The Quantified Self phenomenon

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“Quantified self” seems to be still quite unknown from most people. Nevertheless, it has been often commented on the web and people’s interest for the phenomenon is increasing. It is also known as “self-tracking” or “body-hacking”. But what is it ? Let’s put it like this : it’s a way of measuring our bodies (and soul). And of course, the possibility of sharing the data with others, because who would not be interested by our heartbeats on our daily jog?

Source: mysecurite.com

Why is this useful you wonder?

The people who use this type of technology believe that it is a way of improving their daily lives. For instance, if you do a lot of exercise, using these devices will help you keep a track of your improvements, hence getting physically better at what you do. Some apps can also measure and find out why you don’t sleep good at night by comparing the different type of information you have given ( such as diet, health supplements, exercise and alcohol consumption). But the real use of such a technology resides in the fact that it has a medical benefit:   new technologies make it simpler than ever to gather and analyze personal data, making it easier to keep a track of certain diseases for example.

What are the existing ways that allow to measure this type of information ?

First of all, the website http://quantifiedself.com/guide/ is the key to finding all sorts of apps that will allow you to measure your : happiness, fitness skills, share your medical experiences, etc.For example, Fitbit is a small device used to track your physical activity, sleep, what you eat, other exercises that you do, and your weight. The data collected is automatically synched online and once uploaded, you can see the results on the website.

Self-tracking and the protection of personal data paradox

What surprises me is that in order to have access to your own personal body information you have to upload that information, which means that it’s out in the wild and exposed to many risks of data stealing, hacking, …. On this matter, the “CNIL” (French data protection authority) has even given advice on how to protect your informationas much as possible. What is more, most users don’t read the “privacy policy” which often stipulates that under certain circumstances, the personal data might be shared with certain third parties. On the one hand people are frightened by all the information the Internet holds, but on the other hand they nourish the famous “Big Brother” aspect of Internet by using such devices.

 

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