The Quantified Self: How Individual ‘Big Data’ Can Improve Your Life

The Marketing industry has always been obsessed with measuring “the consumer”. From questionnaires and consumer panels, to movement sensors in retail stores, marketing research teams are constantly looking for new ways to quickly gather data about consumer behavior. However, for the first time in history, consumers are voluntarily measuring themselves and generating huge amounts of first-hand, reliable and extremely granular information about their behavior.

“Quantified Self” Movement – Tracking Every Moment

“Quantified Self” is a movement that incorporates technology into data acquisition on different aspects of a person’s daily life. Initiated in 2007, by Wired Magazine editors Gary Wolf and Kevin Kelly, the movement has grown to include 18,652 members in 31 countries, who share an interest in self knowledge through tracking and recording every nuance of their lives, from the number of bites they take while eating to the type of brain wave patterns that occur while sleeping, and everything else in between.

It’s not that self-curiosity did not exist before, but that tracking our daily activities has become much easier. Over ten years ago, before iPhones and other affordable tracking devices existed, we would have needed to consult expert researchers with large budgets and dedicated resources to collect this type of data. However, the available technology today has turned self-tracking into a quick and effortless process for any individual who wants to learn more about themselves. Some examples of this technology include Motion sensors from FitBit and Jawbone, providing data about your daily activities and sleep patterns; and LUMOback, telling you when you are slouching so you can improve your posture. Likewise, our phones, full of helpful apps, have become platforms for active tracking of data about where we are (via Foursquare), what we are wearing (via Stylitics), and what we are eating (via Calorific), even drilling down to the number of bites we are taking at each meal (via 80 bites). In fact, even if you are not consciously tracking activities through downloaded applications, your social media activity is constantly collecting and updating an invisible track of your behavioral data, and your smartphone is collecting data about your location without any of your input.

How Can You Act on All of this Self-Data?

The most interesting part about all of this self-data is, of course, crunching it to discover new and interesting things about ourselves. How does coffee correlate with productivity? Do stressful days indicate high chocolate and junk food consumption? Would your smart phone be able to tell you when you are getting sick by analyzing your voice tones during phone calls? In fact, it is possible that with so much information readily available at our fingertips, self-tracking could become mandatory and not voluntary. If this was the case, we would be personally responsible for monitoring our own health, productivity and mood.
Whether you consider the “Quantified Self” movement as a self-obsession or just a natural footprint of technology on our everyday lives, it is hard to deny that we will soon know more about ourselves than we ever thought was possible. The movement also entails more and better quality data sources for marketing research, leading to the anticipation of interesting discoveries about consumer behavior. Ultimately, the main implication of self-hacking is life improvement.

About Data Management Group

The Data Management Group centralizes and manages local and global media data to allow for brand ingestation. They help marketers make the right data choices for clients at any stage of their business lifecycle.

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