I write a lot about self awareness on this blog, because self awareness is such a key component of developing emotional (and social) intelligence. So it was with great interest that I read a New York Times Magaine article a few weeks ago detailing the ways that some people are using computer and internet technology to keep track of their own activities and mood states — in a very, very detailed way.
The article discusses people who use spreadsheets, websites and PDAs to keep track of a wide variety of topics, including clarity of thought, conversations, food eaten, hours spent in sleep, books read, objects purchased, films watched, even the amount of time spent doing a roommate’s dishes. As the article notes, it’s a whole new of using the power of data, quantification, and analysis to understand who we are and what we do. “[A]lmost imperceptibly, numbers are infiltrating the last redoubts of the personal,” writes journalist Gary Wolf. “Sleep, exercise, sex, food, mood, location, alertness, productivity, even spiritual well-being are being tracked and measured, shared and displayed.”
I can tell you right now I’m not the kind of person to turn that kind of numerical lens on my own life or to develop that kind of “personal data project.” But the article provides a fascinating look into the many dimensions we could examine with technology — and the dangers inherent in doing so.
Check it out.