Quantified Humanists - Assignment #1.3: Reflection

01 31 2019

Assignment #1.3: Reflection, Link to Assignment

Within the last few years, as physical and digital tools for self tracking have become more widely available, I have dabbled in using them in various ways. I owned and used a fitbit for about a year, have attempted to use various apps for logging strength training and I tried to motivate myself to develop habits using the apps Streaks and Habitica. However, I have never been able to get myself to use any of these for any length of time, and the only tracking app I use still with any regularity is the Nike Run app which I simply turn on when I occasionally go for a run. As you can tell, my attempts to use these techniques for improving my health and productivity have been both lackluster and largely unsuccessful, but also overall I am generally content with the status of those parts of my life at the moment so I am not particularly inclined to try to go back to those areas of focus.

Instead, there are two particular areas of my own life I am interested in looking at, as well as two or three creative interests I am interested in pursuing in analyzing and visualizing those areas. Firstly I am interested in being more deliberate about gathering and tracking those things I find creatively inspiring. I find the idea of attempting to quantify something generally considered as amorphous as creative inspiration to be incredibly appealing. In terms of purely tracking this information, I plan on initially turning to instagram and every post I have liked since joining the platform. This could require some manual filtering however to sort out the things I find visually inspiring and things that are simply funny or I liked in support of a friend. I also have a growing folder of images on my phone which I turn to for inspiration as well. Obviously the challenge here is quantifying the images, but I am hoping to, at least initially, turn to ml5 to be a useful tool in the process.

The second thing I am hoping to look at has a distinctly different tone. I have been inspired by the self tracking projects I have found that take a quantified look at personal mood and its influences. Like many people I sometimes struggle with anxiety and self-doubt which can lead to noticeable ups and downs in my mood through a day or week. Being a self-prescribed analytical person I am interested in attempting to track this aspect of my life to provide some hard data outlining the frequency and correlations of this part of my life that can otherwise be challenging to think about objectively. Considering the technological nature of the course the one thing I have to be careful about is that in some cases exposure to technology itself could be a cause of downturns in my mood. This could come in the form of exposure to the manicured lives of others on social media, or simply from the stress of working on tech projects like the one meant specifically to alleviate that anxiety. I am not entirely sure how I plan on tracking this, but I am very interested in the work of Jon Cousins and his subconscious word association exercises.

When it comes to visualizing and artistically critiquing my findings, I have three main things I am considering focusing on. One of the main reasons I took this class was to further develop my p5.js and javascript abilities, and so I will want to make sure to use those tools in some way. That being said I am increasingly interested in sculpture and object fabrication and I find the idea of visualizing data physically to be very appealing. And finally, coming from a film and video background as well as considering the visual nature of my first tracking interest, I am considering ways in which collecting photos and videos and displaying them in a novel fashion could offer an insight into my data as well.