Today’s meeting began with a brief discussion about how to go about filling out the progress report. I learned that I would need to provide a more detailed account of targets for research and skills and competency development than I had done. These should be more directly related to the objectives for passing probation ie. defining the research question, designing and executing empirical study, gaining ethical clearance, building bibliography of literature for lit review.

Following this, we moved onto a discussion about the literature I had been reading. I have drawn up a mind map which shows the relationships between research in the technologies mental health and wellbeing field. We discussed what this mind map shows and where the opportunities for new research might lie. The most prominent topics were:

  • Latency/ immediacy of self-reporting/ feedback. In the literature, self-reporting mood is seen as something which can provide a rich account of how a person feels because they pinpoint an exact mood, but only intermittently. (See mind maps below) Biometrics provide a less rich account of mood but does so continually throughout the day. We discussed if there is a way to combine these data sets to provide a more comprehensive account of mood. We also discussed how self-monitored mood might become more of a peripheral action. So it doesn’t require the individuals full attention and they can continually monitor their mood. There seems to be a trade-off though between how much information can be captured and how much effort/ attention is required to register it. Janet mentioned a paper called Squeeze the Moment, where a person squeezes a ball in the moment to register that they want to add something to their diary and then they received a reminder on their phone about where they were at the time when they squeezed so they can actually write the diary entry later in the day.
  • Ritual and routine. Another thing we discussed was the use of the body in the act of self-reporting mood. We highlighted that this might be an interesting area for research exploration. With the sprite catcher the act of capturing a memory includes an element of routine, or perhaps ritual. The user must engage with their body and their environment to capture a memory.
  • Difference between mindfulness and flow. This second discussion point brought us through to a conversation about the meaning of mindfulness and flow. Both of these are associated with a sense of pleasure and contentment brought on by a sense of awareness. Marian and myself reached an agreement that there is a subtle difference between them though. For while flow is complete attention with a single task or experience, mindfulness is a broader sense of awareness – a stream of consciousness that pervades general life rather than a single activity. Flow may well be quite damaging to general wellbeing because the activity that has induced a sense of flow itself can be difficult to withdraw from. When a person reaches a sense of flow they become unaware of their body and events around them. Mindfulness is more about becoming more acutely aware of these things – clearing the mind of thoughts and understanding the relationship between the body, the mind and the environment.

One of the other things we covered was ethics clearance. Janet suggested that I should draft up an ethics form and write it in such a way that it can cover a range of different studies.

We also discussed who the target user group would be for the project. We don’t really want to focus on acute mental health problems. Bipolar was mentioned as a problem which is almost too severe. I suggested that bipolar is a spectrum and that there are people whon are not necessarily diagnosed as bipolar who have issues with unstable mood. These could be a part of the target user group.

I will speak with Blaine about the project he has been wanting to launhch with women who suffer from depression following cancer.

One last thing to note – I said that I will start reading more psychology literature and exploring learning resources myself.

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