There’s a quiet revolution that’s moving metrics mainstream. Many brands count on it. We step on scales to monitor our weight and now also measure with smartphones, apps and apparel, disparate, yet quantifiable, aspects of our personal self to create a mosaic of metrics and meaning. Miles logged, calories burned, money saved and spent, dinners eaten, microbrewed beers consumed and destinations accomplished are just a few examples of self-tracking.
Considered more of a movement than just defining terminology, the “quantified self,” according to Wikipedia, “incorporates technology into data acquisition on aspects of a person’s daily life." “Quantified self” was first coined byWired editor Gary Wolf in 2007, who shared in a recent TED talk that “the self is just our operation center, our consciousness, our moral compass. So, if we want to act more effectively in the world, we have to get to know ourselves better.”
In a recent Harvard Business Review article, “You, By the Numbers: Better Performance By Self-Quantification,” author and senior researcher James Wilson shared that “applied the right way, auto-analytics can provide hard evidence in situations where traditionally we’ve relied on intuition and anecdotal feedback. Quantifying yourself is a revelatory experience—and perhaps the best thing you can do to improve your career and your life.”
MIT professor Deb Roy stated in an NPR podcast on the personal data revolution, “The idea is this: As our world becomes increasingly instrumented and we have the capabilities to collect and connect the dots, it’s like building a microscope or a telescope and revealing new structures about our own behavior around communication. And, I think the implications here are profound, whether it’s for science, for commerce, for government, or perhaps most of all, for us as individuals.”
Tim Chang, managing director of Mayfield Fund, shared in a recent Tech Crunch article: “This goes way beyond health and fitness. Though the quantified self’s roots are in ‘life hacking,’” Chang holds that the notion of quantified self will eventually include nearly everything that people do. "It’s about your consumer habits all throughout your day, from what sites you surf, what you buy, to what you like to brag about on your Facebook and Twitter.”
Here are four key takeaways toward utilizing the quantified self in branding efforts: