April 28, 2010, 11:21 am
The Examined Life, by the Numbers
By Lisa Agustin
Gary Wolf offers an in-depth look at how number-crunching is no longer confined to the workplace or the realm of geeky habits, but has become mainstream, thanks to technology (think automated sensors and video) and online tools created specifically for the personal tracking of just about everything, including health, mood, productivity, and location. Why all the self-interest? According to Wolf, for some it’s a matter of answering a question, measuring changes, or reaching a goal (that last ten pounds!), but it may also be about reclaiming some piece of ourselves from the “cloud”–that vague, global network to which we entrust what is personal (photos, addresses, random thoughts, etc.):
One of the reasons that self-tracking is spreading widely beyond the technical culture that gave birth to it is that we all have at least an inkling of what’s going on out there in the cloud. Our search history, friend networks and status updates allow us to be analyzed by machines in ways we can’t always anticipate or control. It’s natural that we would want to reclaim some of this power: to look outward to the cloud, as well as inward toward the psyche, in our quest to figure ourselves out.
Read the full story to see links to notable tracking projects– or feel free to start your own.