What is the Quantified Self Community?
  • Xan

What is the Quantified Self Community?



The term "Quantified Self" was coined by former Wired Magazine editors Gary Wolf and Kevin Kelly in 2007 and the Quantified Self movement was born. The movement is about connecting the users and app/device makers who are interested in increasing their self-knowledge through self-tracking. What and how you are tracking is very open-ended and loosely defined by design. Although the "headquarters" of the Quantified Self community is based in San Francisco, they have key collaborators throughout the world.


Show & Tells


One of the fundamental elements of the Quantified Self movement is a Show & Tell. In a Show & Tell, members give a short talk about their self-tracking "project" where they answer three simple questions:

  1. What did you do?

  2. How did you do it?

  3. What did you learn?

Because of the tracking elements of ONTrac, I've tried to participate in as many events as possible so I can better understand what and how people are tracking. With the recent quarantine, many of these Show & Tell's have been virtual which has been a blessing. Because these events would have been held in person in San Francisco and Seattle, I would not have ordinarily been able to attend. Some of the topics that I've been able to enjoy so far include:

  1. One member sharing how their time was spent before and after quarantining for the COVID-19 virus

  2. One member sharing how many of his vital signs changed days before and after getting sick (he was unsure what he had)

  3. One member sharing some of the changes they experienced while they underwent hormone therapy as part of their sex change

I've found it fascinating how people have used the various methods of tracking to gain insights into their own life.


Other Issues


Based on their website, they also are working on larger societal questions. In particular, they have been working with a variety of stakeholders to answer a variety of questions related to personal data including:

  1. How can we improve access to our own data?

  2. How can we share our data in a way that protects our privacy and individual agency?

  3. How can our self-tracking instrumentation, including wearables, analytics platforms, and data stores be better designed to better help us answer a broader range of questions about ourselves?

Get Started


From my experience, the Quantified Self is a community that is open to everyone. If you want to get involved, I might first suggest attending a Quantified Self Show & Tell. Now is a great time to attend as they are almost all virtual, and you're able to meet people from all over the world. You can find them all on Meetup.com. I host one, and our next event is on Thursday, August 13, 2020, at 6 PM EDT. If you'd like to attend, you can RSVP at the Quantified Self Philadelphia Meetup Group. I hope to see you there!


#quantifiedself #lifelogging #selfawareness


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