Tracking and Sharing Moods With My Wife (Part I)

19 Sep

Inspired by others’ experiences reported in my last post, my wife and I want to try tracking and sharing our moods for a while. I’ve now spent spent several hours searching and evaluating the many different apps out there. Surprisingly, I haven’t found anything that will do it.

Here were the features I was looking for, and where various otherwise promising apps seemed to fall flat:

  • Very simple to record a mood, with optional text note, on iPhones. MoodScope, for example, has no iPhone app, and while the card metaphor for recording a score on each of several dimensions makes for a beautiful interface, it takes a long time to record a mood.
  • Ability to share with my wife, any only my wife, the updates I post. The simplest way, I think, would be to post them to Facebook, and then configure Facebook privacy settings to only share posts from that app with her. The only app I found that came close to offering this was MoodPanda, but in order to share with anyone on Facebook, I had to shared with everyone on MoodPanda. One app, from Track & Share, let’s you email a CSV of your data to anyone. Most apps had no export at all. I was surprised not to find “share with buddies” or at least “share with caregiver” or “share with lifecoach” as a common feature. If anyone works for any of the companies that have developed these apps, I’m curious whether this is just a low priority feature, or whether it was a deliberate design decision.
  • Alerts at random times to prompt input (like in Experience Sampling.) One app, GottaFeeling, sends four random reminders per day, but the number and time weren’t configurable, and it didn’t meet my other needs above. The Harvard University research project, Track Your Happiness, uses experience sampling (it sends you text messages or emails at random times) but doesn’t seem to have the sharing facility.

So, at least for now, here’s our plan:

  • We set up two new twitter accounts that are not publicly followable and that follow each other.
  • We agree on a very simple micro-format: each tweet begins with a number from 1-10, and then a space, and then any text or pics or links we want.
  • I’ll write a program that harvests the data and puts it into nice graphs for us occasionally.
  • I’m not sure what I’ll do about the alerts at random times. I couldn’t find an iPhone app that does that. If I had a Mac and wanted to learn iPhone programming, I suppose it would be a simple task to create one, but I don’t think I’m going there. Perhaps write a program that sends SMS messages at random times? Looks like there are cloud services that will send out SMS messages for you at a very low price (e.g., Twilio).
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4 Responses to “Tracking and Sharing Moods With My Wife (Part I)”

  1. Frank (@frankc) September 20, 2011 at 3:01 pm #

    Hey Paul. I did a few experiments with sharing a few months ago. I wanted to create conversations between closely connected groups and happened along a few tools that may be useful for you…

    GroupFlier lets you schedule messages to you or your wife in a group texting client and may be the quickest hack for a microformatted mood rating. However, this does not support MMS or randomly timed messages.
    Group.me is a group texting client you can use to send images back and forth using their service. As a separate affordance you can log-in online to export data for analysis and presentations.

    The methodology I used to share smiles is here: http://slidesha.re/mRSWpd (though I did not use groupflier in my experiment).

    I am a fan of your work! Hope this helps.

    – Frank

  2. Paul Resnick September 21, 2011 at 8:55 am #

    Thanks for the suggestions. GroupMe sounds promising, but I signed up and don’t see how to export the data for a group. Is there something I’m missing?

    Have you written up your smile sharing experiment? Or could I interview you about it? I can’t completely follow the project’s progression and lessons from just the slides.

  3. David January 3, 2012 at 10:00 pm #

    I found these resources very useful, thanks. Did you end up implementing your custom solution? If not, what did you do? I’d be interested in learning more.

    Thanks.

    – David

  4. Paul Resnick January 4, 2012 at 9:09 am #

    Yes, I should post an update, and a pointer to the code repository. I’ll try to get to it in the next few weeks. I’m back to teaching, so time is tight.

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