Building an online self-tracking guide to advance the health and research potential of observations of daily living

The rise of the Quantified Self movement in the United States represents a major transformation that has the potential to impact not only how we understand ourselves, but also how we relate to institutions and professional experts. Members of the Quantified Self community are part of a collaboration of users and tool makers who share an interest in self knowledge through self-tracking. They believe that when people are able to collect their own data, aggregate, and analyze it, they are empowered to make decisions and choices they previously outsourced to others. When applied to health and health care, this theory can empower individuals to be active stakeholders in their own care by enabling them to better understand how their decisions impact their health. This grant will support the creation of an online resource guide for people who are building and using digital tools to track themselves to measure their bodies, habits, emotions and symptoms. The Institute for the Future (IFTF) and Quantified Self will work with self-tracking pioneers to create a guide that assembles many of the tools people are creating, in order to share the evolving strategies of the users with people who are discovering these tools for the first time. According to Pioneer team member and RWJF Assistant Vice President Steve Downs, "The first wave of quantified self practitioners is largely made up of those with the technical skills to build their own self-tracking tools. The next wave will not have those same skills, so it will be important to make available the tools that have already been built and see how they are adopted."

IFTF will also study the dynamics of this shared online resource as it evolves and select a subset of participants for in-depth interviews to understand how knowledge and practice can be transferred from advanced to beginning users. ts for in-depth interviews to understand how knowledge and practice can be transferred from advanced to beginning users.

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Grant Details

Amount Awarded $64,000.00

Awarded on: 12/17/2010

Time frame: 1/1/2011 - 12/31/2011

Grant Number: 68597


Institute for the Future

124 University Avenue, 2nd Floor
Palo Alto, 94301-1634


Alexandra C. Carmichael
Project Director


Gary Wolf
Project Director