Wednesday, January 01, 2014

The Examined Life

My digital footprint grows with every step, literally. An app tracks my every step, prompting me to drink more water, and plays a happy tune when I reach my step count. A different app tracks my runs and yet another my sleep habits. I have an app that can measure my heart-rate. I track my caloric intake. 

An app tracks my drive, suggests a route and predicts my arrival, another texts my wife when I'm close to home. At least one and probably two devices track my car regardless of who's driving or as it sits, bored, waiting for me in the parking lot. 

The phone company and NSA tracks my cell phone. And if you've followed my blog, you know I review books and have an app that I use to track my to do list. Alarms tell me when to leave for work, chime all day for meetings, when to go to lunch, when to go home, when to go exercise and when to go to bed. All the music I listen to is tracked, each new play or skip altering the contents of the playlist.

It's interesting because it's a lot of data. Bits and snips, zeroes and ones, left all over the internet. It's that interesting question between data and information. Can I make something of this? Should I make something of this? Some people have made neat infographics out of their data, how much running or how many pints they consumed in a year, how many times they wore purple, whatever. 

While I'll continue to track, for now, it's only for use in the now, in the moment. I don't have plans to build it into an infographic, to turn it from data into information. If I did, I wonder what I'd learn. For one thing, it would probably point to how lazy I am. Because it would probably be the work of an app invented by next December that aggregates all the data for me.

So why track? For now, it's entertainment, it's amusing, it's a toy. At some point maybe it gets interesting and useful. But for now, little trinkets to keep me honest about my diet and exercise (when I start using them again after this shameful Christmas break) and little toys to make my drive more interesting.

Would be interesting to see what the NSA thinks of me.
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