Lifelogging Products of the Future
For this exhibition I am presenting a collection of fictional products that take a playful (and sometimes silly) look at a possible future of lifelogging. Although each product is presented in a humorous way, as a whole they are intended to ask bigger questions about social data and the lifelogging movement. Questions regarding identity, what more we are prepared to log and share about ourselves, and possible new types of data we are prepared to consume of others.
Karl Toomey is a designer living and working in London. Originally from Dublin, he is primarily interested in the crossover of design, drama and humour. Previous projects of this kind include The Celebrity Scales and Gary Goals. Karl is a founding member of arts group Synth Eastwood and is currently working as an art director with creative platform It's Nice That.
How did you get started lifelogging/analysing data?
Since 2008 I have taken a screengrab of my desktop every Friday so I can see what folders and files I was working on and when. Plus what desktop picture and operating system I was using. There's no real functional need to do this, I just find it strangely comforting (the same reason I collected 4 years worth of DART tickets in shoeboxes when I was in college or took pictures of every house I've ever lived in on Google Street View).
More recently I got a smartphone and am now officially logging things like my cycles, sleep patterns and exercise routines. I guess hard and dry data maybe doesn't have the emotional link the other stuff has for me, but still is very interesting.
Why do you find lifelogging so interesting?
As I mentioned it's maybe about two things. The first is an emotional connection to a moment or time, kind of like leaving breadcrumbs behind as I go about my daily life. The second is a functional reason, that I can improve or change things in my life using empowering insights.
Another area that really interests me is the cross-over between lifelogging and our identities. Especially as more and more people are logging data and sharing information on their social networks. ‘I think therefore I am’ was a statement philosopher Rene Descartes affirmed in 1637. Artist Barbara Kruger updated this to ‘I shop therefore I am’ hinting at the rising link between consumerism and our identities. Today though I think it could be moving towards ‘I log therefore I am’. What we log is becoming a bigger part of our public facing identity.
How do people in your life react when they discover the extent of your lifelogging?
If people can see the positive change lifelogging can have on someone’s life they are immediately interested. As I said lifelogging can really empower people to make brilliant changes in their lives. In general I tend to lifelog information and present it in a playful and accessible way (mostly on my blog).
What's your favourite time of day and why?
After 9 at night. It's quiet and great time to work.
Do you remember the first electronic device you owned?
Yes. A Fisher Price tape recorder, around 1987 or so.
What do you want done with your data after you die?
Save a copy on an external hard-drive and fire into space. Give another copy to science/medicine.
Is there anything about yourself that you would absolutely never like tracked?
Don't think so.
What insights on your life has tracking your data revealed?
Doing a tax return is a form of lifelogging I'm unfortunately familiar with! Going through your yearly bank statements transaction by transaction reveals some big, scary insights about how and where you spent your hard earned money. Recently I've noticed banks are offering this sort of analysis and insight as part of their online banking service. Makes total sense really.
What websites, magazines or other resources inspire, confound, amuse or irritate you?
Websites I regularly check include itsnicethat.com, wired.co.uk, creatorsproject.com, radiolab.org and thisamericanlife.org. I also keep tabs on the artists Daniel Eatock and Lenka Clayton who do really interesting work in relation to lifelogging (although they may not call it that).
What is your go-to piece of tech or software for lifelogging?
I've been using an app called Momento for the past few years. It's a diary app that also logs all your social activity. I find it super interesting to look back and compare what I was saying publicly on social media to what I was saying privately to my personal diary.
We're creating a speculative timeline of the possible future of lifelogging. We're asking everyone to make one prediction for a future date. What's yours? Feel free to think big!
By 2030, I see lifelogged data having a tradable value–it will become a currency (The Life Index?!). 100 winter kilometres walked in Spain will have a value. Four years worth of DART tickets will have a value. 200 hours of logged sleep will have a value. We'll be trading in logged life!