Friday, 14 December 2012

Ready to annotate?

I first learnt about annotating in geography lessons. You drew your map of Norway, say, (and what a palaver this was, with all those complicated fjords) then added short pieces of descriptive writing, explaining where the hydro-electric plants were and, possibly, the location of the gravadlax factories. Annotated maps were all the rage in those days (we were easily pleased).

Probably thanks to those geography lessons, you can of course now add annotations to your Moodscope graph: 200 characters with Moodscope Lite, and a more capacious 400 characters with Moodscope Plus.

It's easy to do. Just click on the node representing any score to open a little box in which you type whatever you like, then click once more to save it.

What's the idea of doing this, though? And what kind of comments are people adding? One thought is to use the facility to explain your scores (where possible) so you'll remember what was going on in your world when you look back in the months to come.

Perhaps a particularly low score was the result of falling out with someone? Make a note of that. Or maybe you were feeling good because you'd had a few days away. Again, get that down so you can recall the full story when you look back in the future.

Others have come up with their own use for the annotations. I know people who use it as a way of recording what medication they take - enabling them to see the effect of taking it (or sometimes not). There again there are those who log their physical exercise in the annotations - miles run, or laps swum. Still others record their weight in the annotation boxes.

You name it and someone somewhere is probably recording it in their private annotations. And they are confidential. If you share your graph with a buddy, they can't see the annotations. One day we may be able to offer the sharing of comments as an option, but for now you're the only person who will see what you write.

Moodscope actually lets you make use of the annotations in another way, too. One of the Moodscope Plus tools is a pair of displays called Triggergrams. Each is a word cloud, whose words appear at different sizes according to how many times you've used them when annotating your graph. One Triggergram is devoted to your highest scoring days, the other to your lowest scoring ones. It means you can see at a glance if there are regular triggers associated with your ups and downs. Does it seem as though you tend to feel low when you're in the company of one certain person, say? On the other hand, maybe it looks as if there's a place you visit regularly that is linked to feeling better.

What's important is to start building a bank of information. Every time you record a score, make a point of pausing for thought, then type an explanation. If a close friend were to ask you to explain your current mood state, what would you say? Be brutally honest. Remember: nobody other than you can see what you've written.

Having the numbers to see your emotional variations is one thing, but the annotations add meaning.

How do you think annotating your mood graph might help? Any suggestions that might help others? We'd love to hear from you so please comment below.