[ 18] Health-related
social networks include:
curetogether.com, dai-lystrength.org, ehealth-forum.com, healthchap-ter.com, imedex.com,
inspire.com, mdjunc-tion.com, medhelp.org,
[ 19] Social net works
with a health component include: experien-ceproject.com, people-jam.com, nikeplus.com.
[ 20] Wolf, G. “Know
Thyself: Tracking Every
Facet of Life, from
Sleep to Mood to Pain,
24/7/365,” Wired, 17.07
[ 21] Shadforth, I.
Data that individuals collect will establish a
baseline for comparing future measurements.
Identifying personal norms is important, espe-
cially when we’re not average. For some, a tem-
perature of 98.6 may indicate a fever, especially
as normal body temperature decreases with
age. Collecting data will also enable individuals
to compare themselves to others—to the entire
population or to those sharing similar charac-
teristics, such as age, sex, height, weight, condi-
tions, genes, environment, and even behavior.
Ian Shadforth points out that once health data
collecting begins in earnest, we can quickly gen-
erate populationwide norms and norms for many
sub-groups. By collecting data on a range of age
groups simultaneously, we may need just a few
years to generate a picture of what’s “normal”
across a lifetime [ 21].
The growth of online health-based social
networks, bio-medical sensors, personal health
dashboards, and health-focused big data mining
applications will not of themselves or even in
combination force a shift to self-management.
They simply make measurement and tracking a
lot easier. They lower the bio-cost of self-man-
agement. And they make visible—perhaps even
cool—the practice of measurement and tracking.
In this way, technology may set off a process
of bootstrapping, which can lead to the broader
changes we describe.
[ 22] Dubberly, H.
“Design in the Age of
Biology: Shifting from
Ethos to an Organic-Systems Ethos,”
interactions 15, 5, (2008).
May + June 2010
[ 23] Giroux, H.
as the Practice of
Freedom: Paulo Freire
and the Promise of
Truthout January 3,
Parallels with changes in design Practice
Reframing health as self-management parallels
similar trends in education, where we increas-
ingly recognize that students manage (or design)
their own learning, and design practice, where
we increasingly recognize that users manage
(or design) their own experiences. Perhaps these
changes are part of larger trends, the democra-
tizing of professionalism and the shift from a
mechanical-object ethos to an organic-systems
ethos [ 22].
Good teachers do more than pass on facts;
they help students learn how to learn, so that
teaching becomes what Paulo Freire calls the
“practice of freedom,” a means to deal critically
with one’s living and discover how to transform
the world [ 23].
Freire also insisted on symmetry in the rela-
tion between teacher and student—or at least
“deep reciprocity.” (Good teachers learn from
their students.) Freire’s position echoes Horst
Rittel’s assertion that the participants in a
design project (all the stakeholders including
professional designers) share a “symmetry of
ignorance” (or knowledge) regarding the problem.
Rittel’s point is that design problems are always
“owned” by someone [ 1]. Design problems have
no objective definition; their definition reflects
the owner’s point of view. Here, Rittel challenged
the orthodoxy of professional problem solving
and opened the door to the design process, invit-
ing users and other stakeholders to step inside.