Dominikus BaurData Visualization

The Songs of Our Past (PhD Thesis)

December 2011
Client: -
at LMU Munich w/ various gifted students
Role(s): Project lead, Development, Design, Conception, Science (Thesis)


From 2007 to 2011 I did my PhD in Media Informatics at the University of Munich (LMU).

My research focused on personal interaction histories and "lifelogging" - a topic only slowly gaining in popularity back then. My approach hypothesized about this data being used by everybody both for reminiscing (looking backwards) and informing future decisions.

As an exemplary dataset for lifelogging data I picked, a service to track your music listening habits with a very allowing API. Around this data I created various prototypes together with Master and Diplom students, showing the promise of lifelogging data using 'casual personal visualizations'.

Among the created projects were:

  • LastHistory (w: Frederik Seiffert) - a music listening history visualization highlighting both long-term as well as daily patterns. It enabled playback of songs (listening to the songs of a previous summer vacation, for example), while also showing photos from that time - a reminiscing machine.

  • Rush - an interaction technique with intelligent suggestions based on a listening history to quickly create playlists. For mobile devices and touch-based input.

  • Listening Factors (w: Jennifer Büttgen) - a large-scale Principal Components Analysis of thousands of listening histories trying to determine what influences people when listening to music.

  • SongWords (w: Bartholomäus Steinmayr) - a lyrics-based visualization for tabletop displays.