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Ben Childs

Digital designer and data visualiser

28th Mar: Currently focussing on...Automating design system workflows and learning Python for data visualisation on DataCamp

From 2017 – 2019, I studied MA Digital Media & Society at the University of Sheffield. The course allowed me to explore technology from a sociological perspective, and to develop my writing skills and critical thinking. This article is based on an assignment for one of the course modules.


12th November 2018

(Updated 13th November 2018)

Digital identity and the quantified-self

Digital identity on Strava is constructed through the repeated act of users uploading representations of their physical activities. The measurable and analysable aspect of a user's activity, defined through spatial and self-quantified data, is subjectively framed by written titles, descriptions, photos and the interaction between users.

I found this an interesting and reflective essay to research and write because it required me to consider my relationship with social media and my resistance to datafication:

  • The physical, biological data exposed through activity tracking such as my location, weight and heart rate might be seen as ultimately personal data.
  • The details I choose to expose when describing an activity perhaps declare more about me – such as how I felt or what photos I choose to attach.
  • The surrounding metadata identified by Strava exposes information about who I am and where I ride – such as who I rode with, who 'liked' the activity or where I started and finished the ride.

Despite my awareness that exposing this personal data can be capitalised by Strava, I rationalise that the service is of high enough valuable for me to share my data.

Download the full article6 pages, PDF format

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