Empowering Citizen Self-documentation: Re-inventing the Diary



The paper outlines a series of assumptions about the future of ICT in the global broadband society and presents the theoretical reasoning behind a conceptual model, posing the notions of the “oikosphere” ( from greek Oikos=Home) and the “somasphere”, and the formation of adequate reflexive tools as indispensable and necessary basis for any farsighted user oriented developmental agenda.

It describes the background history and prolonged development of an early prototype of a reflexive tool, and goes into details concerning an instrumental innovation: Anticipated collaborative development of a global nucleus of glyphs referring to typicality’s of events and phenomena pertaining to the everyday life of citizens anchored in domestic settings, - outside or inside the broadband society.

It places this developmental agenda in the context of a wider vision of an upcoming free-ware information-economy, where each person has a personal laptop, and challenges the traditional role of research as conducted by professionals with the notion of Citizen Science, empowering any citizen to collect empirically validated data concerning ongoing proximal phenomena

 Advantages to be gained from this type of approach e.g. in learning and healthcare are explicated, and a call for collaborative cross-cultural efforts to elaborate and refine this type of instrument is made.




Fundamental conceptual structures

Home Oriented Informatics & Telematics

From outer space to inner space

What is so special about Home Informatics?

The future 'electronic habitat' and "the information highway"

Anticipating the expectable

The Oikosphere and the Somasphere

Development of a preliminary prototype

Background history
Advantages of an electronic diary

Towards the Glyphs

The Personal Interface

The Somasphere

The future






We are, as we all know, situated in a transitory historic phase, where conventional and habitual everyday life forms are undergoing spreading and accelerating transformations.

 In force of global waves of demanding and complicated technological and institutional innovations, citizens all over the globe are finding themselves in new uncharted situations and life conditions, for which no adequate precedence exists,

Citizens increasingly find themselves in situations for which conventional tools and problem-solutions are obsolete, and where relevant tools are difficult to recognize and evaluate, pay for, learn and apply, - not to speak of: difficult to integrate with each other and with the sedimented ground of familiar solutions to everyday problems

It is a safe assumption about the future of ICT that more and more citizens will be ever exposed to new demands – and new options - from technological innovations.

Granted such inevitable exposure it is logical to look for ways to ”empower citizens in their relationship to technology –and through this hope to increase the quality of their lives”



My approach to ”a human-centred point of view” (in contrast to a technology-, product- or business-centric) builds primarily upon theoretical foundations in the psychology of personal constructs by George Kelly (1), the works on the phenomenological and social structures of the individual life-world and the categories of relevance by Alfred Schutz (2), the theory of the self as a reflexive project by Anthony Giddens (3) the theory of reflexive learning by Philip J. Boxer (4), the notions of “the new diary” by Tristine Rainer (5)  the notions of time-geographical description by Torsten Hägerstrand (6) and clarifications about the domestic ICT by Ian Miles (7) and Roger Silverstone (8)

The further theoretical reasoning behind this approach is further explicated (regrettably only in Danish) in "Principia Domestica" (9)


Fundamental conceptual structures


My point of departure is the Kantian idea of a-priori given possibility-conditions for all experience,

a) A minimum of objectively valid concepts, which have to be based upon the capacity of the subject to distinguish between what is the subject and its state and what is not its self, i.e. a distinction between subjective and objective, which again presupposes a minimum of order & regularity in the world.


b) The central importance of the fact, that the experiences of the subject are integrated by a synthesizing consciousness into a uniting biographical conscious personality


A preliminary minimum of objectively valid concepts concerning the domestic a priori conditions for the situated knowing/knowledge acquisition of the habitating subject must acknowledge homes as open diurnal and annual, climatically variable biological and geographical, biographical and historic, ecological and cultural, economical and technological householding system.

As subjects in homes, integrating and synthesizing our experiences, it thus follows, that our knowing must be organized in diurnal cycles: that our orientation must be diurnally organized.  This means, that it in principal ways must be understood as something, which consecutively builds itself up through initial phases, as we, from awakening from sleep move through series of cognitive and material operation, toward a state of full, day clear consciousness, in the midst of our own arranged operational frames and their embedding of subjectively significant informative objects (sedimented and distributes from more or less intuitive certainty & uncertainty of their probable relevance.)

The real is not the single objects (e.g. tools) or the single experiences (e.g. errors), but the context, within which they are understood. The real is not the objects and events occasioning the experience, but the comprehensively contextualized understanding (or misunderstanding) by the user.

The order and relations of the objects in the home constitute a spatiotemporal relational system, of central importance, as we shall locate the a-priories of relevance for embedded orientation, understanding, reflection and identification in the home.

It applies generally to inhabitated homes, that the relations between their material order (structure) & life processes (systemic state-changes) are dependant upon & consistent of sporadic & periodic exchange & transformation of mass & energy & information between lateral & subordinate & superior systems in the individual(s), between cohabiting individuals, between the inhabitants and the home & between the home and the outer system-world.


Our understanding must acknowledge this multidimensionality of objective and subjective meanings in the constitution of the subject’s life-world and its culturally and socially conditioned processes of self-indication.

The comprehensive coherent connection must be seen as

a)     The assembled personal life- history & life-plan realization and

b)     The personal relations to –and anchorage in – systems of socially constructed meanings.

And we must keep in mind that conscious life, in its progressive nature, by interpreting events and conditions in the light of the world as known up till then, in principle must come to see the world in a new light, becoming another world.


By describing our world, acting in our world, by saying something about our world, we transform our world to something different from before we wrote, before we acted, before we uttered.


Home Oriented Informatics & Telematics


We have all reasons to expect substantial transformation of our experience of technologies allowing information and communication technologies to be used everywhere, all the time and by everybody.

I have extensively charted the area of Home-Oriented Informatics, Telematics &Automation (10). I have there described the polarity of extradomestic space and intradomestic space, and called for a necessary focus on the view from inside, what I term the “oikosphere”.




Figure 1. A cluster of related dimensions in the social construction of Home Oriented Informatics, Telematics & Automaton.


The trends of technological innovation which are converging in the field of Home-Oriented Informatics, Telematics and Automation are linking and merging technical developments within

a)     Broadcast and point-to-point telecommunication

b)     Environmental and physiological analogue and digital input and monitoring

c)     Controllers for feedback regulation of sources and drains and motor-control of physical events.

d)     Multimodal sensory inputs, outputs and storage across the previously separate media- cultures (text, graphics and animation, still- and live image, sound)

e)     Media of individual information mass-storage in the gigabyte class

f)      Hardware and software for information processing and output-generation

The list is not meant to be exhaustive, but it goes to show, that the potential resultant-space, when the immense variety of primary and secondary needs emerging across the life-ages of a household are taken into account, must exceed all imagination.

From outer space to inner space

In the industrialized world, the last 2-4 generations have seen their habitat equipped with ever new technical inventions, - each, in their time, adapted, adopted and integrated in a new everyday life, at the very core of personal human existence: tap-water, cold and hot, water-closet, gas and electricity, stove and sewing machine, vacuum cleaner and electric iron, central heating, telephone and radio, camera, record player, refrigerator, TV, freezer, washing machine, dishwasher, coffee-machine, food-processor, microwave-oven, VCR, CD-player With the advent of answering machines, DVD s, video cameras, home-computers and modems we first experience these as "more of the same". But with cellular telephones & SMS, lap-tops, memory-sticks, powerful domestic multimedia home computers, wireless access, digital cash, digital TV, two-way video telephony, access from homes to two-way traffic in new infrastructures of telecommunication, virtual reality, optical character-recognition, speech-recognition and speech-synthesis and an unexpected range of other technical inventions, previously only conceived in terms of the needs of professionals we are forced to consider the role of the private household in an utterly new light.

With the presence already of a part of this array in the proximal interior architecture of a totally man-made environment, the home is today, for a large number of citizens in the western world and beyond, like a grounded spaceship. As households we are as crews, in continuous intrafamilial and extrafamilial cooperation, communication and navigation in a world of growing complexity and incessant change.
Each home is in this sense a permanent construction-site, a vehicle in orbit, a ferry to shuttle between morning and evening, evening and morning with entertainment on board, and a cultural museum and warehouse.
Each home is a process constituted by ecological embedding, techno-cultural heritage and human agency.
The home-consumer-market has stimulated a global competition to exploit an ever-wider range of technological advances for purposes of profitable marketing [3]. Paradoxically it has been the inventiveness of research in outer space, with its focus on miniaturization, which has released the ultimate flood of consumer electronics now trespassing all national and cultural barriers.
For the home-vessels, being grounded as they are, in place of navigable geographical and extraterrestrial space a navigable cyberspace is expanding.
But peculiarly enough the target for all this inventiveness, the internal spaces of the home, and the mental spaces of the crew, is not yet being considered for over-all usability and navigability through weeks, months and years of human co-existence by those, who develop the products. In fact one can say, that we lack a valid paradigm for "the domestic bridge", and its tools for reconnaissance in the travel of life.


What is so special about Home Informatics?

Even when application-context is crucial, as in the construction of cars, airplanes, space-ship-interiors, such applications can be developed through iterated prototype testing with a small number of professional users in one or a few sites.
One reason that this can be done with success is, that the work to be performed with the appliances in such cases has a semi-public character, and therefore can be monitored without significantly disturbing its inner coherency and authenticity. Another is that the user can be conceived as relatively impersonal: "anybody, with relevant formal qualifications", who should find the application useful, user-friendly etc.
But these conditions do not apply to the private sphere.
Homes, households and life forms are extremely different. The subjects, the selves, the needs, ends and endeavours, ongoings, states and events of the household members are unaccountably varied and cannot be subsumed under a unifying goal-structure, as can presumably those of a formal organization, be it a commercial or a public enterprise. Already this puts the problems of technological innovation for the home-sphere in a class of its own.
But this class of problems is even more unique.
The most basic private growth- and life-conditions and the sustaining cultural life forms of the basic cells in the societal tissue (the private households) have already been deeply affected and transformed in lasting ways by the introduction of technologies. For urban citizens in western countries the only reality we can be grounded in is one where a major part of these gadgets and their use is taken for granted and woven into a major part of our endeavours. Most of the technologies here involved are well described and analyzed under separate headings, in this and other technically or policy-oriented publications. This also applies to many aspects of the evidently relevant questions of man-machine interfacing and interaction. But, whereas applications for use in other settings than the private homes can most often be adequately developed and studied in isolation, relative to demand-specifications related to specific, goal-rational ends to be met by users in their professional work, this does not hold true for the domestic applications.
Especially the new generations have, by adopting the commercial TV and the cellular phone (including camera, SMS etc), and now even broadband Internet access, as significant and time-demanding elements in everyday life, been brought into a peculiar placelessness, and an exposed, receiving relationship to external fiction, report and persuasion.
We assimilate and adapt through tapping and zapping, continuously reorienting and updating, finding ourselves in a global flow of commercials and contemporary and historical knowledge and fiction, heavily decentred outside the home. Thus our senses are extended to reach from the home all around the globe and beyond, and we are daily witnesses to events and narratives in an inexhaustible wealth of natural and artificial realities in the multiversity of the mass media.
Psychologically and sociologically all these many devices and their operation are part of a modernity, which few of us would prefer to be without. They are used as tools for sustaining social relations, entertainment, knowledge-acquisition, orientation, identification and the routines of the general everyday survival and recreation.

The future 'electronic habitat' and "the information highway"

No wonder, therefore, that notions of the future "electronic habitat" are cultivated and that model homes-of-the future are built.
Frame-programs and consortia are established to develop standards for "Home-Information-Networks", which may eventually tie together the interests of the producers of white-goods, consumer electronics, telecommunication and entertainment.
No wonder that huge investments are put into ensuring more widespread general access to information-highways and development of home-oriented information services. And no wonder that these attempts fall far short of developing an imagery of a future home, with which the private citizens can positively identify themselves.
The effects of the invasion of technology into the home in terms of immediate physical comfort, saving of manual labour, ease of communicative reach and wealth of entertainment is indisputable. On the other hand its effects in terms of information overload, external manipulation, rupture of sociocultural patterns and extreme individualisation are equally apparent.
Evidently a coherent picture of the whole mess is difficult to frame and present. "Home Oriented Informatics, Telematics & Automation"(HOITA) as a cross-disciplinary, international field of research has hardly come of age. And the rate of innovation is so fast, that thorough empirical studies of the appropriation of these technologies are more or less outdated before they reach the press.

Anticipating the expectable
To convey a coherent and sufficiently contextualised understanding of the relevant dimensions of this field I have found it necessary in my publications (11) to make a few conceptual extrapolations into the near future, In so doing I have introduce 3 concepts: the virtual home, the virtual body, and the virtual neighbourhood , - as logical and necessary constructs for grounding a coherent notion of the demands to future domestic information technology.

I shall not go into a detailed discussion of these matters, as their unfolding as relevant for ordinary users are still beyond reach

But they are thematically relevant, because they can point us to the notion of a fully and coherently contextualized interface, coming to making it possible to refer and annotate to any location/area within ones home and any location/area on or inside ones body.

The Oikosphere and the Somasphere

From a psychological viewpoint it is crucial, that by ensuring for the members of a household a permanent reference to the solid ground-level of their own particular domestic and bodily timegeography as a generic, archetypal virtuality, a personal grounded and rooted stem of self-reference can be grown, that could be made to function as a convenient core and anchor point of further personal orientation and reality-testing.

It implies the emergence of a new, coherent potential of demonstrative identifying reference to re-identifiable individual things and event-types in the private life-world, according to their personal relevance. This potential may provide us new means of self-reflection, evaluation and ordination of actual and possible identifiable and indexicable operations, states, informative objects and persons.

Such a concept can be cultivated for a variety of purposes. The above-mentioned potentials of biotelemetry brings it so to speak "under our skin", and highlights the potential intimate, bodily closeness of this "personal level". Configuring body-state-representational tools for personal state-reflection or expressive messaging is a little-noticed potential, mainly cultivated in circles working with the concept of biofeedback. But seen as the personalised foundation and key to a sane health-education, such tools of self-knowledge may reveal a strong prophylactic potential, and thus be worth adding to the domestic tool kit.

Development of a preliminary prototype

As a psychologist I have explored the emerging representational tools within an experimental home through the period 1976 to 1997.

From this background I will introduce, into the developmental agenda forward from this conference, the kind of basis the domestic scene and the personal body must constitute, and the kind of reflexive tool, towards the chronotopological documentation of proximal events, which I think must have a high priority.

I present a methodological innovation for users to investigate themselves as strategic and tactical innovators. An empowering innovation, which we should wish for prospective citizens to posses- and for the further development of which I want to invite a cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary collaboration.


The tools we have developed are tools of citizen science, enabling users themselves to pursue a sedimenting empirical logging of whatever they find relevant, around the clock, around the week, the month and the year.  It is a diary-tool while also being a log-book-tool.


We are so used to conceive of “the researcher” as an external observer, interviewer, questionnaire-designer and statistician. But the time has come to admit, that the only investigator qualified to examine the personal information-flow and the user as strategic and tactic innovator is the user her- or himself


We offer, with this method, a basic instrument with which users, for themselves, can keep track of the personal ongoings and events, not only on the computer, but throughout the everyday life, in an ongoing diary


Background history

I developed at University of Copenhagen, Institute of Psychology an experimental home (1972-1997) where I explored ways to help inhabitants represent their domestic everyday life & communication processes for themselves.

This involved new options for monitoring bodily states, representing domestic space and the time geography of domestic events.


Since the introduction of laptops and interactive programming I focused on the concept of electronic diary, where time indexing of text-entries could be automated.

I have daily since 1997– myself – been the main experimental subject, through generations of laptops and software-programs, and been entangled in all possible ruses and ignorance’s, shortcomings and frustrations, meanwhile always trying to put my self into the seat of future users, - a kind of general empathy-state based on a still updated stock of European senior knowledge.


As systems and software tools were optimized I have strived to clarify how the substantial offer of interactivity from the computer can best be brought to use in a tool like the one I had in mind.

A tool which in fact is no more than a further development of the traditions of logging in ships, of journaling in work-protocols for the drawers and shelves of operating rooms, and of personal diaries, in handwritten volumes.


Advantages of an electronic diary


I think it is important, that we enable ourselves to hold on to our personal existence, whom we were, whom we are, whom we shall become, and how we are using the shorter or longer lifespan given us. Enable us, as regards matters of personal relevance, to hold on to this, in order to be enabled to reflect upon it. And thereby perhaps getting a somewhat better hold of this life and perhaps develop it in desirable directions.

The new conditions we all are submitted to pose new demands, create new routines and tear us loose from the life anchors in traditions, and the clear-cut roles, previously furnished to the individual.

Young or old, rich or poor, ethnic insider or ethnic outsider, educated or uneducated, employed or unemployed: we are all forced day after day to re-orient ourselves in relation to some of the old, and in relation to all the new, ever coming our way.


It is my conviction that it is of paramount importance that the single citizen in the broadband society, in the midst of and across the information bombardments from mass media, and the increasing involvement with the broadband society, gets equipped with a kind of ”tool of self documentation”, so that we can hold on to at least a bit of, what happens to us, what we think about it, and what is practical for us to keep track of: pin codes, passwords, usernames and –numbers, service providers, tariffs, subscriptions, accounts, internet-addresses, e-mail addresses, telephone numbers, birthdays,  But also which dreams we have, in all senses of the word, and the frustrations and disappointments we meet.


There will be as many ways to keep electronic diary, as there will be individuals that will do it, and with different advantages

It is evident that nobody could nor should use time to describe everything they do, are exposed to, think and feel each and every day. This must depend upon richness or shortness of time and subjective relevancies. Some may centre upon cooking, gardening, books, news, the Internet - or worries, symptoms, cures. Maybe keeping track of the cigarettes, cigars and pipes smoked where and when, how may holes achieved on the golf course, about the arguments one has, meetings, transportation-problems. or lawsuits against telecompanies, hitting back on the half hidden and disguised  exploitations (and seductions) of newcomers difficult to document,(as for example the economic and timing conditions for adapting a g3mobile telephone to use for e-mail and internet access)


I think with Tristine Rainer (5) that the most important aspect of keeping a diary is the establishment of an area/arena/platform – a breathing-hole of absolute freedom and autonomy, where one can permit oneself to be honest, where one can make room for all of ones ideas, feelings, secret thoughts and fantasies, grieves and worries, separated from or contextually anchored in the more trivial, but perhaps quite as meaningful banal occupations and rituals filling ones life.

Some keeping track of what others do for you, and track of own reactions to others may help you deal with more maturely with others.

And accounting, narrating to oneself in writing may often help to clear the thinking, clarify the thoughts.

And the diary can be used to document reactions, one receive from firms and authorities and reactions one receives from hardware and software IT-tools and paid-for services, as well as media-contents and event of personal subjective relevance.

In this way, being equipped with adequate tool, the citizen is empowered for critical action on documentable observations from a consumer vantage point.


But also: If you have habits, which you hope to control: alcohol, tobacco, drugs, medicine, exercise, eating, you can journal the patterns and circumstances of your focussed bad habit, in respect to advances, temptations, relapses and replacement for undesirable fix.


Think of someone devoting 10 minutes of thought-loudspeaking via the keyboard to the day’s first cigarette. Or the day’s last cigarette.


But not least for persons, hit by illnesses like Sclerosis, Diabetes Alzheimer and/or submitted to stressful treatments, e.g. for cancer, or fighting handicaps there should be a support in a purely personal keeping track of the progress of the battle, both at an outer and an inner level.


Writing a diary, journal or logbook by handwriting, has advantages, for which the present model of electronic diary cannot compensate. The expressivity in sizing and varying the handwriting, ornamentation, mixing written and drawn, dried flowers newspaper-cutting glued in, etc, is lost.

But the advantages of the electronic diary compensates- especially as more and more of the information, which reaches us, and which we can reach for, arrive to the computer in digital form.

A most central aspect is the automatic time-indexing, organizing all inputs relative to the progression of the diurnal, weekly, seasons and years of personal life.

Two special, related functions have been developed, One enabling the user to ”write into” specified temporal addresses, earlier in the day, so it gets into the correct slot in the chronology of the day. And another, making it possible to annotate to lines earlier same day, or any of previous days of current diary, keeping track of when annotation was made. 

By letting the user create shortcuts, around the diary, to whatever programs or services they utilize and facilitating the users name giving and access to presently 40 thematic drawers, to calendar and contact library, integrated in the diary, we are providing the user a private scene, relative to which the events and phenomena in their home, their garden, their neighbourhood and their workplace can be contextualized and represented.


The advantage of the computer is that it is so simple to copy words, names, paragraphs of what one writes, into the weekday slot of the calendar, and not least: into any of pt. 40 hidden user labelled thematic memo-fields for themes of personal relevance.  E.g. One for each of ones children and grandchildren, parents, best friends, theatre, movies, acquisitions, subscriptions, books, music, chat-groups, sermons, medications, prayers, treatments   


I have tried to develop at set of demands, to the types of information, which shall be equally easy to self-document.

 I think this is important for an understanding of the full scope of the enterprise







We should collaborate to offer a toolbox for citizens of any culture and age, helping them to keep coherent, contextualized track of (alphabetically ordered)






Towards the Glyphs

Already back in the 80s, working with the experimental apartment, I found, that a way to overview and understand the processes and events in a family-home was to use small pictures, fit to represent what took place when and where for the individual inhabitant(s)

There are so many typical generally recognizable phenomena in everyday bodily life in our home, in the daily and weekly life, including the well-known bodily functions and household functions

I started already in the 80’ies in collaboration with students to construct a system of pictograms for this descriptive purpose. And then the technological development suddenly offered a new opportunity:

I found a shortcut to the pictorial shorthand needed by avoiding the icon-format, and instead using the character-format, i.e. designing glyphs in a font-suite.

The idea of using glyphs to support the verbal journaling and reflection of personal phenomena may sound like an attempt to square the circle. But understanding such glyphs not as objective classifications but as private signs of contextualized subjective phenomena I think may point to a future of shared/folk-taxonomy alphabets for the more or less global typicality’s of phenomenal event in habitats and in bodies.


The glyphs developed amounts presently only to app. 450, and many are lousy and inadequate, - a series of them are not available in windows version etc.

But there are presently 12 root-stems,


For some, the use of such glyphs in their diary may be uninviting. For others – especially individuals with limited reading writing capacities, lacking language-skills or anybody in situations where motive for journaling is strong, but time or energy is short, - they may provide convenient provisional shorthand.




























Fig.2 Glyphs distributed in 12 fonts


I am certainly not proud to present this preliminary suite of glyphs, with all its weaknesses and shortcomings. In the menus, from which they can be chosen, an explanatory label is attached to each, and the ones installed by the user keeps their label as a tool-tip” The glyphs with labels can be closer inspected in www.phenomenalog.dk/glyphs.htm


The Personal Interface

My method has been to develop an investigative tool, which at a minimum could satisfy the needs I met, in daily use on my personal laptop(s) day in and day out, during all seasons of the year, over a period of 10+ years.












Fig.3 The immediate presentation of an interface to new users, version 16.5.2

(Colours have had to be removed in all illustrations for this publication) 





















Fig.4 The full range of possible fields and functions










But to give an impression of one users making full use of the potentials presently accessible I include this snapshot from my latest, personal and private journal.



Fig.5. “Inhabitated” diary


But I must stress, that this is not meant as exemplary. It is an exhibition of the private mess of one single individual.


The Somasphere


One dimension of users life, which we will have to include, is the health dimension.

Enabling the users to keep track of bodily states and symptoms, will most certainly be the call of the immediate future.


The thinking about social processes, around the human body, includes ranges of social workers, doctors, nurses, secretaries, telephone, SMS, patient groups, treatmentcenters etc etc.

And the thinking about technological process, around the human body, includes ranges of diagnostic, maintenance, treatment technologies, prescription and journalizing databases.

But the convergence of all these social and technological processes around the human body has an internal double nucleus: The personal body and the personal home, what we term: The Somasphere and The Oikosphere.

Whatever measures we take in health and medical care, social and technological, the moment we think of just one citizen we must understand, that a convergence of social and technological processes around the body already exists inside the information dynamics of the home.


We must build a counterpoint to the systems notion of a patient or client: a view from below, a view from the vantage point of the person-number, a view from the target of the healthcare. The consumer, the citizens own local and temporal viewpoint, as conscious phenomena in continued cognitive processes.



Among the assumption about the future going into this developmental agenda is


1. That the cores of homes and bodies will be massive informational nuclei, relative to  whatever structures the broadband space will offer

2.That the (time-indexicable) representational options concerning these nuclei with digital text, graphics and audio & video and more to come, inevitably will bloom, as witness with mobile technology, digital video-recorders, mobile monitoring etc.


The Vision of the future, in which Phenomenalog should fit best, is a global One-Laptop-Per-Child (12) -> / One-Laptop-Per-Citizen society with free opensource softwares (GNU etc), and wireless peergroup and neighbourhood networking, embedded in an open Wikipedia 3rd milennium Babel.


With the global spread of personal computers we must re-invent the diary .We must equip the private individual (be it in a home, a hospital, a prison or a wheelchair) with adequate freeware tools for coherent self-documentation.

Citizens in the growing complexities and dependencies of information society need such powers, as “Citizen Scientists”, for reflexive self-documentation of activities, events and states, thoughts and feelings in their everyday life.

The endeavour of providing such means for individuals’ autonomous self-accountability shall be directed to empower them as citizens to consolidate identity and creatively master the complexities, options and stresses of everyday life in an unpredictable IT-society. Politically:  enable their empirically validated critical feedback to public services, commercial and social software and their contributing to social-shaping technologies


I hope this paper, the preliminary freeware prototype and the preliminary sample of glyphs (all available from www.phenomenalog.dk)  are sufficient to rouse the interest of at least a small number of researchers to participate in further (personal) testing and strategic planning concerning desirable functional and interface improvements, translating prototypes into many languages & implementation of the user-based processes of working up a truely cross-cultural glyph-library


Insisting on the essential freeware character of the project has precluded commercial funding.

Thousands of hours of unpaid programming has been contributed by a friend.

 Is it possible - though this conference - to gain a basic recognition/recommendation of the endeavour sufficient to justify a modest COST financing for further programming and translations?



I have stated the reasons for and detailed the demands to an open source toolbox for individual journaling:

Integration of automatically time-indexed inputs of text, symbol characters and other inputs with calendar, address-book & maps of body, home & neighbourhood,

Quoteability to ranges of user-labelled accumulating memos,

Options for searching, parsing, annotating,

Facility for creating shortcuts to documents and other programs

Provisional core of glyph characters anchored in general human processes of household, body care and childcare

The tool shall be conceived as cross-platform and fit to pass across barriers between civilisations, ever improvable and modifiable: A partly user-designable vehicle for practical, existential and healthcare support for the individual. Potentially running continuously on any laptop, on & off with a click.

It shall also be constructed with a view to future facilities of wireless input from physiological sensors, gadgets like lighters (for smoking-pattern awareness), SMS, camera-snapshots, voice-messages and eventually speech recognition.





(1) Kelly, George A.(1955) The psychology of personal constructs, NortonN.Y.

(2) Schutz, Alfred (1974): The Structures of the Life-WorId, Heinemann, London

(3) Giddens, Anthony (1991) Modernity and SeIf-Identity., Blackwell, Oxford

(4) Boxer, Philip J. (1980) Supporting reflexive learning, - toward a reflexive theory of form in: Bonarius, H, Holland R. & Rosenberg S. (Eds.) Personal Construct Psychology

(5) Rainer, Tristine (1979, 2004) The New Diary. How to Use a Journal for Self-guidance and Expanded Creativity. Tarcher Publ.

(6) Hägerstrand,Torsten (1974) Tidsgeografisk Beskrivning- syfte och postulat. Svensk Geografisk Årbog vol. 50, Lund

(7) Miles, Ian (1988) Home Informatics: Information Technology and the Transformation of Everyday Life. Pinter Publ., London

(8) Silverstone, Roger et al (eds) (1992) Consuming Technologies: Media and Information in Domestic Spaces.  Routledge, London

(9) Bjerg, K.: Principia Domestica www.psy.ku.dk/bjerg/opus/principiaindex.htm

(10) Bjerg, K. (1996) Home-Oriented Informatics, Telematics & Automation in: Encyclopedia of Computer Science and Technology, Marcel Dekker, Pittsburg Penn.

(11) Bjerg, K (2000) Towards the Virtual Home: Construing the Multimedia-home to enhance Cultural and Biographical Continuity in Bloch Rasmussen L., Beardon C. Munari S. (eds) Computers and Networks in the Age of Globalization, Kluwer Academic Publishers

(12) Negroponte, Nicholas et al: www.laptop.org