I recently read about this guy, who registers a lot of facts, raw data, about his everyday life. Examples include minute details about his travels, what he eats, listens to, etc., etc. And then he publishes this in an annual book, statistically processed and beautifully visualized. The whole thing smells of an art statement, reminding of us that there are and have always been so many facts, numbers, and data about our life’s and our doings, and that in recent years so much more of it is digitally registered and so easily available for analyzing and sharing. His product is pretty and compelling, slightly narcissistic, and it does challenge me on relevance. Why should I care about this random guys’ tooth brushing habits? Maybe I’m supposed to imagine what a similar practice could do to my own life?
This inspired me to think about a few data collection services that I’ve started using over roughly the last 6 months.
- Last.fm: Registers all the music I listen to, then notifies me of new releases, related artists and concerts
- Endomondo: Records my workouts, e.g. running, maps them, and lets me participate in challenges
- Podio: Using it with a own-built basic app to register my spending habits
- Way of Life: A simple app where you tick off daily if you’ve achieved a goal (or not) – e.g. “had too much coffee”
I love these services. And I urge everyone to try them out, if you’re not already a user.
Looking beyond, all of these combined can provide a detailed picture of my everyday life, and I’m looking forward to a service which, like a tape recorder, will let me review my life minute by minute by integrating all of these services’ history, including of course also my Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Then it would identify trends for me, compare me with other people, recommend what I could improve, or maybe just let me build my own analysis.
By the way, this isn’t new. I remember discussing such a device five years ago, and I vaguely recall hearing that someone might already have such a product underway.
Wet dream or scary stuff? Will this provide insight and fuel personal development? What happens when companies know exactly where, when, and with who you use their products? Should law enforcement ever be granted access to this information?
Don’t be scared. Go capture your data.
(There’s more about Nicholas Felton at feltron.com and in other places).