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Data Won’t Change Your Behavior. A Critical Design Exploration of Quantified Self Technologies

Data Won’t Change Your Behavior. A Critical Design Exploration of Quantified Self Technologies 

Eva Durall and Teemu Leinonen / Finland
Aalto University
Paper

Data is becoming a ubiquitous phenomenon in our culture. Technologies that collect data about us on our behalf, such as lifelogging and quantified self devices, have been presented as able to help people change behaviors. This paper presents a study exploring the meaningfulness of these devices and their use. To investigate this topic, we designed our own QS device, using a critical design approach, called Feeler. We also conducted an experiment in which five participants used the device. Feeler guides users to meditate, study, and play. When the user is engaged in these activities with the device, it collects biological data (EEG) from the user and further asks users to share their own impressions about their attention and relaxation levels. From the experiment we collected about 7.5 hours of audio data, including think-aloud and semi-structured interviews. The audio was processed by marking interesting sections for further analysis and contextualization. Our results indicate that people are trustful of QS technologies and the ability of such technologies to help them initiate behavioral changes. We also found out that the use of these technologies is targeted towards productivity and self-improvement, such as avoiding procrastination, improving focus, and avoiding social media.