jessica charlesworth

THE MICROTREND DIARY – INTRO

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What if you could create a self-reflective diary that made use of our everyday thoughts to provoke us in such a way that you were able to change your future actions?

Inspired by the notion of self fullfiling prophecy and the theory of optimisitic autosuggestions by the philosopherÉmile Coué, The Microtrend Diary is a way of recording and quantifying your daily actions to prompt new behaviour. Using a diary or journal format the owner makes a daily record of their activities and is asked a set of questions. The process of completing the journal each day reveals potential new behavioural decisions. (Did you tell someone you loved them this week? If so who?)

This personalised diary is printed-to-order based on a set of preliminary personality questions. As the owner makes a daily record of their actions, a unique set of provocative aide memoirs are revealed under a perforated flap that suggest changing your behaviour in certain ways for the following day.

Other pages in the diary include the hourly ‘happiness’ chart, ‘what will this day be?’ join the dots exercise, ‘crowdsourcing you future’ postcards to send to friends and a weekly ‘hopes & fears for the future’ scatter graph. After each week the diary owner is asked to plot their hopes and fear for the coming week and after each month these thoughts are plotted against a time series analysis graph identifying historical trends and pointers for the future. The self-fulfilling prophecy diary is printed weekly and each week is stored in it’s own dedicated monthly box.


Originally presented during the AlterFutures meetup in September 2009.

The Microtrend Diary is kept in its own monthly slipcase

Daily tasks revealed inside The Microtrend Diary

A perforated seal is torn open to reveal the daily self-fulfilling prophecy questions.

My Happiness Scale

The idea of quantifying the unquantifiable; the fluid thoughts and emotions of our everyday lives has in recent times become more and more popular as algorithms in social media focused applications have enabled us all to  invest and share data and act as conceptual self-knowledge mirrors. Originally used in organizational management, social media has enabled a more personal approach to help evaluate ourselves. Indeed the rise in self-help and self-knowledge have become a huge business and created opportunities for organisations and individuals to offer more and more self-reflective tools that allow them to record, quantify, reflect and evaluate on their everyday lives; their thoughts, feelings, mental and physical health.

My original fascination came when I stumbled across Jonathan Harris & Sep Kamvar’s “We Feel Fine” project: An algorithm that collects around 20,000 feelings per day as expressed by the blogging community and splices up the feelings according to demographic information about the author of each feeling (age, gender, geographical location, and local weather conditions). It then presents these findings in a series of playful interfaces, each of which paints a different picture of human emotion.  Other applications/products/questionnaires have crunched this kind of qualitative, touchy feely soft data to allow you to see how good you are in bed, a rolling history of your sex life, your daily mundane activities calculated into graphical visualizations, psychological phenomena translated into quantifiable scales or your daily tweeted interests simply autoplotted into a diary format. The artist and designer Lucy Kimbell has also been investigating the evaluation cultures in management, technology and the arts; her performance/service: Free Evaluation Service is one example. And more recently Gary Wolf and Kevin Kelly set up the Quantified Self program to enable self-quantifiers to meet and compare and analyse their own methods and processes of evaluation.


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  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jim Meredith, Jim Meredith. Jim Meredith said: THE MICROTREND DIARY –The idea of quantifying the unquantifiable; the fluid thoughts and emotions of our everyday lives http://bit.ly/9RCQ9h […]

  3. […] Speculative Design & Personal Futures  A 6 minute presentation discussing the development of my practice as a speculative designer. Beginning with a snapshot outside Jessica Palm Reader’s house in Georgetown, Washington DC, a quote from Tony Dunne’s introduction to this years Design Interactions graduates, a 20 second explanation of the job of a futurist and an exemplary use of Back to the Futures diagram to explain alternative futures. I discussed various projects relating to ways design is used to speculate about alternative futures by employing techniques including what-if scenarios, thought experiments and retrofuture narratives. Examples projects included Tackling Obesities for Foresight UK thinktank, the Citizen Evolution exhibition at the MAKVienna and ending with a sneak preview to the FOSKBoutique personal futures concept store and related tools The Delphi Party and The Microtend Diary. […]

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