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Making Sense of Living a 'Quantified' Life

Oct 21, 2013

Credit allthingsd.com

If you think being wired is just being connected to the world around us through mobile devices, social media and the internet, you are thinking too small.

There are now people so wired that they track everything from their heartbeat to their sex life through some sort of mobile device.

It's all part of what has become something of a movement -- the quantified self movement.

"Some people swear by this. It's the way they make significant changes in their lives," said Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute's "Sense Making Project." "You can measure anything these days through technology: your weight, your sleep, indigestion, the steps you take, the calories you burn. Progressive Insurance has a device that will track your driving habits. You can trace your productivity. There's an app for your sex life, it's called "Spread Sheets." Some people are really into looking at all this data to improve their own lives."

But isn't there a point where you end up with T-M-I -- too much information?

"The Greek aphorism "Know Thyself" -- there's a fine line between self awareness and self absorption," said McBride. "That said,  I have a friend... he had a scale that would tweet his weight out to the universe. And he used it to hold himself accountable and to lose weight and help keep the weight off." 

There is one potential problem with the quantified life -- besides the threat of becoming a tad narcissistic. You aren't always the only person who sees this information you are collecting on yourself.

McBride explained, "the app that you are using, there is a 'terms of agreement' that is constantly changing. But, in general, those terms of agreement say that the app maker can do whatever they want with your data -- including sell it to other organizations. So they're trying to provide a balance between invading your privacy and providing  you with a better service."