Welcome to the age of the ‘quantified self’, also referred to as personal informatics, life hacking, self-hacking or self-tracking, where personal data is collected, measured and compared to shape life decisions and future actions.
The movement really took hold in California in 2007 when journalist and author Gary Wolf co-founded the Quantified Self blog, which carries the slogan ‘self-knowledge through numbers’.
A minefield of personal data
The ‘quantified self’ craze quickly gathered a following of early adopters, from technology evangelists, fitness freaks to personal improvement enthusiasts who began measuring pretty much any personal data that can be measured.
From sleep patterns, footsteps taken, calorie intake, heart rate, memories, physical exertion right down to more personal details such as bowel movements and patterns of sexual activity, no stone is left unturned as fans of the movement seek to understand how data shapes our lives.
The impact of technology
Smartphones have played an obvious role in the popularity of self-tracking for the average man on the street. Over half of Australians are now armed with a smartphone and recent research by Nielsen forecasts 39% of Australian homes will own a tablet computer by 2013.
These devices are packed with cameras, motion sensors and GPS – all essential tools for self-tracking.
There’s an app for that
These are just a few of the most popular self-track apps that are available in Google Play and the App Store:
The ‘quantified self’ is here to stay
Virtually all of our actions generate data – it’s about how we use this to shape decisions. No matter what your aim is in life, there’s a way to measure and improve your path to get there.
Have you tried any tools to quantify yourself? Tell us in the comments section below about your experiences.
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