Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Blog 16: Self-Tracking-The Good and The Bad

In chapters 1 and 2 of  Self-Tracking by Gina Neff and Dawn Nafus. They push us to begin developing an understanding for what positive and negative effects that self-tracking can have on our everyday lives. Self-tracking can help us with our health issues as we track the amount of exercise we get a day and maintain health goals through tracking. Self-tracking can go even deeper into our bodies with pacemakers and heart trackers that are internally placed in our bodies to look at how fast, slow, or how many times our hearts are beating. These self-tracking devices can save our lives. But, there are aspects of self-tracking and reporting this data that can get a little unethical and cross privacy boundaries. By buying and registering our devices to track our steps and data (ex: iPhones, fitbits, smart watches, etc.) are we allowing these companies to use our data? Do we essentially sign a waiver for them to know every move we make.
These two chapters really made me think about a conspiracy theory I have heard after the boom in personal tracking devices like fitbits a couple years ago. The conspiracy theory was that the government started marketing these devices in a fashionable and popular way. People who were extremely fit wanted one and people who were extremely unfit wanted one and everyone in between. Did we really need them? Or was it the government trying to collect data on where we were going, when we were sleeping, and even who we were taking calls from. Now this may be far fetched, but actually something that is very possible. I don’t think that this is the case with fitbit, but it does make you think about the opportunity there is for someone to track your every move.

For discussion:
  1. Is there any benefit into letting someone track your moves? Is it good for safety?
  2. Is it really unethical for these devices to track and use our data if we agree by registering them?

Neff, G. & Nafus, D. (2016). Self-Tracking. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

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