Personal Electronic Journaling


Strand: COST294-MAUSE


Keywords: Info-overload, Self-management, Electronic diary, Health-care, Cognitive Stress, Cognitive skills, Documentary power. Accountability, Democracy-export, Biotelemetry, Phenomenology, Pictograms, Glyphs, Creativity


Research Question:

How can we best empower the individual citizen in the information society to establish a contextualized self-embedding documentation of personally relevant events and phenomena around the clock or in selected periods?


Theoretical framework

The theoretical framework has been spelled out in detail in ( ) where the author outlined a series of assumptions about the future of ICT in the global broadband society and presented the theoretical reasoning behind a conceptual model, posing the notions of the “oikosphere” ( from greek Oikos=Home), the “somasphere” (from Greek: Soma=Body),and the “Iconosphere” “ (from Greek: Icon=Image and noos:knowledge.), as basis for the formation of  free and adequate reflexive citizen tools, indispensable as necessary basis for any farsighted user oriented developmental agenda.


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 sedimenting ground of familiar solutions to everyday problems

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.

I advocate a new order of information-democratic Citizen science:  the development and free offer of adequate tools, fitting the needs of the citizen’s informed daily accountability and everyday relevance

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


Everyone can profit from personal electronic journaling, because it can enable cognitive skills, personal reflection and self-knowledge, help a deficient memory and provide a kind of documentary power in relation to information processes, people, authorities and machineries in the broadband society.

It can be of pragmatic use for people with special problems: clients and patients in counselling and coaching, psychotherapy and psychiatry, people with severe physical or mental handicaps, Alzheimer, Autism, Asperger, Ludomania, Drug abuse, Alcoholism, Smoking, Weight watching and for journaling symptoms and treatments in somatic illnesses.

Other kinds of advantage can be drawn by students of psychology and by people in creative endeavours, where it can help to catch, retrieve and organize ideas around the clock.


Research method:


A prototype software tool for keeping a laptop diary is and has been under development and daily testing by a senior researcher in psychology for 14 years, and the various needs encountered have – little by little – led to add and improve numerous features, not least options for user to alter and redesign the interface,

Automation of time-indexing, features of searching and parsing, integration with calendar and address book, options for quoting to and from the diary and options for assembling notes in a large number of separate hidden thematic fields are basic.

A substantial innovative feature is, that it provides user the option to supplement text-entries with entries of pictograms (Glyphs) for recurrent typicality’s of situations, actions and events in everyday life, as a kind of shorthand, and that user can personally select which of the (yet only 450) glyphs he finds it worthwhile to use screen space for.

Another innovative feature is that it automatically - for each day - accumulates a row in a table of data from daily counts of use of selected glyphs (e.g. medicine, alcohol, cigarette,) and from typed physiological data (e.g. blood pressure, weight, temperature etc.)

The last new feature is the option for user to create links (on single days- or permanently) to any file, folder or program/application. Use of such links is automatically indicated in the diary.

The method is ever yielding new demands to its improvement.

*Common Typicality’s, for which glyphs are missing, and should be included

*Installers for all three platforms

*Option to view the accumulated data-table as differently coloured curves in weekly, monthly and annual perspectives

*Prototyping a cigarette lighter, for wireless triggering of time indexed input of numbered cigaretglyphs-

*Adaptation of the address-book to report and enable Skype calls directly from telephone numbers- and email by clicking e-mail address

*Inclusion of browser functionality enabling to accumulate and organize Internet bookmarks in 2, 2 ½ and 3D cognitive maps



Expected Outcomes

It is the hope of the author, that the preliminary prototype – being open source, freeware and in versions for both Windows, Mac and Linux, - will be seen as a resource- or at least an inspiration -, from which collaborative enterprises can be formed

The health-system is one target.

The consumer-protection system is another target.

The exporting-democracy initiatives is a third.

Further developments, translation to other languages and continued enrichment and  improvements of the glyph-fonts are expected through collective networking in many directions, adapting it to various cultures and target-groups, not least those concerned with self-care and physiological telemonitoring.