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Tuesday, July 12 • 10:31 - 12:00
Temporalities of Personal Analytics: emerging patterns of engagement with temporal data about the self

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Location: PSH (Professor Stuart Hall Building) - LG01, 
Goldsmiths, University of London, Building 2
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  • Martin Hand, Queen's University, Canada
  • Michelle Gorea, Queen's University, Canada


the proliferation of ‘self-tracking’ devices has become a recent focus of research into ‘everyday’ or ‘personal’ analytics, including historical antecedents (Crawford et al. 2015), implications for citizenship, health and biopolitics (Lupton 2014), self-tracking markets (Pantzar and Ruckenstein 2015), surveillance (Whitson 2013), and the broader ‘quantified self’ movement (Nafus and Sherman 2014). There has been relatively little qualitative analysis of the contexts in which such devices are ordinarily used, how the data is interpreted, used, and shared by individuals, and how such data relates to broader practices of temporal scheduling and coordination in daily life. This paper makes a significant contribution to knowledge, showing how such devices are becoming integrated with established technologies of marking and making time (clocks, calendars), are being used to explicitly manage time, and are ambiently shaping ‘lived time’ in diverse ways (Wajcman 2015). 


The paper aims to provide detailed empirical data on how individuals do and do not adopt self-tracking devices and negotiate their own data in terms of the temporality of personal analytics. Drawing upon in-depth interviews, we show the different ways in which these devices presume, produce, mediate, manage and shape temporal practices. 


The empirical data was gathered over several months as part of a larger SSHRC funded program concerned with the contours of ‘iTime’. The data used here is in-depth interviews (N=30) selected by quota sample to reflect the overall demographic of the university. There are two dimensions to this group being explored. First, multiple device ownership within this demographic is very high, but we know very little about their understanding and management of temporality through digital mediation, and how this relates to the specific expectations of university life, friendships and maintaining a connected presence’ across multiplying social media platforms. Second, approximately half of the sample (N=15) was selected for their ownership and use of wearable fitness applications (i.e. ‘fitbit’). This is a focused effort to understand emerging practices of self-tracking in relation to the production of temporal data about the self. We have rich data on the connections between these practices and the broader expectations within this group. Participants reflected upon their own devices and social media data during interviews. 


Preliminary analysis of our data reveals continuities between existing temporal practices, but also significant novel trajectories encouraging users to (a) rethink and reshape their conception and organization of time (b) share their data across social media platforms to regulate personal time, (c) meet new expectations about temporal management being produced through the tracked data.

Future Work

These findings will enable important insights into the normative temporal expectations of self-tracking devices, and how these are understood and negotiated both through social media and a range of integrative practices. How these devices become elements of people’s media ecologies or ‘manifolds’ is crucial to understanding their relative significance (Couldry 2012). These initial findings will also be revisited alongside interview data (N=100) from other populations being gathered during 2016, concerning differences in socio-economic resources, age, and urban proximity.


Couldry, N (2012). Media, Society, World. Cambridge: Polity.

Crawford, K., Lingel, J., and Karppi, T. (2015). Our metrics, ourselves: A hundred years of self-tracking from the weight scale to the wearable device. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 18 (4-5), 479-496.

Lupton, D. (2014). Quantified Sex: A Critical Analysis of Sexual and Reproductive Self- Tracking Apps. Culture, Health and Sexuality, 17(4), 440–53.

Nafus, D., Sherman, J. (2014). This one does not go up to 11: the Quantified Self movement as an alternative big data practice. International Journal of Communication, 8 (11), 1784-1794.

Pantzar, M., Ruckenstein, M. (2015). The heart of everyday analytics: emotional, material and practical extensions in self-tracking market. Consumption Markets & Culture, 18(1), 92–109. 

Ruckenstein, M. (2014). Visualized and Interacted Life: personal analytics and engagements with data doubles. Societies, 4, 68-84.

Wajcman, J. (2015) Pressed for Time. Chicago: Chicago University Press.

Whitson, J. (2013). Gaming the Quantified Self. Surveillance and Society, 11 (1/2), 163-167. 


Tuesday July 12, 2016 10:31 - 12:00 UTC
PSH (Professor Stuart Hall Building) - LG01 Goldsmiths University, Building 2