Quantified-self is a movement or a philosophy of life that consists in getting to know yourself through monitoring and ongoing measurement. We could sum it up in one sentence: Self-knowledge through numbers.
Is it new?
It is not a new concept at all. Benjamin Franklin kept track of the ’13 Virtues of Life’ in his diary, which aimed to achieve moral perfection.
What does it consist in?
The quantified self is a wide concept that can be applied to many aspects of life (health, work, love, etc.). However, its basic procedure is always the same:
- Data collection. Collecting data can be done through wearable devices, computers or just by keeping a record of any of our activities.
- Data analysis. Turning data into information and then information into knowledge about ourselves.
- Self-improvement. Using what we know about ourselves in order to modify our behaviour and improve every day.
Going on a diet is a simple example of self-quantification. It’s easy to understand, but not so easy to accomplish 😉 It meets all the requirements. Weigh yourself on a daily basis, write it down on a calendar, analyse the trend and try to reach your aimed weight through diet and exercise.
Phrased like that, it does not sound quite technological and yet we could tell our friends that we are ‘self-quantifiers’. What about buying some devices and downloading some apps instead? It sounds much better, doesn’t it?
If we keep the same example, increasing our physical activity is another kind of quantification where many companies help users by providing them with sensors and software. Check around and you will see runners with heart rate monitors, executives with activity trackers and an increasing number of people using their smartphones’ apps to remind them that they have not reached their daily walking goal yet.
A picture is worth a thousand words, but a clip film is worth a million.
What about you? Are you going to join the Quantified-self movement?
Translation by Pablo Velázquez