Metrics, data, algorithms and numbers play an unmistakably powerful role in today’s society. Over the years, their use and function have expanded to cover almost every sphere of everyday life so much so that it can be argued that we are now living in a ‘metric culture’, a term indicating at once the growing cultural interest in numbers and a culture that is increasingly shaped by numbers, as Beer (2016) also argues. At the same time, metric culture is not only about numbers and numbers alone, but also links to issues of power and control, to questions of value and agency and to expressions of self and identity. Self-tracking practices are indeed a manifestation of this metric culture and a testimony to how measurement, quantification, documentation and datafication have all become important tropes for managing life and the living in contemporary society. In this introductory chapter, I provide a general contextualisation of the topic of this edited collection along with an overview of the different chapters and their key arguments.
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