The Quantified Self and the Rise of Big Personal Data
In the fall of 2012, IIT ID graduate students looked at this fast-moving confluence of self-tracking, personal information economies and Big Data of the personal kind. They evaluated known data on these topics through secondary research. They then integrated their findings into a first-generation map of the Quantified Self Ecosystem . Informed with their new knowledge of emerging technology platforms, user activities and potential points of economic value, the students created a range of concepts applying user-centered design principles to advance the self-tracking movement.
The quantified self, self-tracking or lifestream movement is an emerging area of human activity that is being shaped by technological possibility rather than end-users. Initially the province of devotees of handwritten ledgers, diaries and the occasional spreadsheet, the movement is now being powered by software, sensors and networks to monitor sleep, moods, financial practices and mouse clicks.
Proposed User Experience
As programmers are figuring out what individuals might be interested in tracking and how, they are in the process creating platforms for a new information economy. This emerging economy is premised on you. In this sense, the new economy is one that is vastly more personal because it requires your cooperation and openness to sharing microdata about how you live and what you do even in the most unguarded corners of your life, such as sleep. In another sense, it is highly impersonal, as it reduces the individual to data generators for a new economic engine.
In the world of personal data, automated monitoring and tracking vectors towards an “interesting possible,” a 1984-ish specter, or simply an inevitability. Design has a powerful leadership role to play in this movement that has profound implications for all areas of life and business. How will we make sense of large personal data sets? How will we control and contribute to those data sets? What are the business models for users profiting from their data? These are core challenges of the personal information economy.