The information architecture of happiness: Building a system that helps improving personal happiness

Talk + Q&A | Thursday 24th September, 3:15pm – 3:45pm CEST

Personal happiness may seem like an intangible, spiritual concept which is hardly measurable and difficult to improve. This talk offers an alternative view, by looking on individual happiness as an information system. In this system, people can track, measure and improve their happiness on an individual level. Consequently it can support humans in reducing uncertainty on the impact of their actions on their individual happiness and help them build their individual preferable future.

To view personal happiness from an information architecture point of view is relatively new: Currently 6.960.000.000 results on Google for “how to be happy” point to practical, religious, generic, and mainly esoteric advice. Also, a lot of empirical studies are being carried out about what makes big groups of living beings happy (e.g. the population of a country). In contrast to this huge amount of instructional content, data based and personalizable Happiness Information Systems are still pretty rare. Such a system is specific to an individual, since it is based on all kinds of available personal data. Humans were never before in a situation where more data about them was being tracked and stored, by them or by third parties. Also, accessing the technology and infrastructure to manage as well as analyse those data has become ridiculously easy. We can use this fact to our benefit: It is only logic to assemble those parts in order to take control of one’s personal happiness.

While improving one’s personal happiness is a desirable goal to have, it is also a great exercise for anyone who professionally deals with managing information to get into thinking about data based methodologies. This leads to investigating how to measure and improve soft factors (based on hypotheses) and actually trying things out. In addition, the exercise helps to learn about tracking and analysis, without the hassle of a client, time pressure, weird requirements, politics and so on. The insights of this talk are drawn from desk research as well as a self-built digital happiness tool. The tool, the methodology behind it, as well as its evolution over the past year are going to be demonstrated in the talk.

Benjamin Lipinski