Personal Physicalization


Supporting reflections on one’s own life is a central goal of personal informatics systems. This project explores how the manual construction of visualizations can support deep self-reflection.

For our study we designed a kit of simple physical materials and instructions. We asked participants to create their own visualizations of a topic of their choice from the provided materials. The study was conducted in participants’ homes over the course of two to four weeks. We collected diary entries and conducted semi-structured interviews. We analysed this data using a thematic analysis approach.

In our study we found that the process of designing and constructing data representations was deeply intertwined with fundamental self-reflections. Participants reflected not only on the data, but on their personal context, their actions, and personal values. The physical nature of the representations further allowed the objects and the process to become integrated with participants’ everyday practices and environments.