Focusing Storica to Certain Needs and Interests: Diary Mode Explained

At TecVis, we believe that recording your life (through AIRS) and recollecting your recordings (through Storica) is driven by the particular purpose why you decided to record in the first place. This purpose can be to record your holiday or a simple day out. It can be the quest for finding out what you enjoy most throughout the day or simply the interest in a vast evidence that tells you more about where you go, how you feel and what you do in general.

This purpose of recording defines a set of needs and interests, and with the possible change of purpose (what can be a recording of your holiday today can be the recording of your workday tomorrow) there comes a change of these needs and interests naturally throughout the usage of the underlying tools, here AIRS and Storica.

A main goal in designing AIRS and Storica is to support these changing needs and interests in recording your life data and making it easier to accommodate these needs and interests in the setup of your recordings and the recollection of the data being recorded. While we covered the former, i.e., the setup of your recordings, in other pages on this site, we cover in this post specifically the usage of diary modes in Storica to adapt the experience of your recordings to changing interests.

Diary modes were introduced with Storica V1.4 in August 2013. These modes represent a high-level description of your interest in your recorded data, such as travel, general lifelogging and (in the future) others like mood or stress.

Dairy modes are exposed using the navigation drawer UI of Android. With this, you can choose your diary mode in the main view of Storica by swiping the navigation drawer into your view from the left and selecting the desired diary mode (Storica will remember the current selection for your next visit):


When having selected the desired diary mode, you will see adaptations of the visualisations throughout all parts of Storica. This is achieved by influencing (at the moment) three main characteristics of how to select information that is shown to you:

  1. meaningful events: Digital stories within Storica are compiled by teasing meaningful events from the pool of recordings throughout the day. Meaningful here depends very much so on the interest that you have in looking back at your data, i.e., changing the diary mode changes the events we will tease out for you. For example, while general lifelogging will tease social communication (calls, SMS as well as calendar events), event and mood annotations, and snapshots taken from your recordings, the travel diary will leave out calendar events from this list since we assume less importance on scheduled events throughout travel. When expanding in the future to other diaries, such as mood, we expect even more concentration on a smaller list of events (compared to the rather wide list in the general lifelogging diary).
  2. context events: Core to the presentation of what happened during the day is our context panel, which is usually shown at the lower bottom of the story, media or map view. The icons in the panel represent selected context information that can help you determine what happened at that very moment in time. Changing the diary mode, and therefore your interest in the recordings, will influence the selection of context information that is shown to you in this panel.
    As an example, have a look at a marker event in the map view above. The upper snapshot shows the context panel for the travel diary, focussing on movement (running here) and environmental data such as pressure and light as well as noise level. Below, you see the more elaborate context panel for the lifelogging diary, which also includes system information such as tasks running, RAM available, cell signal strength and the battery level. Selecting the travel diary here allows for focussing on items that are likely to be more important than a general interest in the wider pool of data.
  3. Detailed visualisations: Another entry point for showing information to you is the list of context information that you can visualise through timelines or tag clouds. This list is shown to you after you select the timeline symbol in the visualisation selector for each day.
    Again at the top, you see the (shorter) list for the travel diary, focussing on few environmental information and speed as well as SMS/call information. The list for the general lifelogging diary (below) is much longer, again including system information such as tasks running, battery information and RAM available.

What Next?

The adaptations provided in release V1.4 are just the beginning of tailoring the presented information to the interests you might have. In the future, we will include other adaptations, such as those to the background selection for the story, moving from the current location-dependent selection of the story event background to other selection criteria (such as your current mood).

In addition, we plan to release more complex infographics for periods like the current month, these infographics all being adapted to the currently selected diary mode. Furthermore, the planned introduction of search queries for periods like the current month will also be tailored to the diary mode that has been selected by you, the user.

What about other diary modes? Changing your interests only makes sense if we offer you appropriate selections beyond the currently limited list. We are experimenting with other diary modes that focus on mood, stress, activity level (i.e., fitness) and others. The consideration in all these offered modes will be the selection of data that is emphasised throughout all visualisations being offered by Storica.

What if there is something I’m interested in that you don’t offer? Firstly, we’d love you to drop us an email with your suggestion since we’d love to hear about what you are interested in seeing. Secondly, we hope that the general lifelogging diary always covers a wide enough range that will satisfy many needs. Thirdly, we are also thinking of allowing for a self-definition of what your diary is supposed to look like. The main problem here is the UI for selecting the most crucial pieces but it is something that is on our long list of things to think about.


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