New Obsession: Tracking Personal Metrics

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I have recently become obsessed with keeping track of things… like, what music I listen to, where I go, and what I do. The main reason is to create an archive, because as much as I would love to have a journal (diary) to look back on, there’s no way I’m going to do it. And so I can piece together an implicit journal by tracking my various activities. One looming project is to come up with a way to collect and browse this data.

For music, I’ve recently started using Last.fm again. Here’s my profile. Last.fm is a social network built around discovering music. It integrates with iTunes to track what songs you listen to, and posts that online for your friends to see. There’s even an application for hacked iPhones that tracks what you listen to on the go. There’s a direct benefit from using this service, and that is music recommendations, which you can play like a radio stream… and rate to improve the suggestions.

To keep track of where I go, I carry a very small GPS datalogger. This device just tracks its location coordinates every few seconds, and I download these files to my Mac frequently. You can view the tracks in Google Earth, which I’m using at the moment as a library for this data. This is cool not only for traveling, but also excercise (biking, running, even skiing).

You can also geotag photos with this GPS device… which will a fun part of browsing this ‘digital diary’. Imagine a globe, maybe in Google Earth, that you could spin around, and zoom in on, that showed every photo you’ve ever taken, right where you took it.

As far as keeping track of what I do, I’m relying on Twitter at the moment. (My page there). The website’s built around answering the question “What are you doing right now?,” as frequently as you wish. It has evolved into more than that, a new global communication platform… but most users still post the interesting things they do each day.

So, imagine all of these things, (location, music, photos, activities), recorded automatically for you, and put into a calendar. Something you can review and browse. Or have it email you a personal, ‘what you did in previous years on this day’ type email. And everything’s on a map. Because you carried your GPS around with you.

Another thing about this ‘digital diary’ is that all the automatic data might be enough to encourage you to add your own additional data… like your weight. Or more exercise details. Or private diary entries.

Would you use something like this?

One thought on “New Obsession: Tracking Personal Metrics

  • I could see something like this being used in businesses as well. For instance take a realtor who travels from house to house, often photographing the house for listings. To have all of the mileage tracked as well as the location of the photos.

    Very cool train of thought, I’d use something like this for sure. Hey, by the way, what GPS datalogger are you using?

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