally Thomas -
Our Future Homes

Phil Prentice -
Town Centres of The Future

Riddell Graham -
Our Tourist Industry

Elaine Fotheringham -
Our Flood Risk Management

Tammy Swift-Adams -
Enjoying The Fruits of Collaboration

Dr Matthew Lane -
Self and Custom Build

Andy Milne -
Rebalancing and Regenerating Planning for People and Places

Professor Iain Docherty -
An Accessible Scotland

Anne Johnstone -
Our Vacant and Derelict Land

Jo O'Hara -
Forestry and Woodland

Andy Kerr -
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.transformingplanning.scot/media/1265/tp-our-arts-and-cultural-enviroment-v2.pdf
 
Description Transcultural Data Pact LARP 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Transcultural Data Pact LARP
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020