Felix Krause tracks many metrics of his life, both manually and passively, and put the data in one database. He put up a subset of the data on an updating site that shows where he is, what he’s eaten, how he’s feeling, the time he spent on the computer, and plenty more. After three years, he concluded it was not worth the time:
Overall, having spent a significant amount of time building this project, scaling it up to the size it’s at now, as well as analysing the data, the main conclusion is that it is not worth building your own solution, and investing this much time. When I first started building this project 3 years ago, I expected to learn way more surprising and interesting facts. There were some, and it’s super interesting to look through those graphs, however retrospectively, it did not justify the hundreds of hours I invested in this project.
It’s interesting to see people independently come to this conclusion over the years. With the quantified self stuff, people often expect that culling data about your activities and behaviors will result in rich, unexpected insights. But unless you’re actively trying to answer a question or working towards a milestone, usually you won’t get much out of the collection process.
It’s a similar sentiment around “let the data speak” with visualization. You have to actively look at and translate the data.
But personal data collection as a form of reflection or journaling? That’s a different story.