So since I am having a difficulty writing about the readings, I decided to write on something I have been thinking critically about (or at least what I call critical thinking!)

For those of you that don’t know, this years CHI student design challenge was regarding Body Data. And thus began a journey filled with hate and loathing. Although, after much thought, I am slightly less hateful towards the idea.

Body data (draw ponies) exactly as the name suggests is data regarding your body (how much sleep, how many steps, etc) collected through specialized devices. It is a growing craze and it’s not all bad, in fact there are positive movements that are coming out from it. What I intend to do in this post is to just share my feelings and thoughts about it. I am aware that I need to do a lot (insert several lot’s) more research, but I wanted to get the ball rolling and get my thoughts a little more structured.

I am mainly interested (at this time) about body data and it’s use in fitness. Devices such as Fitbit and Jawbone, are becoming the new sexy thing to wear! The fact that CHI is putting it out as a challenge also speaks to its growing popularity. I am going to write several different posts to keep it short and more detailed. (also easier to get great critique on!)

I am going to argue different aspects of body data, but it several posts to keep them short and get awesome critique! But for this time, I am going to try and defamiliarize body data to give a new take on body data to try and get the critical thinking going.

Who is body data?

I want to defamiliarize Body Data! I think this is important because body data (the quantified self) is not something we as humans intuitively know (unless you use a device or you are rain man!). For example, without looking at any device, can anyone tell me how many steps you have taken? How about the exact number of hours you have slept? What about the number of rest room breaks you have taken? To be more graphic, tell me the amount of pints you have urinated!What I trying to get to is that without the help of tech, you do not know any of these numbers.

If we think of Body data as a person, he/she is foreign to you. From a different land, speaks a different language, has different cultural practices. In fact, you had no idea this person existed, and more importantly, this person did not directly influence your life in any means. But now, someone gave you a smart phone with his/her number and using google translate, you get to talk to this person. More importantly, he/she advises you and tells you to work out more, walk more, stop eating that junk food, etc.

I know what you are thinking, it is probably something like this “Hoorah! My own personal trainer! This is going to be great.” I am very confident that this is what a lot of people think about when they get their brand new Fitbit for Christmas. Let me ask you this though, if you just met someone randomly and they give you fitness advice, how would you react? Would you trust them? If they sent you a daily warning that you did not walk enough, or drink enough water or that you should not have eaten Thai food for dinner, would you listen to them? Personally, the only health advice I would listen to from a complete stranger would be if they were a fitness trainer! But even then, I would ask for evidence. What I am trying to get to is: a person you did not know yesterday is suddenly dictating directions to you and you are abiding by them.

Would you let a random stranger advise you on your health and abide by them? Maybe some people would, but a certain trust would have to be established with them first right? Like if the person was a fitness trainer, you would be more likely to trust them. So how then is the trust being built between you and body data?

Tell me about your relationship with body data when you don’t have a device to consult!