Embodyment of data

I am a researcher of design theory and philosophy of technology in Japan. This is my first post. I am interested in investigating the possibility that vital data can be internalized and embodied by technologies of the quantified self.
For example, as a result of taking the temperatures of my three children daily for covid-19, the temperatures taken by my hands became more accurate than the readings on the thermometer. I can tell the numbers from the warmth I feel in my hands. If you know of any previous research on such internalization or embodiment of quantified data, please let me know.

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This is an excellent topic. I’m not surprised by what you report about your own experience of embodied knowledge. I’ve heard other people describe this effect and I’ve experienced it too. For instance, I tracked my tremor using a somewhat elaborate process using the accelerometer on my phone and an analytical notebook that reported the strength of the tremor based on vibrations within a certain frequency range. I also recorded a subjective “tremory” score that reflected my subjective sense of vulnerability to tremor. Over time, I was able to assess my own vulnerability to tremor more accurately. I believe this is an example of learning/training my judgment based on feedback. I think it would be hard to use my existing data as evidence for the effect you’re studying, my records aren’t very well organized. But it strikes me as possible to research this through direct experimentation, and I’d be glad to participate if that’s the approach you decide to take.

Thank you very much. I am very happy to hear that.In Japan, there is no community of quantified self, so I’m happy to be able to discuss things like this. Your example of tremor is also very interesting.

I’ve heard that Kevin Kelly used to wear a device on his belt that vibrated when he faced north, and after a while, he could tell if he was facing north even though he wasn’t wearing the device.I think this is very Amazing. I would like to collect such cases.

In any case, do you know of any papers or materials that summarize these cases?

Hi @Tomoki_Nanasawa

In any case, do you know of any papers or materials that summarize these cases?

You may find useful case studies in Jer Thorp’s book: Living in Data . His previous projects (both art and science) provide a broader perspective on the idea of internalizing data.


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Thanks for the suggestion for Thorp’s book, it looks very interesting; I just got a Kindle sample to read.

@Tomoki_Nanasawa I don’t know of any published research on this topic specifically related to self-tracking, but I do think it is part of a larger research domain, with some interest from people doing sports performance coaching. Here is a review article on “vibrotactile feedback” that is loosely related to the kind of feedback system Kevin Kelly wrote about: https://bmjopensem.bmj.com/content/bmjosem/3/1/e000216.full.pdf

Here is an article from Wired that speculates about the future of such systems, written in 2007:

Here is the Sensebridge “North Paw” device: Sensebridge - making the invisible visible » North Paw

The creator of this device, Eric Boyd, first presented it at a QS meetup many years ago; I know there was a video of the talk but I can’t put my hands on it at the moment and the original videographer seems to have removed it or moved it. You could start here if you want to try to track it down: Sensebridge - making the invisible visible » Blog Archive » North Paw Talk at Quantified Self