Digital Traces in Context| Digital Traces and Personal Analytics: iTime, Self-Tracking, and the Temporalities of Practice

Martin Hand, Michelle Gorea


This article examines digital traces related to the use of self-tracking devices in the context of digitally mediated iTime. These devices enable the continual production, representation, interpretation, and negotiation of varied traces of physical activity, time use, and temporal coordination. We focus on temporalities, exploring how the “tendencies” of iTime are being differentially produced, encountered, interpreted, and acted on in daily life. In-depth interviews with 25 individuals between 18 and 24 years of age are used to examine the contexts of trace production and analysis as they take place within different configurations of ordinary practice. First, we examine whether continuously self-tracked data alters people’s sense of the temporal possibilities of self-transformation. Second, we ask whether people’s encounters with, and analytics of, their traces alter how their daily life is temporally sequenced, coordinated, and experienced. Third, we consider if and in what ways quantified and visualized self-tracked data change the temporal meaning and value of media-related practices for those undertaking them. We show how digital traces are produced within, and become concrete elements of, the temporalities of practices.


iTime, digital traces, personal analytics, self-tracking, practices, temporality, datafication, self

Full Text: