Keeping Track

14 April 2010 at 10:10 am Leave a comment

Eloise Keightley writes:

The industry for personal informatics is certainly one to watch. There’s even been talk of a ‘movement’ and unsurprisingly, the iPhone has spawned a host of personal informatics applications. These applications are tantamount to an omphaloskeptics’s dream: pretty much any variable of life can be tracked to the most granular degree. Users of personal informatics sites can log everything from vegetables consumed and number of migraines suffered to variations in mood and their feelings about particular places.

Perhaps evidence that consumers are seeking certainty in these uncertain times, the sheer number and variety of personal informatics applications suggests not only a rising interest in self-analysis (or an increasingly narcissistic society) but a desire for more control over one’s personal life. For starters, these tools help you to learn from the past and plan for the future – if you ate too many calories this week, you know exactly how many to remove from your diet next week. However, much of the allure of personal informatics lies in the visualisations these sites can produce with the raw data. Sites such as your.flowingdata.com allow users to create custom visualisation pages for what they’re most interested in and encourage you to ‘play’ with the data.

In theory, brands could have an enormous pool of data at their disposal should these tools become mainstream enough to attract sufficient users. While many personal data tracking accounts monitor health and leisure habits, many others track brand usage, product usage and attitudes towards brands. Personal informatics could help brands spot emerging competitors faster and track whims and fads with more agility than conventional methods. However, criticism of social networking sites that have deployed their members’ data for commercial gain mean that brands need to tread carefully: an assumption that you own the data simply because it is publicly available is imprudent.

On the other hand, brands are beginning to wake up to the potential of incorporating personal informatics into their business propositions – most notably Nike, through its joint venture with Apple and a handful of health clubs to produce the Nike + iPod package. It’ll be interesting to see how others follow suit.

The above image comes from Mapmaker, a user of the Mycrocosm personal informatics website, and is reproduced here with thanks.

Entry filed under: brands, consumers, digital, identity, self-improvement, trends. Tags: , , , , .

Advertising evaluation en masse Barefoot running

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


The Futures Company blog

The Futures Company was created through the merger of Henley Centre HeadlightVision and Yankelovich in 2008. This is the blog of the new company - but the former posts from the former Henley Centre Headlightvision blog still can be found here.


WPP? Leaders in Advertising,Branding,Marketing

%d bloggers like this: