CfP: Quantified Self and Self-Tracking

In the last few years there has been a significant increase in public and academic interest in the use of devices or techniques for the accumulation, aggregation and analysis of personal data. Apps for mobile phones such asTrack My Run and body tracking devices such as JawboneFitbit and Nike’s Fuelband have perhaps garnered the widest attention with their ability to passively collect data on everyday activities which can then be analysed and shared with others. There is, however, more to quantified self than the mainstream media picture of obsessive “techies”. Many people engaged in “life logging” collate data on mood and experiences often without a direct quantitative element. While a relatively formalised arm of the quantified self movement has formed, through the Quantified Self group based in San Francisco, not everyone involved in quantified self activities is affiliated with Quantified Self. This formalised movement, as well as the broader cluster of practices and orientations which are coalescing within and beyond it, point to  commercial and political connections which have yet to be fully explored.

The new Quantified Self research network will explore the broad implications of this loose set of practical and ethical approaches to understanding bodies, psyches and everyday practices. While we are interested in exploring the practices and techniques of assessment we think it is equally important to understand the often novel ways in which the diverse types of analysis enable new forms of reflecting on the embodied self and relations with others. We hope to encourage interdisciplinary dialogue around this multitude of emerging issues, in the belief that historical, philosophical, cultural, sociological, psychology, economic, technological and political approaches all have a role to play in understanding this fascinating trend.

The network aims to:

  • Build network of scholars interested in qs
  • Explore possibilities for further research and collaborations
  • Share ideas about substantive issues
  • Support access and development of postgraduate and early career researchers
  • Develop sociological approaches to understanding qs
  • Identify potential for disciplinary collaborations
  • Develop relations with interested parties beyond  the academy
  • Potentially developing some sort of web resources (perhaps as part of the BSA Digital Sociology Groups’s website)

We’ve organised an initial seminar at the University of Leeds on September 17th. If you would like to do a short talk (20 mins max) about your research, intended research or simply to explain the intellectual basis for your interest in quantified self then please contact network organisers: Mark Carrigan (mark@markcarrigan.net) and Christopher Till (christophertill@hotmail.co.uk) with a short abstract and bio. Full details will be released soon for those who do not wish to present but would like to attend on the day. Furthermore, please get in touch if you would like to be kept informed about upcoming event or otherwise participate in the network.


Categories: Digital Sociology

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