“Monsters of all lands unite!” Michele Bernstein (cited by Mac Kenzie Wark)
Self Quantification and health studies.
Quantified me as a game project : We are all Monsters
The Quantified self movement takes an unexpected amplitude as personal measuring props such as Nike Fuel or Fitbit or Openzeo, are becoming successful commercial endeavors, this success is equally visible by the large number of innovative mobile phone applications also proposed to help people measure and visualize many aspects of their physical behaviors. This changes radically the approach to embodiment and interpersonal relations on the body.
The quantified self movement equally materializes through the rise of social platforms, where people share information about what data to collect or ways to collect and to parse data, and what to do with it; they also question the mere process of quantification and its implications. Finally as it is clear that the rise of personal quantification is setting the space for important collection of health information at the scale of the population, setting new space in the commons for health care, however it seems that the most essential part of the movement seems to be social, as people gather during conferences and social meet-ups. Some issues are referenced on this wiki: quantified issues an overview
Those are very popular because of their online social network platform where people can friend each-other, they can publish their exercise and other data (such as caloric intake) they can check their objectives and compare their success with their friends, they even can make a complete public profile with this data. While this process is called solidarity it is mostly functioning as a very new form of participatory surveillance
We are all monsters then refers to the inherent diversity of our multiple personalities and physical particularities, we all have a little different part, calling it monster is a playful way to valorise our mutual differences in a world where standardisation and normalisation are overwhelming.
This movement of personal quantification is rising precisely at the moment when critical thought is taking form everywhere, examining mostly questions associated to respect of privacy and individual protection into a common and global system and questioning the social changes and new working conditions induced by network usages. Manuel Castells1 already in 1997 explains the transformations in working conditions associated to the existence of a networked society and emphasizes the contextual situation of the “global” worker; in 2004 Mac Kenzie Wark 2 asserts the discrepancies between autonomous culture and the constant commercialization process of our informational structures.
Today in the context of a system constantly under control it seems accurate to ask oneself about the nature of this intimacy sharing, and envision ways to preserve quantified self social platforms as creative and dynamical tools allowing for the exploitation of this biological data as a non exclusive and non categorizing social practices.
We are all monsters aims to treat quantified self data differently. Taking a social perspective on this movement, we want to assess this privacy by allowing for other forms of social interaction with this data. Most of the time the personal sensor data collected by self quantifiers is targeted to health improvement and to reaching a form of bodily perfection. People monitor themselves sometimes for crucial and important conditions such as during the process of chronicle diseases, but many times people collect data while exercising, or looking for the conditions of a good mood, or in the hope of close to perfect sleeping conditions and so on. The movement largely lacks any retrospective thinking on the process leading to self monitoring, it does not question the transformation quantification tools provoke in self perception and no one conducts a reflexion on the normalization effect those practices have as social behaviors.
This workshop aims to introduce some form of imagination and narration into all those measurements, I will propose an interface that allows students to play with their data, to construct narrative and imaginary personalities starting from a set of data. In that purpose I will invite them to interact with a game like environment that will exist as an alternative to data visualization sets, and allow them to build their own character.
The data will then serve to feed a personal character a Tamagochi like personality that would evolve according to the data sent.
Some new rules can be proposed, you could try to recombine one specific personality from a diversity of data.
Each type of personality creates its own mythology, and narrative experiment they then share it with all building blocks related to personal practices you can host imaginary characters or realistic ones, you arrange your material according to the narrative you feel like outputting from this information.
1Castells, Manuel (1996, second edition, 2000). The Rise of the Network Society, The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture Vol. I. Malden, MA; Oxford, UK: Blackwell.
2Mac Kenzie Wark A Hacker Manifesto ; Cambridge (MA), London (UK) ; Havard University Press. (2004)