The Quantified Self

In this fascinating TED talk, Gary Wolfe discusses a new hobby which digital technology is giving rise to – people collecting, reviewing and acting upon data about their own lives. With smart phones, as well as the innovative and evergrowing range of applications available for them, it is becoming possible to quantify vast swathes of your everyday life and to do so in a way which is susceptible to review and response. What consequences do these new possibilities hold for being human? Is this something which will remain confined as a passtime for the geeky and curious? Or is it something which heralds real change in the way human beings approach their existence? And what on earth would Foucault have made of it…?

Categories: Uncategorized

1 reply »

  1. Utterly fascinating topic, but he did not analyse it at all, only presented some cool new gadgets and at the end appeared to endorse an unfounded opinion that we ought to use those in order to know ourselves better. He did mention that these devices and measuring activities are both a way of extrospection and introspection, but so what does that mean? There are so many more things he could have at least hinted at. This numerical knowledge presumes a very narrow notion of the self. It is also part of the redirection of human activity into the virtual sphere. There’s a whole new area of study about us becoming more like cyborgs due to our increasing reliance on and symbiosis with human-produced tools. In what way are the new self-measurement culture different to previously existing modes knowledge of the world and self-knowledge? How does participating in it redefine the relation between the self and its environment? How do people actually use these tools for self-improvement – and do they perhaps also use them for anything else – as an excuse for communication, or just a past-time, or…or…? Is this a quantitative difference ( we have more data) or a qualitative one (we have better data)? Is this knowledge? Is it knowledge for the sake of something – or for its own sake? What about navel-gazing? … … …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *