Terms such as “the quantified self” and “personal tracking” suggest that data is individual and personal. However, this has never really been the case. Self- tracking is done in situ and in the contexts of friendships, family life, workplaces and so on. Moreover, tracking can relate to shared places such as the home, and to shared technologies and devices. Tracking might also be of others, such as employees or relatives. Therefore we ask, how does such data fit with, mediate and change our everyday social relationships?
Building on numerous prior CHI & UbiComp workshops in this field (see personalinformatics.org and specifically our CHI 2015 workshop) we hope to bring together researchers and practitioners for a workshop that focuses explicitly on the implications of data-driven lives for social relationships (online or offline).
The issues and challenges in this area go beyond an instrumental view of data and concern for the efficacy of application in supporting outcomes such as behavioral change (to reduce energy consumption, improve recovery, increase productivity etc.). It is important to understand and address the ways in which data becomes enmeshed with identifies and social relationships.
We are interested in all kinds of social relationships, mediated or affected by data, either at the present time, or in the near future. These might be intimate, personal relationships (e.g., between family, couples, housemates, or with pets); professional relationships (e.g., work peers doctor/patient, teacher/student(s), managers/staff); relationships across social networks (e.g., support groups, teams, neighbors, or communities); or cross-cultural relationships (e.g. between nationalities, languages, or religions). In each case, the central question we hope to develop with the workshop is this:
How do we design for shared interactions and experiences with data, which acknowledge the messiness, intricacies, transitions and sensitivities within human relationships?
Although privacy is often the most immediate concern in the socializing of data, our workshop seeks to look much further than this. There are a much wider range of questions and issues that arise when looking at the social contexts and meanings of data. How can people be polite, affectionate or humorous with data? How does data foster or intervene in shared rituals and habits? Are there cultural values, which can be encompassed or transgressed with data?
These questions articulate a broad-minded design perspective – where we emphasize designing interactions with data that prioritize social experience, rather than seeking only ‘actionable insights’ towards some specific personal behaviour change.
The successes of previous workshops in the area of personal informatics demonstrate the breadth of existing researchers studying data-driven technologies. However, the ‘Beyond Personal Informatics’  workshop highlighted the appetite for more critical and socially oriented approaches to these technologies.
One particular aim of the workshop will therefore be to shift discourse that exists around personal informatics and self-tracking from being largely focused on individuals, to encompass social relationships, experiences and cultural norms and expectations.
As such, the workshop aims to develop a catalogue of compelling relationships with data, which exemplify the complex and social nature of personal informatics tools, and the opportunities and challenges for design.
Our full workshop proposal can be downloaded here.