A lot of promises are being made for the potential of big data and how it is currently or will be revolutionizing our lives. But what about small data? Or to put it more accurately, what about your very own personal “big” data? This is the dream of the quantified self. Think about it like the digital wake you leave behind you – the footprints of your everyday life. Those that are chasing these personal analytics tools are even making bigger promises than the big data proponents.
Unfortunately just as we are starting to see results from big data, we are still a ways out from seeing any delivery on the so-called quantified self. Although some services and apps exist, they are either not very useful, they are not very polished, or generally both. Google Now, Cue, and Grokr are at the forefront of taking your digital footprints and analyzing them to present you with useful tricks, but they are only hinting and whispering about what is really possible. Where these services “predict” that you are headed home from the office and give you traffic info, personal analytics as a whole can save you time and money, increase your productivity, and even save your life by detecting silent risk factors and symptoms.
Because the current services are nowhere near fulfilling those promises, the adoption curve for personal analytics is only occupied at the far left with the most bullish of innovators. Forget about early adopters, the only current users for these products are the tinkerers, inventors, and coders making these things. This is why by and large they all solve only one problem, and the vast majority of them are not what you would call runway ready.
When beautiful and functional apps do hit the scene expect a mass rush of adoption. Personal analytics and the quantified self live in the world of “I didn’t know I needed that until I had it.” Having a diagnosis of your silent habits and patterns is not something you could give up once you’ve seen it. It may be the Wild West for now, but you’ll soon be paying close attention to your digital wake.
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