Dealing with Information Overload in Multifaceted Personal Informatics Systems

Simon Jones, Ryan Kelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (SciVal)
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Personal informatics systems are tools that capture, aggregate, and analyze data from distinct facets of their users’ lives. This article adopts a mixed-methods approach to understand the problem of information overload in personal informatics systems. We report findings from a 3-month study in which 20 participants collected multifaceted personal tracking data and used a system called Exist to reveal statistical correlations within their data. We explore the challenges that participants faced in reviewing the information presented by Exist, and we identify characteristics that exemplify “interesting” correlations. Based on these findings, we develop automated filtering mechanisms that aim to prevent information overload and support users in extracting interesting insights. Our approach deals with information overload by reducing the number of correlations shown to users by about 55% on average and increases the percentage of displayed correlations rated as interesting to about 81%, representing a 34 percentage point improvement over filters that only consider statistical significance at p <.05. We demonstrate how this curation can be achieved using objective data harvested by the system, including the use of Google Trends data as a proxy for subjective user interest.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-48
Number of pages48
JournalHuman-Computer Interaction
Issue number1
Early online date13 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Human-Computer Interaction


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