What did you do today? Nothing? Zero? Oh, go on facebook and compare your productivity with others – “X” finished an impressive run, “Y” cycled across California and “Z” slept for 5 hours and is feeling great. I thought that it’s just a natural way people motivate themselves through public statements or just show off.
Apparently it is called “The Quantified Self” and is a growing trend. The Quantified Self is a movement to incorporate technology into data acquisition on aspects of a person’s daily life in terms of inputs (e.g. food consumed, quality of surrounding air), states, and performance (mental and physical). The movement was started by Wired Magazine editors Gary Wolf and Kevin Kelly in 2007, as “a collaboration of users and tool makers who share[d] an interest in self knowledge through self-tracking”. In 2010, Wolf spoke about the movement at TED.
As everything analog shifts to digital, we can collect a huge amount of data about ourselves. Our life can be quantified and all these activities are related to self-surveillance. Which feels pretty uncomfortable, but is it worth it? The idea of measuring things to chart progress towards a goal is something we learn about in large organisations. It sounds pretty corporate but also is extremely useful at work. As never before we’re able to track our private lives – so not only doctors know about us, but also we can provide helpful data about our heart, weight fluctuation, mood, exercise, sleep etc.