Accepted paper:

"The self as a laboratory"


Dorthe Kristensen (University of Southern Denmark)
Matthias Bode (University of Southern Denmark)

Paper short abstract:

This paper focuses on the concept of optimization in the area of human life by analysing practices of self-tracking. Through using the metaphor of digital doppelgänger the paper analyses the axis of subjectivity and objectivity that emerges from the processes of self-tracking.

Paper long abstract:

In modern consumer culture the term optimization has been popularized and has entered the microphysics of everyday life; it now also refers to a mode of living, as a strategy of "making the most" of life, on a physical, economic, social, mental and spiritual level (Rose 2007). On this background the aim of this paper is explore the concept of optimization and analyse how the concept that originally emerged from a public and scientific domain increasingly characterize strategies for making the most of life. To this end we explore the optimization of the self in practices of self-tracking (Ruckenstein 2014; Lupton 2014a). The overall methodology of the empirical project involved ethnographic studies of experience and everyday practices from 2012-2016 among member of the Danish Quantified Self, by combining phenomenology (Ipde 2000, Verbeek 2008) and assemblage theory (Marcus and Saka 2006).

The focus in the paper is on the human/technology assemblage, and how it is experienced and practiced. In this context the process of optimization becomes a laboratory of the self which we understand as a as a continuous, dynamic process of negotiating subjective, objective and situational tension, in this case the mutually constitution of a kind of mechanical objectivity and the subjectivity of the self-trackers s (Verbeek 2008).We analyse the interplay between what the data says and what the subject is as part of another constant negotiation of which values are worthwhile optimizing. In this way the values of human life is projected, reinterpreted and turned into lived experience.

panel T102
Everyday analytics: The politics and practices of self-monitoring