Over-the-top quantified self

Chris Dancy likes to track facets of his life. A lot. Above is a bunch of automatically logged data to Google Calendar.

At the moment, he tracks everything he can, even if he doesn’t see an immediate benefit, so long as it’s relatively easy to collect — and he can save the data into Evernote, Google Calendar, and Excel. You never know when something seemingly pointless will come in handy in the future.

“If I’m on a call and my voice gets over 50 decibels, my phone notifies me,” he says. “My heart rate after a conference call usually can give me better insight into the call and my feelings about the call.”

I’m all for personal data, but at some point it’s just too much, and I’m pretty sure Dancy is close to that point, if he hasn’t passed it already. Do you really need an alert that pops up when your voice sounds a certain way? Data can tell you a lot of things, but it doesn’t have to tell you everything. [Thanks, Mat]


  • I don’t know. Pretty much the only way we learn is through feedback, so as long as there really are small costs associated with it all of this data is probably a good thing.

  • Susan Rubinsky February 25, 2013 at 9:08 am

    The more I know, the more I don’t want to know. I like when I look at my Google calendar and see that I’ve forgotten to keep track of what I’ve done for a morning or even a whole day. Life is for living, not tracking.

  • Hi the article is about me. The concept is that we are living in a world where digital work, and existence data could be used for a better quality of life.
    I base this on three areas, QS, Algorithmic Influence and Knowledge Lockers. http://www.slideshare.net/chrisdancy/knowledge-workers-the-reputation-index-economy-v2013-16569083

    I don’t manually collect this data, as you can see in the slides (near the end) i used hyper low friction data collection.

  • I think Chris is on the right track. When was there ever ‘too much data’. Sounds like not enough analysis. The only risk for Chris is that the white lies that lubricate polite society are harder to tell, so this could be a double-edged sword legally. But for Chris’ own consumption, why not? I don’t know how much of my petrol money I spent in the last year just going to the supermarket and back, so I can’t compare delivered to normal grocery shopping particularly well. I bet Chris could.

    • Volume of data is fine. If it takes little to no effort to collect, then go for it. My concern is that because we have data about ourselves, there is a growing need to base every decision or action on a quantitative result. So for me, the “over-the-top” part isn’t the collection itself. It’s the phone notification that goes off whenever there’s excitement and the decision-making and analysis afterwards.

  • I’m just disturbed that he has “Breed” scheduled.