When San Francisco couple Brynn Evans and Chris Messina heard of a new Web site called BedPost, they registered an account before the site was even out of beta. BedPost was created to map users’ sex lives online — everything from partner to duration of the encounter to descriptive words, which could later be viewed as a tag cloud….After all, they already use project-management site Basecamp to chart the nonsexual parts of their relationship.
They use location tracker BrightKite.com to study where they’ve been.
They track their driving habits on MyMileMarker.com, their listening habits on Last.fm, and their Web-surfing habits, to the minute, on RescueTime.com.
“Brynn uses a service to track her menstruation,” says Messina helpfully. (Two of them, in fact: MyMonthlyCycles.com and Mon.thly.info). Some of these trackings are visible to other people, but mostly the couple monitors the information just for themselves.
Before BedPost, they’d been using an Excel spreadsheet to track each interlude since the beginning of their six-month relationship, though they found the interface limiting. They saw BedPost and thought, “Oh, look, this guy’s doing this, too, and he’s actually making plots of it. Plotting was cool,” says Evans.
Messina and Evans prefer the term “data junkies,” spoken with the self-effacing self-awareness that comes from months of meticulous self-study.
Self-trackers like Messina and Evans could spend hours online, charting, analyzing, tracking. Life as a series of pure, distilled data points, up for interpretation.
It’s not about tracking what you do, they say. It’s about learning who you are.
In San Diego, statistics student David Horn already belongs to BrightKite, Last.fm and Wakoopa.com, which tracks his Internet usage. He’s also experimented with Fitday.com to map food intake and calorie expenditure…Horn is working with his engineer girlfriend, Lisa Brewster, to develop an all-encompassing life tracker, under the working title of “I Did Stuff.”
“I’d like to track the people I talk to,” says Brewster, “and how inspired I am six hours later. And definitely location history — where I am, what time — ”
“Correlated with weather history,” interjects Horn. “And allergy data, pollen and mold in the air.”
Plus, “Web sites I read and their effect,” says Brewster.
These ideas are the types of heady possibilities that will be discussed by the members of a new group in San Francisco called Quantified Self. Members plan to meet monthly to share with one another the tools and sites they’ve found helpful on their individual paths to self-digitization. Topics include, according to the group invite: behavior monitoring, location tracking, digitizing body info and non-invasive probes.
And on it goes.