On The Future of Life Logging — A Speculative View

Alex Martinelli
10 min readMay 2, 2017

This is a light and speculative entry where I brainstorm personal ideas about the future of lifelogging (imminent or sci-fi future, depending on your optimism level). I will focus mainly on the practical aspects of such activity, while largely ignoring ethical, moral and psychological issues. Even if speculative, I tried to include as many “good” references as possible, and I as well hope that ideas here expressed can themselves inspire you or simply give you food for thought.

I will start with a questionable distinction between two otherwise intertwined, blurry-defined movements: quantified-self and life-logging. Both are about pretty much the same main point: the tracking of data related and generated by an individual to improve the life of such individual. The goal of our idealized individual is to collect (or better, have it collected) as much data as possible about its life, while making the best use of it, with the final and indisputable goal of… being better! Better health, better performances, better person, better mood, better potential for the future — everything one cares about, one wants it better! Makes perfect sense to me.

“Quantified-Self is just Data Science… for yourself”

While from one side with quantified-self we have the more common, “traditional” variety of data (heart-rate, sleep, calories, mood), on the other, with life-logging, we have the more controversial entries related to our perception and senses, media like text, audio, video — smell too maybe? — together with other even more peculiar forms of data.

Someone might say that life-logging is really just about collecting data, or that quantified-self is more about numbers, but everything is numbers, and if you collect data is because you want to do something with it (at least that’s the initial good resolution). If you don’t, then the fault it’s of humanity for not giving you good enough tools or motivation, but the initial goal was there: you wanted/hoped to improve your life with data.

Quantified Self (just a brief intro)

I have a Fitbit, and that’s already considered by some as a pretty hardcore device: automatic sleep and heartbeat monitoring using flashing green light? And it shows the time — kind of — when it recognizes that you turned the wrist to check it ?! Astounding!
But then you start reading and chatting around this movement, the…

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Alex Martinelli

Data Scientist @ Zalando Dublin - Machine Learning, Computer Vision and Everything Generative ❤