From data fetishism to quantifying selves: Self-tracking practices and the other values of data

From data fetishism to quantifying selves: Self-tracking practices and the other values of data is now online at the New Media & Society webpage. This article, which I wrote with dr. Tamar Sharon is based on our research of the so-called Quantified Self community. The self-trackers who comimage23Dbodyscanprise this movement are often referred to as “data fetishists”, who are drawn to self-tracking because of its perceived power of truth and objectivity. In this article we argue that this understanding is limiting, and show the many different other ways in which members of the Quantified Self ascribe value and meaning to self-tracking practices. The article discusses self-tracking as a practice of mindfulness, as a means of resistance against social norms, and as a communicative and narrative aid. In light of this active engagement with data, we suggest that it makes more sense to view these practitioners as “quantifying selves.” With this article we seek to achieve a fuller understanding of Big Data culture.

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