Quantified Humanists - Assignment #1.2: Self-Tracking Projects Review

01 31 2019

Assignment #1.2: Self-Tracking Projects Review, Link to Assignment

Through a meandering series of web searches I have found and collected a series of Quantified Self and Self-Tracking projects which all represent in some way the aspects of this type of work I find most interesting.

Project 1: Quotidian Record by Brian House

  • Description: This project consists of a custom-made vinyl record on which there is a melodic “song” printed which was generated based on his location data over the course of a year.

  • Broader Significance: This project is meant to offer a more beautiful, analog and relatable presentation of the same location data that is often used in borderline malicious ways by tech corporations.

  • Personal Interest: I am fascinated by this project because it seemingly manages to be both digital and analog/sculptural at the same time. The music produced is so wonderful to listen to, but by printing it onto a record it turns the digital song into a literal sculpture since the sound of a record is generated by physical dips and ridges.

  • Quotidian Record Project Link

Project 2: Kinetic Mesh by Stephen Cartwright

  • Description: This particular project is a kinetic sculpture which is actually able to display many different personal data sets by moving a changeable mesh using a large number of stepper motors.

  • Broader Significance: This project is not only a beautiful piece into itself, but it actually serves as somewhat of a flexible platform allowing for the visual and pleasurable presentation of many different personal data sets.

  • Personal Interest: I actually find most of Stephen’s work to be fantastic, because I am very interested in doing at least some work this semester making physical sculptures based on data and he has done many beautiful static sculptures of his own. However I could not resist including on this list this project in particular that is also inspiring for the ways it uses technology creatively.

  • Kinetic Mesh Project Link

Project 3: MoodBot by Alex Beil

images courtesy of Alex Beal

  • Description: Over the course of one and a half years, Alex used an app that they themselves developed to collect approximatly 10 data samples a day querying them on their mood on a scale from 1-5 as well as info on their current activity. They then analyzed this data by using simple graphs and looking at the overall relationships between the two types of data collected.

  • Broader Significance: While the method of tracking mood may not be as in depth or effective as, for example, the work of Jon Cousins, the analysis (and in particular the use of Markov connections) offers very insightful methods for using raw mood data to improve ones standard-of-life.

  • Personal Interest: I am very interested in looking at mood tracking this semester as a means of elucidating the vague notions I have about my own mood changes, and this project is a wonderfully thoughtful and thorough example of how to do that very simply but ,seemingly, effectively.

  • MoodBot Project Link

Project 4: Quantified Self Portrait by Michael Mandiberg

  • Description: The artist programmed his computer and smartphone to take a screenshot as well as a selfie every 15 minutes for an entire year. He then presented these images alongside each other as well as along side a daily personal observation in a sort of digital tryptic.

  • Broader Significance: This work offers an interesting new way of creating parallels between mood and activity. Rather than create concrete graphs and charts the way the piece is presented puts the onus on the viewer to create more abstract, emotional relationships between the things being done on the computer and the mood it generates on the face of the artist.

  • Personal Interest: What I am particularly interested in with this project is the use of photography for self-tracking. I have gotten in the habit of taking pictures of things I find beautiful or creatively inspiring, but I wonder if there is a way to take inspiration from Michael’s project to turn that concept into something more pervasive.

  • Quantified Self Portrait Project Link