School of Communications and Arts, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Western Australia
The concept of ‘self-tracking’ (also referred to as life-logging, the quantified self, personal analytics and personal informatics) has recently begun to emerge in discussions of ways in which people can voluntarily monitor and record specific features of their lives, often using digital technologies. There is evidence that the personal data that are derived from individuals engaging in such reflexive self-monitoring are now beginning to be used by agencies and organisations beyond the personal and privatised realm. Self-tracking rationales and sites are proliferating. The detail offered by these data on individuals and the growing commodification and commercial value of digital data have led government, managerial and commercial enterprises to explore ways of appropriating self-tracking for their own purposes. In some contexts people are encouraged, ‘nudged’, obliged or coerced into using digital devices to produce personal data which are then used by others. This paper examines these issues, outlining five modes of self-tracking that have emerged: private self-tracking, communal self-tracking, pushed self-tracking, exploited self-tracking and imposed self-tracking. The analysis draws upon theoretical perspectives on concepts of selfhood, citizenship, biopolitics and data practices and assemblages in discussing the wider sociocultural implications of the emergence and development of these modes of self-tracking.