DHIB 2019: Quantified Self

I offered a 10-hour workshop at the Digital Humanities Institute Beirut (DHIB), 4-5 May 2019. It is a miniature version of a course I will be teaching at NYU Abu Dhabi in Fall 2019. The slides are available at Zenodo here.

Brief description: This ten-hour workshop explored elements of the contemporary “quantified self” movement and its claims to “self-knowledge through numbers” focusing on contexts outside of the West/global North. It adopted a data-centered approach to gather, analyze and visualize data about the self in order to evaluate the phenomenon critically.

Preparation for the Workshop: Check out some of the 325(!) “Show and Tell” sessions here.

Requirements: Participants should come with a laptop and a updated smartphone (iOS or Android) with plenty of charge each day.

Outcomes. Participants in this workshop will:

  1. explore basic arguments in the contemporary context of self-tracking and the datafication of human life.
  2. be exposed to relevant issues in information privacy related to device usage and commercial data aggregation.
  3. collect some data about themselves in familiar surroundings
  4. practice data storytelling techniques reusing that data (map visualization, plotting).
  5. discuss to what extent these data reflect their own life experience, or constitute “self-knowledge”.
  6. examine critically the risks and benefits of QS applications for emerging and vulnerable environments.

Breakdown

Saturday 4 May, 0900-1130 — Session 1

  • introduction to quantified self (QS) movement and to its globalization in the public & health sectors.
  • discussion of data privacy, geo-privacy, app gamification.
  • exploration of the data collection capacities of a smartphone / wearable technologies.
  • lunch exercise: observing the data collection apps already on your phone.

Saturday 4 May, 1430-1700 — Session 2

  • exploration of self-tracking apps: their functions, gamified nature, benefits and drawbacks, the exportability of data
  • working with a couple apps to set up (temporal & spatial) data collection exercise for a one day period.

Sunday 5 May, 0900-1130 — Session 3

  • debriefing about data collection: findings and shortcomings.
  • discussion of a few short passages from critical literature on QS and media studies (Maturo/Moretti; Rettberg; Wernimont; Lupton).
  • exporting the data from the apps.
  • presentation of relevant data visualization techniques.
  • lunch exercise: completing your data collection, if you haven’t already at night.

Sunday 5 May, 1430-1700 — Session 4

  • reusing that data for storytelling purposes (map visualization, plotting).
  • wrap up.

For more information, see the bibliography of my forthcoming colloquium as well as the QS bibliography and 325 Show&Tell talks.