Digital Traces in Context| Personal Data Contexts, Data Sense and Self-Tracking Cycling

Deborah Lupton, Sarah Pink, Christine Heyes LaBond, Shanti Sumartojo


Few studies thus far have focused on how the sensory and embodied aspects of digitized self-tracking are entangled with its technological and spatial dimensions. To address these issues, we draw on the findings of a project that involved the use of digital sensory ethnography to identify the data practices of commuting cyclists in two Australian cities who monitor their rides using digital self-tracking devices. We focus on four key contexts in which our participants collected and interpreted their personal data: (1) affordances (the capacities of the technologies they used and the data thus generated), (2) spaces (the physical environments in which the participants prepared for, undertook, and completed their cycle trips), (3) senses (the embodied sensations involved in cycling, self-tracking, and responses to digital data), and (4) affects (the participants’ emotional responses to and about self-tracking and personal data). As we show, these contexts are intertwined, working together to contribute to people’s personal data collection practices and how they engage in data sense making.


self-tracking, senses, embodiment, affects, digital data, cycling

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