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QS: From Personal Data to Self-Knowledge

Location: Imperial Ballroom Level: Intermediate
Average rating: ***..
(3.20, 5 ratings)

Mood, diet, exercise, cognition, metabolism, location, menstruation, productivity, if it can be expressed in numbers, it can be tracked. Tracking human behavior used to be a tool for marketers, sociologists, and the police. Now everybody is doing it. But why?

Some tracking is part of a structured effort to change – to lose weight, for instance, or to quit an addiction. But a lot of tracking doesn’t have such clearly defined goals. It is part of a broader quest for self-knowledge. So here’s the question: how can you derive self-knowledge from numbers?

This talk will discuss the advance guard of the self-tracking movement, describing its unexpected history and looking at some curious examples, with a focus on the question of how to get meaning from personal data. People doing their own self-tracking projects are encouraged to attend and raise questions or share advice.

Photo of Gary Wolf

Gary Wolf


Gary Wolf is a writer and contributing editor at Wired magazine, and the author of several books. One of the founding editors at HotWired (later Wired Digital) and Wired News, Wolf is the author of Wired – A Romance; Dumb Money: Adventures of a Day Trader (with Joey Anuff); and Aether Madness.

He received a bachelor’s degree from Reed College in 1983 and a master’s degree in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley in 1986.

Among his many other Wired stories, Wolf is the author of “The Curse of Xanadu,” about Ted Nelson and Project Xanadu, and “The World According to Woz”, about Steve Wozniak.

Wolf lives in San Francisco, California.

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