Failing by Design: Self-Tracking and the Failed Individual

James Dyer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Self-tracking most notably emerged over the last century (Crawford et al. 2015). To self-track is to record life activities, encoding them into a series of quantified variables–or what has been called “health” and “lifestyle” data (Whooley et al. 2014, 153). Commonly, this is practiced with wearable de- vices, such as wristbands (FitBit), necklaces (Misfit), pendants, and badges (Narrative Clip), which are tethered to smartphones and personal computers. Through these devices, a meal is measured by its calorific quantity, a heartbeat measured by its rate, and sitting at a desk is rendered the calculable accumulation of inactivity. Yet, this perspective on health and lifestyle is not particularly new. Defining food as energy, knowing the importance of a regular heart rate and the value of exercise are staple points of advice in general medical practice. However, these are no longer exclusively “medical␣ perceptions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Failed Individual
Subtitle of host publicationAmid Exclusion, Resistance, and the Pleasure of Non-Conformity
EditorsKatharina Motyl, Regina Schober
Place of PublicationFrankfurt
PublisherCampus Verlag
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)9783593507828
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jun 2018


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