Between the internet, social media, sensor-enabled devices, and established industrial transactionalsystems, we are living in a world with more data about ourselves than ever before. Public discoursehas largely focused on the opportunities for firms or the risks to individuals as this dataenvironment expands. These framings do not give individuals enough practical understanding of how data impacts and integrates into their lives. The Quantified Self community is an advanced-user community of people who have begun to explore and experiment with novel uses of personaldata. As the Homebrew Computer Club’s hobbyist experimentations paved the way for thepersonal computing revolution, the Quantified Self community offers a glimpse of whatengagement with personal data in our everyday lives might soon look like. Throughethnographically-informed interviews and participant observations, this research explores how self-trackers derive personal meaning from personal data. I present a lifecycle of personal data use: fromdeciding what to track, through collection, analysis, and future uses. I explain how current barriersto use expose the need for revised policies to support individuals’ personal interest in the use of their data. By analyzing the metaphors individuals use to explain their personal uses of data, I putQuantified Self tracking practices in historical context and illuminate the novel affordances thatself-knowledge through data provides. I argue the QS community offers ways of framing andengaging with personal data in our everyday lives that can help society at large begin to understandour roles as data selves in a Big Data world.
: personal data, quantified self, self-tracking, use, everyday life, conceptualmetaphors, data lifecycle, data self, Big Data