Personal Informatics Survey for Ian Li’s PhD

Ian Li, a PhD student studying personal informatics at Carnegie Mellon University, wrote in to ask some questions for his research project. Here is his story, with a link to the survey he created:


Like most people who read The Quantified Self, I have
tracked various aspects of my life. I ianli.jpghave logged my gas
mileage, kept my bank statements, wrote down how much I worked and slept, and many more, planning some day to sit down and graph the data to better understand my own behavior.

When I entered the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, I started studying how computers can help people understand their own selves. For the first few years, I did some projects related to personal informatics (, but focused primarily on physical activity, creating a system that monitors and graphs when, where, and with whom people take the most steps.

Currently, I am looking beyond physical activity to understand general challenges with personal informatics: What information are people interested in recording about their lives? What problems are they experiencing in monitoring their behavior? How can exploring one’s data be improved?

I created a survey ( to start this exploration. If you have questions or comments about the survey, email me at Thanks for participating!

Ian Li

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