Digital Traces in Context| Appropriating Digital Traces of Self-Quantification: Contextualizing Pragmatic and Enthusiast Self-Trackers

Ulrike Gerhard, Andreas Hepp


On the basis of a media ethnography of self-trackers and their self-quantification, we argue in this article that the ways related media technologies and digital traces are appropriated depends on the overall contexts of these self-trackers. There are at least three kinds of contexts that matter: first, the context of further practices, of which self-tracking and self-quantification are a part; second, the context of social figurations the self-trackers are involved in or related to; and, third, the context of societal discourses about the self in present societies. These contexts come together in two fundamental types of self-tracker, whom we call “pragmatists” and “enthusiasts.” These two types differ in the way they use digital traces for self-tracking and the meaning of self-tracking in their everyday lives. However, both types can be understood as an expression of a new form of constructing the self in times of deep mediatization.



self-tracking, self-quantification, quantified self, datafication, digital traces

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