Open Access Senior Thesis
Bachelor of Arts
Science, Technology and Society
Marianne de Laet
© 2015 Lauren M. Rowse
Self-tracking practices are growing in popularity worldwide. From heart-rate monitoring to mood tracking, many believe that wearable technologies are making their users more mindful in exclusively positive ways. However, I will argue that consistent and deliberate self-tracking (with or without portable devices) necessitates a particular understanding of the self with consequences that have yet to be fully explored. Through an analysis of forum posts on a popular self-tracking discussion and informational site, QuantifiedSelf.com, I will claim that self-trackers approach the creation of self-knowledge in a manner that is particular to today’s society. I will discuss how the ubiquitous conflation of numerical identities with objective reasoning feeds into a mindset that supports quantification of the self, and how the views of self exhibited by these self-trackers can be considered a version of creating a “scientific self.” The notion of the scientific self supports both an individual and societal shift in the practice of “being”—a shift that carries with it many possible repercussions that have yet to be widely analyzed. This analysis, I will argue, is key to limiting the destructive potential of understanding people in terms of data, while simultaneously enabling new conceptualizations of self to be practiced in modern society.
Rowse, Lauren M., "Statistics of the Self: Shaping the Self Through Quantified Self-Tracking" (2015). Scripps Senior Theses. 695.