Between health and healthcare : a lifeworld perspective on personal informatics

Abstract: This thesis explores the role of technology in digitized life focusing on lived experiences of personal informatics technologies in health and healthcare contexts. The work departs from an interest in how digital technologies affects us as individuals in contemporary life. The use personal informatics and self-tracking technologies are explored both in everyday and healthcare contexts. These technologies are used to support self-monitoring and behavioral change, both to improve general health and for patients with chronic illness. In the thesis, personal informatics technologies are studied in the contextual transition between health to healthcare with the purpose of providing a deeper understanding of how these particular kinds of digital devices affect human experience in everyday life.This research is based on four empirical studies addressing different aspects of how personal informatics technologies redefine the understanding of self at the intersection between health and healthcare contexts. Data was analysed in two steps: an inductive analysis followed by a deductive analysis based on a postphenomenological framework. Findings from the inductive analysis give support for the existing critique of personal informatics being too much concerned with metrics, behaviour and a simplified understanding of self. Applying a postphenomenological framework to the empirical material demonstrates how personal informatics technologies mediates experiences of self, health and healthcare. The analysis also reveals the bidirectional nature of technological mediation making particular experiences foregrounded and more accessible, while downplaying other experiences as less visible and accessible. This lifeworld perspective opens up for understanding the lived experiences of personal informatics technologies in everyday life. This is a contribution to understanding the role of technology in digitized life. It is also a contribution to user experience design as the lifeworld perspective opens up several design challenges concerning how design of personal informatics can shift its focus from the user to the everyday life of a person.The design challenges found in this thesis are closely related to fields such as norm-critical design, norm-creative design and speculative design, aspiring beyond normative understandings of technology use and design. The postphenomenological analysis suggest four dimensions for further scrutiny in health and healthcare contexts. The dimensions are ontological, epistemological, practical and ethical. For each of these dimensions there are bidirectional aspects that can be used in order to deliberate on implications for design. It is about what is revealed and concealed, what is magnified and reduced, what is enabled and constrained and finally what involves and alienates when people engage with personal informatics technologies. The thesis concludes that the lifeworld perspective on personal informatics, including the postphenomenological analytical framework, supports further critical examinations of the role of technology in digitized life.