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radical imperfection in self tracking

DIFFICULT DATA, HUMAN EXPERIENCE, AND THE QUANTIFIED SELF

How can we create sustainable, transformative, systematic self-reflection practices?

• 3. November - 1. December 2020
• Online!
• Five-weeks, Tuesdays, 7-9PM CET
• Small class of participants


Pricing (For tickets click here)
Artist / Student (Full Time)*
€165

Freelancer*
€185

Professional*
€205

Generous Supporter Ticket*
€245

Solidarity ticket*
Donation (Limited)


course
description

Do you know how many steps you walked yesterday? How long you looked at your phone last week? How many books you read last year? What information do you collect about yourself, in order to understand yourself better - and does it feel effective and sustainable? Voluntary data tracking, although it has potential for exploitation and betrayal, can be used to deepen the understand of oneself in nearly every aspect of life [1]. The increasingly wide range of hardware and software allows this pervasive data to become “a ‘prosthetic of feeling,’ something to help us sense our bodies or the world around us” [2]. It is not just the sensors and processors; the manner of thinking that comes with self-tracking can also be applied to qualitative, “analog” systematic self-reflection, as it is in [3].

In March 2020, as one way of expressing some degree of control in an uncontrollable situation, many people experimented with new habits and with new ways of monitoring themselves. At the beginning of every new year, some version of this invigorated self-reflection and self-improvement wave swells, and then disappears in a few months. In practice, even with great motivation and commitment, is very difficult to establish sustainable, transformative practices. When it comes to systematic self-reflection, or self-tracking, one of the challenges is difficult data: missing, unreliable or changing, or uncomfortable. Facing this challenge together is the aim of this course.

This course is a practice-based investigation of difficult self-tracking data: we accept that data from any one source is imperfect, and work instead on combining data sources and constructing personal, deep self-observation practices.Each class session will include review of key concepts from current socio-technical systems research on the subject, and include sharing of personal experiences with weekly self-tracking assignments. The middle three weeks will focus on one of three subjects: sleep, movement, and mood. Over the five weeks, every participant can work on a larger project, focusing on tracking one particular aspect of their lives through a variety of approaches.

Lecture materials will draw from current scientific research on self-tracking approaches in human-computer interaction (HCI) as well as from these books:

1. Deborah Lupton, “Quantified Self” (podcast episode interview, where the author summarizes the book: https://newbooksnetwork.com/deborah-lupton-the-quantified-self-polity-2016/)

2. Gina Neff and Dawn Nafus, “Self-Tracking”

3. Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec, “Observe, Collect, Draw!” (you can search for #deardata on Instagram to see how people engage with this practice-based book)


course outline

Week 1: Introductions to each other and to difficult data

In this first class, there will be introductions of who we all are but also discussions regarding expectations and what you hope to gain from the class. In the second half of the class, we will introduce the different kinds of difficult data and discuss strategies on working with it. Topics around difficult data include when data is missing or elusive; when it is qualitative or changing concept that refuses to be usefully quantified; when it it coercive or uncomfortable. We will also share our experiences and motivations in self-tracking, setting the tone for the rest of the course.

Week 2: Sleep

In week two we will discuss sleep tracking and passive vs active data collection, as well as the variety of motivations and interventions connected to sleep tracking.

Week 3: Movement

In week three we will build on the model of active/passive data collection and consider how movement tracking relates to habit formation.

Week 4: Mood

In week four we will use mood and emotion to dive deeper into the quantification of qualitative experience: challenges, motivations, and strategies.

Week 5: Final Project Showcase

In this final week each participant will have time to present their project, focusing on tracking one particular aspect of their lives through a variety of approaches.


who is this
class for?

This class is for anyone tracking personal data (whether digital or analog) or those who would like to. If you do any form of systematic self-reflection, like keeping a journal/diary, and are curious about this from a data-tracking perspective or if you simply feel curious and/or critical about any of these subjects, come join us. Enthusiastic like-minded community included. No experience necessary.


about live classes

Classes are 'live' meaning that you can directly interact with the instructor as well as with the other participants from around the world. Classes will also be recorded for playback in case you are unable to attend for any reason. That said, we kindly ask that you please only purchase a ticket if you plan to attend regularly. For specific questions, please email us and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.


about fees

We realise we're living in uncertain times. We are a small organisation with no outside funding and like many, we are also in survival mode. During this time, we are offering a limited number of pay-what-you-can solidarity tickets for this online class. Preference is given to women, POC, LGBTQ+ and persons from underrepresented communities in tech who would otherwise be unable to attend. We are greatly appreciative of your understanding and support.


about tickets

Tickets for this class are currently available via Eventbrite. If you would like to avoid Eventbrite fees, please email us for direct payment options. We kindly ask that all “pay-what-you-can” students register through Eventbrite. Due to reduced staffing, we’re unable to handle specific payment requests for these registrations.


meet the
instructor