Bristol Interaction Group

Fitter, Happier, More Productive?: What to ask of a data-driven life?

Our lives are increasingly suffused with data, and a ‘data-driven life’ is frequently presented as an aspiration and panacea. In this talk, I will present three recent projects which aim to expand how we think and talk about the role of data in our lives. In particular, I’ll argue that designing for ‘lived informatics’ (Rooskby et al., 2014) should not only recognize that self-tracking takes place over a range of lived activities; it should also question what aspects of lived experience personal informatics can really address, and the implications of a data-driven life for how we experience the world.

I’ll talk first about my fieldwork of a ‘quantified past’ – speaking to long-term users of personal informatics tools and journaling apps. I’ll then introduce the Metadating project where we invited participants to ‘date with data’, as a means to understand the talk and social life of data.

Chris Elsden is an interaction design researcher and final year PhD student at Open Lab, Newcastle University. With a background in sociology, his research investigates the lived experience of a data-driven life, through diverse, qualitative and idiographic fieldwork with self-trackers and personal informatics systems. His thesis is focused on the experience of remembering, to question long-term and future interactions with self-tracking data, which he has termed a ‘quantified past’. Chris has related research interests in speculative methods, temporality, work-place metrics, data visualisation and digital possessions. 

You can find out more about Chris, his research and pre-prints of upcoming CHI publications at his website: