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This is why some people are obsessed with tracking themselves

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People who identify with the “Quantified Self movement” are, as expressed in the movement’s motto, seeking “self-knowledge through self-tracking.” They want to know how to sleep better, stay fit, or have a more productive morning. They do this by keeping count of how many times they roll over in the night, how many steps they take in the day, or how many emails they respond to in a week.

At their informal gatherings, known as “Show & Tells,” participants speak to three questions: What did you do? How did you do it? And what did you learn?

At the inaugural Quantified Self Show & Tell, in Pacifica, California, in 2008, the first presenter was unsure about what he had learned. As Quantified Self cofounder Gary Wolf wrote on the following day, the presenter “had a beautiful graph of his work, sleep and other activity, based on data he had been tracking for three years. And he was at the meeting to get ideas about how to extract more meaning out of it.”

“Meaning” can mean a few things.

Among those at the first Show & Tell, there was a focus on utility: how to make the data meaningful toward some useful end.

But, for some, the practice of self-tracking is compelling in and of itself. As Wolf himself confessed, “The utility of self-tracking in achieving some specified goal doesn’t fully explain its fascination. There’s a compulsion, a curiosity,........

© Fast Company