From Personal Data to Personable Visualizations

Explore how by constructing visualizations of their personal data people can create an intimate relationship with their data. This exploration is deeply human-centred. It involves conducting several long-term studies with a group of people already collecting some kind of personal data (e.g., energy bills, bank accounts, fitness, time tracker, medical condition), human-centred iterative approaches to design and qualitative evaluations such as interviews, focus groups, and observations. The space of personal data visualization is ripe for research work, particularly in a dynamic context (with e.g., daily or weekly data updates) as the singularities of this context, such as the relationship that people have with their own personal data, are yet to be explored. This project will particularly look into the role of physical engagement when constructing physical visualizations in order to uncover how cognitive and kinesthetic efforts can enhance learning, memorability, enjoyment, and overall visualization literacy.


  • Review the literature in physical visualization, personal visualization, and narrative visualizations; as well as in kinesthetic learning, learning-by-doing, and visualization literacy.

  • Iteratively design (possibly computer-supported) prototypes with people collecting personal data and willing to make better sense of it by themselves.

  • Study through qualitative methods what makes visualizations of personal data personable to people.


  • Visualization / statistical graphics design

  • Human-centred design

  • Hands-on activities, fabrication

  • Qualitative methods such as interviews and open coding

  • Design and prototyping (computer-supported or not) skills

  • Map out the space of personable visualizations of personal data.


This topic was suggested by Dr Charles Perin. Please direct further enquiries to the giCentre.