Datarize My Life

My life as a JSON object

May 1st, 2016

Hi, my name’s Andy and I’m a dataholic.

Last.fm music progression
Last.fm music progression

It occurred to me that I may use too many apps. For some reason, I feel the need to obsessively monitor, track and quantify every recordable aspect of my life. I use Swarm/Foursquare to record my locations, Untappd for beer, MyFitnessPal for diet, Places I’ve Pooped for… well, it explains itself, Last.fm for music plays, Fitbit for activity, HabitRPG for my daily tasks, YNAB for my financials and Sleep Cycle for my sleep habits. To name the bigger ones. I even took to creating my own Android app to record gym progress because I was so unsatisfied with existing solutions. I also utilized my obsession during University by centering my dissertation around tracking the moods of sufferers of depression and anxiety, and feeding this data back to their doctor. This worked for me and I finished it with 80%, but that’s besides the point.

I am obsessed.

Untappd Beer consumption
Untappd Beer consumption

I get a kick out of producing reports, graphs, data visualizations and maps because I can say “This is what I look like in numbers. This is what my music tastes look like. This is what my financial report looks like. This is a map of everywhere that I’ve been”. My life as a JSON object.

The nice thing about modern day software is that there’s almost an API for everything. Most of the applications that I use have one, so I utilize them. An example of this is in my about me page where I’ve used the Last.fm API to display my most listened to artists in the last month. It’s pretty awesome! But, obsessions are rarely healthy. Of course, some obsessions are better than others but there’s usually a cost. You can be obsessed with your job, a certain programming language, but there’s usually a trade-off whether if be cutting into time with family or friends, or your mental health. Despite the fact that I’m probably a fraudsters wet dream and arguably easier to ‘clone’ than your average Internet user, I worry more about the direction this is going. This obsession is still in its infancy. It started with only tracking one or two aspects of my life, slowly building up traction over the past two or so years to get to where it is today, and I feel that if I don’t get a handle on things soon it will run away and start to pull me down. I noticed this the other day when I was on my ‘about me’ page and realised that the track I was listening to on YouTube wasn’t being displayed as ‘Currently listening to’. “CRAP! This song isn’t getting recorded to Last.fm!” (the plugin can be flaky with YouTube) as I then spent the next 5 minutes checking if the same track was on Spotify or Soundcloud, so that it may be able to get recorded.

It’s becoming less of a hobby and more of an unhealthy obsession.

Foursquare checkins heat map
Foursquare checkins heat map

There is no AA group for this. Technology moves a lot faster than physical communities and the support network isn’t there. I’m not saying that if it was a thing I would attend regularly, but I’d be lying if I wasn’t curious about others in a similar position. It’s not something that I want to stop doing completely, I just hope that I can get to the stage where if I miss a Foursquare check-in, I won’t think anything of it.

By Smittey
Posted on May 1st, 2016


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