Nivedit Majumdar Nivedit Majumdar

Self Awareness Experiments: Lifelogging is the new Mirror Test

The Quantified Self Movement has one underlying purpose: to track and monitor the daily events and activities being performed by the user. A similar (and often connected) terminology in this effect is the concept of Lifelogging, which involves building up a roster of daily activities and then compiling them into quantifiable information.

A newbie to this concept might ask: What is the need of Lifelogging? Well, to put it simply, to improve one’s habits and activities, it is imperative to understand the daily routine being followed presently, so that conclusions may be drawn and the results obtained can be used as guidelines for the future. It is a brilliant tool for lifestyle awareness.

More than lifestyle awareness, Lifelogging enables a person to be self aware in a way, and in this article I’ll be talking about just that: How Lifelogging is an advanced concept of the Mirror Test.

WHAT’S THE MIRROR TEST?

At the outset, this test is used for non-human living beings and human babies (termed as the rouge test), so one might say that it shouldn’t be compared with Lifelogging. However, the basic fundamental is the same in both cases, and hence it’s a relevant term in this regard.

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According to Wikipedia, the mirror test, sometimes called the mark test or the mirror self-recognition test (MSR), is a behavioural technique developed in 1970 by psychologist Gordon Gallup Jr. to determine whether a non-human animal possesses the ability of self-recognition. Similar observations are used as an indicator of entrance to the mirror stage by human children in developmental psychology.

This test is a valuable indicator to the concept of self awareness. The results of the mirror test have shown that animals too have a certain level of self awareness. Humans can actually use this fact to record data to improve the level of self awareness, and this process – yep, Lifelogging – can actually help better one’s life.

TOOLS FOR LIFELOGGING

To improve self awareness through lifelogging, certain tools are required. Earlier, it used to be limited to a simple pen and paper to record data, but with the advent of technology, specially in the sector of sensors and compact, power efficient wearables, the outreach of Lifelogging has extended beyond quite a few demarcations.

Sensors are everywhere: from the phone, to the wearable. New technology advancements are actually incorporating sensors within pillows and mattresses (for a more personal sleep measurement system) and in fabrics too. The latter was a technology spoken recently at the Google I/O Keynote, wherein Project Jacquard might just be the first step of fusing sensors and clothes together. This is all the more evident from the projected market value for wearables as a whole.

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(Data Source: Statista)

Besides the presence of big corporations in this arena, there’s also the sheer number of Kickstarter projects that promise bringing in more efficient Lifelogging devices into the mainstream consumer market: from portable cameras that take thousands of pictures everyday, to recorder clips, to even monitors. All in all, the market for Lifelogging tools is a booming one.

KEY EXAMPLES OF SUCCESSFUL EXPERIMENTS

Prominent in the arena of Lifelogging is Nicholas Felton. He’s renowned for recording various aspects of his life and compiling them in the form of complex (and informative) data graphs. For an outsider, it’s nothing short of brilliance. But imagine the impact from the user’s perspective, and you’ll see a plethora of information at your fingertips.

Here’s an image of the recordings for Nicholas’ communication data. More such graphs, and his biodata, are available here.

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(Image Source: Feltron.com)

 

Another key example is the ‘most connected man in the world’. Chris Dancy has a multitude of monitoring devices at his disposal, which constantly record data and build graphs. It has improved his life, and the results are quite literally on paper!

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(Image Source: Mashable’s article on Chris Dancy)

You can learn more about Chris Dancy and his lifestyle routines here.

IS IT WORTH IT?

The million dollar question. Personally, I’d say yes, but only if you can utilise the information to your advantage. The sensors, processing algorithms and connected devices can only bring you this far: monitoring and keeping a roster of your statistics. The way you use it, to your advantage, that is the ultimate evaluation factor.

Knowledge is power. What you do with the knowledge, is all upto you. Without a doubt, lifelogging is a great way of bringing in the knowledge of self awareness to you!

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