Missing Pieces

Mar 29, 2012

Leave it to Robert Krulwich to bring us back to life in the world of personal data. In reference to Stephen Wolfram’s dive into emails, keystrokes, meetings, and phone calls:

“It’s amazing how much it’s possible to figure out by analyzing the various kinds of data I’ve kept,” Stephen Wolfram says. To which I say, “I’m looking at your data, and you know what’s amazing to me? How much of you is missing.”

This is the bit I struggle with when it comes to the whole quantified self thing. There are lot of people who collect data about themselves, and it’s all about optimization and trying to “fix” something. I’m more interested in how personal data collection relates to say, keeping a journal or scrapbooking. In this sense, it’s not about how much of your life is missing in your personal data stream. Instead it’s about how data can help you fill in the gaps.

By the way, if you’re not listening to Krulwich’s show slash podcast Radiolab, who he co-hosts with Jad Abumrad, you’re missing out on some fine storytelling.

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