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The purpose of this article is to examine the ways in which self-tracking data have meaning and value in and after the life of the creator, including how such data could…
The purpose of this article is to examine the ways in which self-tracking data have meaning and value in and after the life of the creator, including how such data could become part of the larger historical record, curated in an institutional archive. In doing so, the article expands upon existing shared interests among researchers working in the areas of self-tracking, human–computer interaction and archival science.
A total of 18 people who had self-tracked for six months or more were recruited for the study. Participants completed a survey which gathered demographic data and characteristics vis-à-vis their self-tracking behavior. In-person semi-structured interviews were then conducted to ascertain the beliefs of the participants regarding the long-term use and value of personal quantified-self data.
The findings reveal the value that people place on self-tracking data, their thoughts on proper modes for accessing their archive once it moves from the private to the public space, and how to provide fidelity within the system such that their experiences are represented while also enabling meaning making on the part of subsequent users of the archive.
Today’s quantified-self data are generally embedded in systems that create a pipeline from the individual source to that of the corporate warehouse, bent on absorbing and extracting insight from a totality of big data. This article posits that new opportunities for knowing and for design can be revealed when a public interest rationale is appended to rich personalized collections of small data.
This chapter provides an insider perspective on the Quantified Self (QS) community. It is argued that the overall approach and methods used in the QS community have not…
This chapter provides an insider perspective on the Quantified Self (QS) community. It is argued that the overall approach and methods used in the QS community have not been adequately described. Consequently, the aim of the chapter is to give an account of the work performed by self-trackers in what we coin the 1-Person-Laboratory (1PL). Additionally, the chapter describes other aspects of the 1PL, for example the methods, procedures and instrumentation that are being used and the knowledge sharing taking place in the QS community. With a point of departure in empirical cases it is demonstrated how QS self-trackers put their own questions, observations and subjective experience front and centre by using their own instrumentation and data sets in their personal laboratories. In the 1PL, the causalities that are looked for are not aimed at generalisation to an entire population; on the contrary, the causal connections on the level of the person are essential for discovery by the individual.
Contemporary society is characterized by extreme acceleration (Rosa, 2010). Time has become a scarce resource and individuals are forced to adhere to the demands of speediness. This condition is connected to the increased performance now required in many areas of daily life, an increase so profound that some authors refer to ours as a “doping society.”
This chapter argues that the practice of quantification exponentially increases the “managerializing” of the user. In this sense, the quantified-self (QS) can be thought of as something that helps people to organize their activities in the manner of the market. Individuals thus become self-entrepreneurs who, in keeping with the standard aims of neoliberalism, make use of their collected data in a fashion analogous to the way results are determined in a corporation’s Research & Development department. The self becomes an assortment of analyses by which measures of behaviors and habits are made, all in the name of producing an “objective report” on the user’s characteristics. The ultimate aim of all this is to improve certain parts of life so as to increase and optimize our productivity.
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…
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.
Nowadays there are many digital tools and mediatised ways for self-tracking for the sake of gaining self-knowledge through numbers. In his recent book ‘Resonance’, Hartmut…
Nowadays there are many digital tools and mediatised ways for self-tracking for the sake of gaining self-knowledge through numbers. In his recent book ‘Resonance’, Hartmut Rosa suggests that artefacts can indeed resonate with people (Rosa, 2016, p. 381ff.) by affecting emotion, intrinsic interests and self-efficacy expectations. In contrast, Rosa characterises self-tracking as an attempt to measure the resource potential of individuals, confounding it with the good life itself (Rosa, 2016, p. 47). That is why we want to challenge Rosa’s concept of a good life and enhance the assertion of individual and social practices that can generate resonance.
With several case studies, we want to study empirically how people ‘resonate’ (or not) with and in self-tracking practices and to which degree Rosa’s hypothesis is verifiable or not. By empirically contrasting the quantifying practices and metric culture of self-tracking with the recently emerging sociological field of ‘world relationships’ and ‘resonance’, new insights on the embedding of the quantified with the qualified self will be gained.
Purpose: As biomedicine grants technology and quantification privileged roles in our cultural constructions of health, media and technology play an increasingly important…
Purpose: As biomedicine grants technology and quantification privileged roles in our cultural constructions of health, media and technology play an increasingly important role in mediating our everyday experiences of our bodies and may contribute to the reproduction of gendered norms.
Design: This study draws from a broad variety of disciplines to contextualize and interpret contemporary trends in self-quantification, focusing on metrics for health and fitness. I will also draw from psychology and feminist scholarship on objectification and body-surveillance.
Findings: I interpret body-tracking tools as biomedical technologies of self-surveillance that facilitate and encourage control of human bodies, while solidifying demands for standardization around neoliberal values of enhancement and optimization. I also argue that body-tracking devices reinforce and normalize the scrutiny of human bodies in ways that may reproduce and advance longstanding gender disparities in detriment of women.
Implications: A responsible conceptualization, design, implementation, and usage of health-tracking technologies requires us to recognize and better understand how technologies with widely touted benefits also have the potential to reinforce and extend inequalities, alter subjective experiences and produce damaging outcomes, especially among certain groups. I conclude by proposing some alternatives for devising technologies or encouraging practices that are sensitive to these differences and acknowledge the validity of alternative values.
What counts as evidence of good performance, behaviour or character? While quantitative metrics have long been used to measure performance and productivity in schools, factories and workplaces, what is striking today is the extent to which these calculative methods and rationalities are being extended into new areas of life through the global spread of performance indicators (PIs) and performance management systems. What began as part of the neoliberalising projects of the 1980s with a few strategically chosen PIs to give greater state control over the public sector through contract management and mobilising ‘users’ has now proliferated to include almost every aspect of professional work. The use of metrics has also expanded from managing professionals to controlling entire populations. This chapter focuses on the rise of these new forms of audit and their effects in two areas: first, the alliance being formed between state-collected data and that collected by commercial companies on their customers through, for example loyalty cards and credit checks. Second, China’s new social credit system, which allocates individual scores to each citizen and uses rewards of better or privileged service to entice people to volunteer information about themselves, publish their ‘ratings’ and compete with friends for status points. This is a new development in the use of audit simultaneously to discipline whole populations and responsibilise individuals to perform according to new state and commercial norms about the reliable/conforming ‘good’ citizen.
In this chapter, we draw on our study involving interviews with Australians who identify as current self-trackers to discuss why and how they monitor themselves. Our…
In this chapter, we draw on our study involving interviews with Australians who identify as current self-trackers to discuss why and how they monitor themselves. Our approach for analysing self-tracking practices is based on a sociomaterial perspective, viewing enactments of voluntary self-tracking as shifting heterogeneous assemblages, bringing together diverse actors who are both human and non-human. We use vignettes to illustrate the ways in which our participants enacted self-tracking and to identify some of the diverse meanings and motivations that mediate decisions to self-track and resultant uses of the information thus generated. We found that a varied range of self-tracking practices were taken up by our interviewees, including not only digital devices and methods, but also recording their details using pen-and-paper, or simply maintaining mental awareness and using memory. We identified several agential capacities in our participants’ accounts of why and how they monitor themselves. These capacities are interrelated, but can be loosely grouped under the headings of ‘self-improvement’, ‘exerting control’ and ‘identifying patterns and achieving goals’. They are motivators and facilitators of monitoring practices. The broader sociocultural contexts in which monitoring of the body/self is undertaken were also revealed in the participants’ accounts. These include ideas about the moral virtues of self-responsibility and the individual management of life circumstances to avoid chaos and risk, and the notion that monitoring practices can successfully achieve these virtues.