Self-tracking panel – EASST 2016, Barcelona

conference websiteMembers of the Tracking Ourselves? research team were were involved in convening a conference track at this year’s EASST/4S conference held in Barcelona. The EASST/4S conference is a the 4-yearly conference jointly hosted by the US and European associations for the study of science and technology. Its theme this year was “Science and Technology by Other Means – Exploring collectives, spaces and futures”.

The track, entitled ‘Everyday Analytics’, was organised to address the increasingly pervasive part that self-monitoring plays in contemporary life, entwined in many spheres of the everyday, for example work, health, fitness, energy consumption, or finance. Scroll to the bottom of the post to download a full list of all the speakers who were involved in the panel, and to read their full abstracts.

In a panel on Data, politics, commodification, Chris Till spoke about his recent research into corporate ‘wellness programmes’ that encourage employee self-tracking, focusing in on some of the psychopolitics literature that might help us to understand the logics behind these schemes.

The different panels within the track were thematically organised around the work of a variety of early career and established researchers working in areas as diverse as glucometers and personal genetics, familial practices of monitoring, the Quantified Self movement, and workplace-encouraged tracking schemes.

Kate Weiner and Catherine Will, who are part of the Tracking Ourselves? team, presented some of the interesting preliminary findings of pilot research into blood pressure monitoring in the home. The paper explored some of the ways in which literature from Sociology of Health and Illness, and from Science and Technologies Studies, on ‘care infrastructures’ might help us to understood some of the more material aspects of self-monitoring – for example, how the physical situation of devices are entangled in our identities, and might encourage (or discourage) the sharing of our ‘self’-monitoring devices with family and friends.

In the Temporal and relational aspects of self-tracking panel, Linda Layne shared some of her data from a project she’s undertaken with a single family, trying to trace all the instances of monitoring and analytics that go on in the domestic environment – from multiple-person day planners, to chore management tools. The paper also gave insite into some of the popular literature that encourages the adoption of particularly militaristic practices of people management into contemporary parenting techniques.

A full list of all the speakers and their abstracts can be downloaded here.

The convenors of this EASST/4S track were:

Kate Weiner (University of Sheffield), Catherine Will (University of Sussex), Minna Ruckenstein (Consumer Society Research Centre), Christopher Till (Leeds Beckett University), and Flis Henwood (University of Brighton).