Advancing the Value of Ethnography

Researching the Researcher: How I Used Data Analysis to Understand My Reading Habits


Cite this article:

2020 EPIC Proceedings p 190, ISSN 1559-8918,

PechaKucha Presentation—The digital world has given us unprecedented access to information about ourselves. As human beings we can quantify ourselves on the basis of how much we eat, how much we exercise, how many miles we’ve travelled, among dozens of other facets of our lives. As technology gives us access to more and more 1s and 0s, our ability to measure and codify ourselves grows exponentially.

But these data can tell us stories, if we take the opportunity to stop and reflect on them. In this talk I examine one facet of my life – my reading habits – and put it under the microscope. I try to learn more about myself by examining seven years’ worth of raw data, collected across 200 books. Using the research findings I make recommendations to myself about my reading habits, addressing areas such as author diversity, genre variety, among others. In addition, I explore the power of books in evoking emotional memories. Books anchor us in place, in time, and in emotional contexts. I argue that these are invaluable opportunities, in a world that moves so fast we don’t often have a chance at such reflection.

Stephen Ó Mathúna is a UX Researcher based in Ireland. In 2015 he swapped academia for the world of product design and research. Since then he has applied his passion for research in the industries of augmented reality, education, travel, and human capital management.