So, let’s just get this out there first: “The tracking and analysis of aspects of one’s self and one’s body are not new practices” (Lupton 2013). People have always measured and kept information about their practices. There’s something fascinating about knowing how many steps you took today or how much you ate. Even the most basic of things – like how many hours you sleep at night, is interesting.
So why is the whole “quantified self” thing so popular now? There are a few reasons, but it’s really taken off now – it hit it’s Google peak in 2013 – because it’s so damn easy now. Technology lets us monitor EVERYTHING automatically and mindlessly. You can of course keep track of your calories, your workout regime and your sleep patterns, BUT don’t forget your sex life, your driving habits, your music recommendations and ladies, keep track of your cycles too! Another reason people are more likely to quantify themselves now is the drive towards “sharing the numbers” with other people. In this fancy, new, internet-driven world aggregated data is important currency and the ability to track and share data on ourselves underpins pretty much all of Social Media.
The ability to use technology to monitor our daily activities and increase knowledge of self has created the body-machine metaphor, which pretty much creates the idea of our body/self needing inputs (food, sleep) and outputs (info on how the body performs) to run correctly. Like a machine, data can be collected and studied and with this information we change and improve upon ourselves; we can ‘tweak the machine’. Monitoring these inputs digitally allows an honesty and thoroughness that’s not been had before, as Gary Wolf, one of the creators of The Quantified Self says, “Computers don’t lie. People lie” (2008)
So, while humans are becoming more entwined with machines, the internet of things (IoT, here) are being given life. Mitew recently described this emerging phenomenon; of the internet expanding using sensors and devices as “objects becoming tangibly social”(2014). These ‘things’ extend the internet into every aspect of our life, can become completely independent and their reach will only continue to expand. I’m struggling to understand this concept and definitely need to read up on it some more but I think this is pretty succinct;
“The first-order consequence of the Internet of Things is a network in which socially meaningful exchanges takes place, were culture is made, experiences circulated through media sharing — only with objects and human agents” Bleeker, 2005.
Humans compiling data and treating themselves like machines, machines becoming things that develop traits and idiosyncrasies independently. Damn, my brain is hurting! I suppose I should write that into my Mood App, yea?
Bleecker, J 2006, A Manifesto for Networked Objects – cohabiting with pigeons, arphids and aibos, Nearfuture Laboratory, , <http://nearfuturelaboratory.com/files/WhyThingsMatter.pdf>. Viewed 22/10/14
Hesse, M 2008, ‘Bytes of Life’, The Washington Post, September 9 2008, [online] <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09/08/AR2008090802681.html> Viewed 22/10/14
Lupton, D 2013, ‘Understanding the Human Machine’,COMMENTARY, Ieee Technology and Society magazine, winter 2013, [online] <https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/pluginfile.php/262115/mod_resource/content/1/Lupton%2C%20D.%20-%20Understanding%20the%20human%20machine.pdf> Viewed 22/10/14
Mitew, T 2014, The Internet of Things, lecture, DIGC202, Global Networks, University of Wollongong, delivered 21 October.