The Emergence of Lifelogging and The Quantified Self

Lifelogging is the process of tracking personal data generated by our own behavioral activities. While Lifestreaming primarily tracks the activity of content we create and discover, Lifelogging tracks personal behavior data like exercising, sleeping, and eating. This may sound a bit confusing but hopefully the distinction between the two makes sense.

The term Lifelogging was coined by Gordon Bell who’s reason for tracking this information was to help optimize our behaviors by analyzing and learning from the data collected. The last two years saw a spark in the release of devices to help track several different personal aspects of our lives. I wrote a post last year that provides more information on Gordon’s research as well as pointing to an issue of Wired that had several articles that did a good job covering this topic to help get you up to speed. There was an interesting conversation during an episode of TWIT in November of 2009 that talked about it which I also wrote about. There’s also a good post from Steve Rubel that provides a primer.

I’ve been keeping my eye on the developments in this area and things have steadily continued to take off. There have been many products released to help us generate data to help us track what our bodies generate. But this has become a movement that has grown beyond just tools to designed to track data. Earlier this year I also learned about The Quantified Self. This site is the base for a community of users who collaborate to share self-knowledge, tools and interests around the topic of self-tracking. Besides using the website to share information, they also have self show and tell meetings all over the world (except LA *shakes fist*). The community is maintained by Wired co-founder Kevin Kelly, Wired contributing Editor Gary Wolf, and co-founder of CureTogether Alexandra Carmichael. To bring things full-circle they also have an advisory board that Gordon Bell sits on.

Here’s a 5 minute intro video on The Quantified Self that Gary Wolf did at TED.

There are many devices that have come out that can generate data about our bodies. Some of the more popular ones are the Withings wi-fi body scale, Runkeeper fitness tracker, Fitbit fitness & sleep tracker, Nike+ and Garmin Connect fitness trackers as well just to name just a few. There is a huge list broken down by categories over at The Quantified Self here. So as you can see there is no shortage of devices and services out there to help us get data about ourselves with many more surely on the way. I’m looking forward towards delving into this area more in the coming year and writing about it here.

Other articles on The Quantified Self at GOOD and the New York Times

4 thoughts on “The Emergence of Lifelogging and The Quantified Self”

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