Pointing in the right direction again

Enormous thanks for your patience, which has allowed me the space today to (a) properly work out what had gone wrong with Signpost, (b) put it right, and (c) introduce a few new surprises that I hope you’ll enjoy.

As this email is going out, I’m reinstating the text reminder system, so your usual messages should start appearing again soon (unless, of course, you’d previously asked me to stop them).

As I suspected, the feedback had got pretty messed up, with lots of “angry” conclusions drawn where they shouldn’t have been. Things should be a lot better now.

One small but important change is that the 11th question when you check in, which asks about your overall emotional state, now has the answer “So-so” in place of “Reasonably good.”

You’d be quite right to suggest that the “temperature” of this answer has gone down a notch. Whereas “reasonably good” indicated a somewhat positive emotional state, “so-so” is clearly more neutral. A bit kind of “meh,” if you like.

The logic behind this is that if you judge your overall state as “good,” the system will take that at face value, so it won’t try to persuade you that you are in fact, for example, angry (promise).

However, any other answer to this question – “So-so,” “A little difficult,” or “Difficult” – will cause the system to look at your underlying emotions, in order to discover what might be going on behind the scenes for you.

If you don’t want to know, for some reason, just answer “Good” to question 11, but if you’re happy to explore, give one of the other three responses.

You’ll find that the short text descriptions under the audio control strip have now been replaced with a simple list of your individual responses for that day, grouped into happiness-related, anxiety-related, and anger-related feelings.

In addition, one of three smiley emoticons sits alongside each of the ten feelings/emotions to indicate whether your response is likely to be making a positive, neutral, or negative impact on your overall emotional state.

Sorry of this sounds a bit complicated, but if you look back at your previous signposts, I think it will all become clear.

I felt this would be a sensible move, enabling you to make your own judgements about individual days, rather than having a computer program trying to sum things up for you, which I think is always going to sound weirdly artificial.

I’ve tried to work as thoroughly as possible today (Thursday) so I really hope your Signpost experience will be tons better when you next visit, which I trust will be soon.

Do please feel free to let me know what you think. I’d love to get a conversation going, and you won’t have to wait for me to wake up on Friday morning!

15 thoughts on “Pointing in the right direction again

  1. Hi Jon,
    It is very clear that you are working very hard on this initiative and I really would like to praise your efforts for the work you are doing with ‘Signpost’.
    I have to say apart from the odd conclusion that I was angry, I have found the whole experience very rewarding and have looked forward to the text each morning (in my case).
    I’m sure this will work out right, it can’t fail with the commitment that you demonstrate to get it right.
    Great stuff Jon!
    P.S. Love the ‘so-so’ response that’s so British! (If you don’t mind me saying)!

    1. Thanks Paul, your enthusiasm is highly contagious!

      Delighted to have you, and so many others, very engaged with this mission.

      Always nice to maintain a degree of British-ness, where one can, I think. 😎

  2. Jon-this is not my day. The audio didn’t work so I don’t know what you were going to say to me–not angry I figured out. And then, as I was writing to you, the box disappeared so I went back to the mailbox to get the address and started over.
    I’m afraid to say too much–the ceiling may fall on me or the computer explode! You are doing a great job — haven’t heard British expletives, so that’s good.
    Must go before the 3rd thing happens–things come in 3’s!!! Or is that only American.

    Have a good evening.


    1. As it said on Elon’s dashboard, Don’t Panic.

      Sorry you had problems, Marilu. Perhaps worth pointing out that when Signpost goes into production it will be a “proper” app, rather than a glorified website, which is what it is right now.

      These technical problems will be but a mere memory. 😎

  3. Hi Jon. I have to say that my experience of using signpost has been very rewarding so far. It has said quite a few times that I’ve been angry, and this has actually resonated in truth most of the time and got me thinking about how I can deal with that which is outside of my control. I also really like the morale-boosting texts. I think now that you’ve ironed out a few gremlins with your dedication it will be fab. Thanks for all the hard work you’ve put into this!

    1. Thank you, Andrew. Great to hear your enthusiasm. It’s super to hear you saying that Signpost has resonated with you. I hope I’ve addressed most of the gremlins, but I’m sure there are more to be found. It’s a bit like a treasure hunt!

  4. I’ve very much appreciated Signposts so far. I’ve chosen to receive my text just before the start of what is always a frantically busy time at work, so on work days it’s a welcome reminder to pause and check in with myself before plunging in to the fray.

    The new twists made me smile today – it has echoes of a feature of Moodscope Plus that I used to find useful.

    I like ‘so-so’ and think I should probably use it more, stop and consider what’s really going on underneath my initial responses.

    If you wanted to be authentically British you could always add a ‘mustn’t grumble’ choice of response…

    1. I like the idea of working out a good time for you to receive your text message, Mary. Sounds as though you’re finding ways to customise and personalise your use of the system, which is fantastic.

      Mustn’t grumble. Love it! Thanks Mary,

  5. Hi Jon. I’ve really been enjoying everything about Signpost. I can only begin to imagine the complexity behind it. So many strands ( of which you are obviously master ) pulled together to make such a useful tool that is a delight to use. Nothing ‘so-so’ about Signpost. It’s brilliant.

    I did feel a bit ‘thrown’ by the ‘anger’ but it did make me think about my attitudes to others in a constructive way and as you said at the beginning there were bound to be glitches.

    In common with others, I hope you’re looking after yourself the way you look after us! Get some sleep!

    All the best

    1. Thanks for such positive and thoughtful comments, Siobhan. I have to say, I’m hugely enjoying working on this project, not least because of the rich interaction with people such as your good self that it’s generating.

      It’s also enabling me to utilise a whole range of different skills and techniques, including programming, writing, design, recording… I’m very aware that once we’ve got some things worked out, the project will greatly benefit from having experts in these fields involved, but this is the part of building a product that I love the most. Thank you for nudging me to recognise this!

      Yes, I’m taking good care of myself I think. It’s definitely about pacing – and doing some pre-planning, but not so much that you lose the chance to pick up on things as they develop spontaneously.

  6. Hi Jon,

    First of all, thank you so much for your ongoing efforts to help others out!

    I feel privileged to be one of the first batch of ‘testers’ and just wanted to let you know how I enjoy hearing your voice each morning.

    It’s very pleasant and calming, and really helps me feeling less lonely.

    Also love your accent 😉

    Thanks again!

  7. Well, thank you, Martine. They’re lovely words indeed. This is all a big experiment, leading us towards something that I don’t think has ever really been done before.

    Kind of you to appreciate my accent. I’ve been working on it for a while. 🙂

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