Tag: Quantified Self

Data Friction

A few years ago, Paul Edwards and colleagues (2011) introduced a notion of “science friction”—the idea that scientific datasets do not magically fuse together into a readily accessible “open” stockpile, and instead must be communicated and reshaped in order for scientists to collaborate across them.  While it is all too easy to imagine endlessly wired interoperable devices, and bodies thoroughly mediated by fluid streams of measurement, the reality is not that simple. The Data Friction panel at the American Anthropological Association (AAA) meetings this past year attempted to take the idea of science friction further, and ask what else can we see when we turn our attention to frictionful encounters with data.  This panel considered what alternative forms of knowing become possible by paying attention occasions where data fails to be mobile, or to the ways data and bodies resist being bound by models, devices, and infrastructures. What we see when we pay attention to frictions are significant questions of ownership, the slipperiness social relations, and examples of how people inhabit more fundamental social, material and conceptual incommensurabilities that data often surfaces.  These social formations open up broader questions of the work that underlying notions of what constitutes “data” are doing. (read more...)

Fit for Halloween

All Hallow’s Eve, better known as Halloween, is a perfect time to reflect on one’s survival skills. While scholars contest the origins of Halloween–-Celtic? Pagan? Roman?–-one thing is for certain: it’s a good time to be quick on your feet. Just one of the common dangers on All Hallows, at least in my neighbourhood, is hungry, animated corpses with a taste for human flesh, more commonly known as zombies. To be clear, my neighbourhood has a lot of rage zombies. It is of paramount importance to be quick on your feet if you are being pursued by rage zombies. Faster and more aggressive than their predecessors, who shambled along hoping to bump into clueless, hapless and/or immobile tasty humans, rage zombies come after you with gusto. Two stories about getting fitter Before continuing, I want to share a couple of stories, based on journal entries, with you: Story #1 It’s (read more...)

The Quantified Self Movement is not a Kleenex

by Dawn Nafus and Jamie Sherman The Quantified Self (QS) is a global movement of people who numerically track their bodies.  If you were to read popular press accounts like this, this and this, you could be forgiven for thinking that it was a self-absorbed technical elite who used arsenals of gadgets to enact a kind of self-imposed panopticon, generating data for data’s sake. Articles like this could easily make us believe that this group unquestioningly accepts the authority of numerical data in all circumstances (a myth nicely debunked here). Kanyi Maqubela sees a lack of diversity in “the quantified self.”  On one hand, he is absolutely right to say that developing technologies to get upper middle class people who do yoga and shop at farmers markets to “control their behavior” is a spectacular misrecognition of the actual social problem at hand,[1] and one that can be attributed directly to (read more...)