You are being tracked. Every single day, little pieces of your data are flying home to the vault. EZPass knows your driving habits, FICO knows (seemingly) everything, CVS anticipates when you need more band-aids, Target knows when you’re pregnant, Facebook can predict when you’ll get engaged, and FourSquare knows what you did last summer.
We’re essentially writing in a data diary every day, creating the story of our lives for an audience of analysts. Without having to do anything, we’re receiving the most efficient marketing ever, whether its for band-aids or diamond rings. But what happens when we track ourselves, for ourselves?
The desire to own and analyze personal information is crystallizing into the Quantified Self movement and it’s picking up steam, transforming Fitbit wearers, RunKeepers, and Lose It! users into data junkies. The official home of QS is, of course, in California:
The Quantified Self is an international collaboration of users and makers of self-tracking tools. Quantified Self Labs is a California-based company founded by Gary Wolf and Kevin Kelly that serves the Quantified Self user community worldwide by producing international meetings, conferences and expositions, community forums, web content and services, and a guide to self-tracking tools. Our aim is to help people get meaning out of their personal data.
This movement is a growing boon for data and research scientists as people are self-creating troves of information about themselves. In the journal, Big Data, Melanie Swain declared that, “The individual body becomes a more knowable, calculable, and administrable object through QS activity, and individuals have an increasingly intimate relationship with data as it mediates the experience of reality.”
What does this intimate relationship with data look like? How do our individual experiences wrap into the larger whole?