Spring 2021

Shelbey Rolison

Shelbey Rolison

Ph.D. Student
UT Austin


Friday, 03/12/21 at 12:00 PM


The Communication that Supports Personal Data Tracking and Analytics

Watch the Video


The data I plan to present was collected in support of the NSF CAREER grant mentioned above. The goal of this area of the grant is to study how self-trackers communicate about the gathering and analysis of data for health and productivity, and to make recommendations that will be beneficial for refining personal health interventions and for healthcare writ large. This study is part of NSF’s 21st century focus to better understand how our country can prepare for the future of work at the human-technology frontier (https://www.nsf.gov/eng/futureofwork.jsp). I just concluded the first round of data collection, consisting of 30 interviews with personal data practitioners of varying levels of commitment and technological prowess at approximately 45 minutes each, and 10 hours of observational data collected attending Zoom calls for an online personal analytics support community. I will present preliminary themes emerging from the data, including: (1) participants' frustration with and attempts to resist the influence of Big Tech on how meaning is created from their data; (2) how personal data may be used in a clinical interaction, and how a providers' response to it determines its possibilities for supporting patient empowered care; (3) the perceived value of manual vs. automated tracking; and (4) how the communication practice of "show and tell" with other self-trackers supports individuals in their personal data projects.   


Shelbey Rolison is a PhD student studying Organizational Communication & Technology at the University of Texas at Austin. She works under Dr. Joshua Barbour in his lab, the Automation Policy and Research Organizing Network (APRON), in the Department of Communication Studies (apronlab.org). She is a Graduate Research Assistant on Dr. Barbour's NSF study titled  "CAREER: The Future of Work in Health Analytics and Automation: Investigating the Communication that Builds Human-Technology Partnerships." Her research interests lie in personal health data tracking, and the communication that can support it.