Discomfort, Trust, and Digital Selves

It’s been awhile. I’ve spent the last four months applying for new jobs, interviewing, getting hired, and moving from the midwest to the bay area. It’s been a long ride (drive, really). I’ve been out here three weeks now, and it still feels strange to call it my new home (new license plates on my car notwithstanding).

I’m a tech writer by trade, as I’ve alluded to/mentioned in the past with my post on Prescriptive Design and the Decline of Manuals, and I’ve so far enjoyed being in an area so tech-focused (though I do worry about the bubble).

Let’s get back into it, shall we?

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Metrication of the Self

A soon-to-emerge recurring theme…

Also referred to as “datafication” by the authors of Big Data: A Revolution that Will Transform how we Live Work and Think, metrication can be defined as beginning to see all aspects of our lives as valuable data points and metrics against which to gauge our worth, success, and productivity, a relatively recent trend. Spurred on by technological advances, new tools of monitoring others such as plug-ins and cookies also allow us to track ourselves. 

Using metrics to evaluate people is not a new concept–from birth we’re monitored against percentile growth charts by pediatricians and our anxious parents; once we’re of schooling age we are monitored and tracked by the government and school districts using grades and standardized testing–reducing our school performance to “valuable” numbers and the odd, coded comment like “works hard in class”. After graduation and/or college, it could be over, but the working world possesses its own set of metrics. At my own job we track all sorts of data related to customer satisfaction, in addition to how quickly and efficiently we serve our users. This is consistently relayed back to us as workers, with the implicit intent of improving those numbers. The higher the better.

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