Russell Davies: You should question who actually owns your Quantified Self

By Russell Davies, campaignlive.co.uk, Thursday, 19 April 2012 08:00AM

I'm writing this first thing on Sunday morning, sitting outside Bar Italia in Soho. I like coming here to do this - it makes me feel like Hemingway. I bet he'd have come here if he'd had the gumption to write a weekly column about media and technology.

Russell Davies: You should question who actually owns your Quantified Self

According to my phone, I weigh five pounds more than I did yesterday, which is depressing. My phone knows this because it's connected to the scales I stepped on about 30 minutes ago when I got out of the shower. My phone also tells me (courtesy of Foursquare) that I've been to Bar Italia 14 times in the past two months and that, excitingly, I'm the Mayor.

In my pocket, my FitBit tells me that I've taken 1,312 steps this morning, which is about a tenth of my daily target. The black band on my wrist disagrees - it says I've only taken 1,031 steps. It also measures something called NikeFuel and informs me that I've acquired 247 of it today, which is, again, about 10 per cent of the target.

Yesterday evening, at about 5pm, my FuelBand told me I'd only done about a third of my daily goal, which was annoying but also expected, since we had mostly been lazing around watching sport on television. So I got my drums out and banged away on them for an hour - that got me back on target.

My phone also tells me that the £2.90 I've just paid for my cappuccino represents an above average transaction cost per unit of caffeine. That's not good. If I keep going that way I'll miss my monthly financial target and my devices will be unhappy with me.

What am I on about? The usual - the interactions between technology and ridiculously self-involved gadget nutters such as me. There's even a name for this kind of personal measurement - the Quantified Self.

It's not new. Google it, and you'll find tons of blogs, sites and the like. The difference is that it used to be hard and expensive. You had to do geeky, difficult stuff to connect your personal monitoring equipment to your devices and social networks. Now, it's not so hard - and it has become cheap thanks to mainstream consumer technology. The fact that we're all carrying powerful, connected computers in our pockets helps, but this is about more than apps. Projects such as the Wi-Fi-connected weighing scales (the brand is Withings) and the Nike FuelBand are putting personal monitoring into the stuff we might buy our parents or kids for Christmas.

This is interesting in and of itself. But it's more interesting because it throws off tons of data. Data that feels like ours, but which is held by brands and businesses that probably think it's theirs. When the Quantified Self meets the Quantifying Corporation, that'll be fascinating.

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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