The standard textbook definition of lifelogging would be to document aspects of our lives: record various parameters and stats and then analyse them later to make any sense of the data. Lifelogging in turn makes way for the Quantified Self, which implies a quantified lifestyle.
All this might seem confusing for newbies to the concept. But what if we told you that you’ve been lifelogging all this while, and you didn’t even realise it?
With the advent of microblogging and social networks, along with other concepts such as geo check-ins and the more recent live streaming, we’re now in an age where a nearly complete lifelog can be built online, right from the most visited websites on your browser and the most used apps on your phone.
And this shall be the focal point of this article. With people running after journalling applications and specialised hardware, we often forget the most basic form of lifelogging – the one through social networks.
TWEET TWEET, CHIRP CHIRP
If there’s one thing social networks have been most influential at – besides connecting your loved ones, of course – it is the urge to share information. Social network users have this innate need to let people know what they are up to; an action that was once one-to-one has now become one-to-many, with high engagement leading to more interest levels.
The other side of the coin comes in showing interest on what someone else is up to. Probably the best scenario would have to be the lives of celebrities, athletes and professional sport players and politicians. In fact, Google trends have specific categories, just for the most googled people.
What are the common factors, you ask?
One, people are interested in sharing / knowing. Engagement levels are therefore high.
And Two, people are lifelogging.
A simple concept of sharing has been at the helm of affairs at Twitter and Facebook. Tweets and status updates gather a lot of attention. We’re broadcasting information about our lives, documenting significant events. And isn’t that the essence of lifelogging?
MIX IT UP
So the previous section spoke about mainly textual content – tweets and status updates of the days of yore were mainly limited to simple sentences.
With time, social networks began mixing things up. Taking Facebook for instance, people can share emotions as the first phrases of their statuses. For example, a status saying “Lifelogging right now!” can be converted to “Feeling positive- Lifelogging right now!”
Now why is this significant? Besides the status itself, a new dimension is added to the equation – that of emotions. We’ve spoken about mood tracking before, so things like adding emotions to statuses can be a part of mood tracking as well. Perhaps the next feature in Facebook would be to filter statuses based on emotions?
Images have been the driving force behind the popularisation of apps such as Instagram. Taking photos of special moments, events and locations and sharing them on social media is a form of lifelogging as well. The Memoto camera, for instance, takes photographs at short intervals and documents them.
And finally, there’s the concept of geo check-ins. Foursquare and Swarm have been big in this regard, with Facebook cutting it close in the race. In March, Swarm updated their application with a new feature – people who have checked in to places and competed with friends can now analyse the data in the form of pie charts and data visualisations such as check-in maps.
This isn’t entirely dissimilar to Instagram’s own photo map feature, which shows the places you’ve taken photos at. The takeaway point from the concept of geo check-ins is that sharing the locations you’ve visited, and then analysing them later, is a form of effective lifelogging.
Throw a little bit of context into the equation, and you’ve got yourself an almost effortless mode of lifelogging through geo locations and check-ins. Our app Instant does that for you, you can read more about it here.
WE’RE GOING LIVE!
Livestreaming caught on pretty early actually, and it’s only getting started on Facebook. Going live implies enhanced levels of interaction and crowd engagement. The video and the responses therein are stored on the user’s profile, so referencing it later is automatically simplified.
Startups such as Periscope and Meerkat have grown because of livestreaming content, besides social graph politics, of course. Is it a form of lifelogging? Absolutely! Popularised at events such as SXSW, Coachella or even Tomorrowland, livestreaming content to social feeds is doing two things:
One, improving engagement levels from the audience.
Two, and you saw this coming, lifelogging for the future.
Lifelogging isn’t complete without allowing the user to view the content shared on social networks. And that’s when contextual features – such as showing popular content from the user’s share history, or even analysing the data – comes into play.
Analysing the data can have multiple forms. Curated lists that use Twitter and Facebook APIs are used, which show things such as where you’ve tweeted the most, to which words you’ve used most often. If you’re a page owner on Facebook, you can do a deeper analysis of how the audience is engaging with the content.
The simplest example of showing old content would have to be Facebook’s feature to show memories for particular day, from a different year. It helps people recall memories which might have some emotional significance for them. Graduation photos, wedding albums, a party with loved ones – the scope is pretty much endless. And it all begins with lifelogging.
I’ve met quite a few people who are apprehensive of getting into lifelogging, mainly because they would have to invest time, effort and money in the various building blocks. But that’s not always true, since lifelogging can be done effectively and efficiently via social networks as well.
However, all that being said, there’s always the need of a balance between the information that needs to be shared, and the information that is actually shared. Saga withdrew its social media integration for this simple reason – the information was simply too easy to access.
The underlying point to keep in mind? Privacy of information should be on the table, along with the memories of course.
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