Paris And The Data Mind

This is an article by the affluent and multi-talented Craig Mod for The Morning News. I wonder why, but I can’t seem to stop reading it. I have already re-read it a couple of times but I found myself returning again, reading lines after lines to see if I’ve missed anything meaningful.

He started that journey in Paris. Coincidentally, I returned from Paris not long ago too. So there’s a connection, in some ways. He’s very much fascinated by technology and travel, the restless spirit in me feels the same. When he discovered the little device called Fitbit, and how it could potentially plot our movement and paint a telling story of our day and lifestyle on some chart, it was intriguing. Not only that, it provided an incentive for the wearer to move on, to explore and to log those additional steps in the quest for greater numbers.

Weaving storytelling and personal struggles into the article, it’s like being at the crossroad of a nameless yet familiar place on earth. No matter how many times I read the article, I always seemed to unravel something deeper in meaning and thoughts. Maybe I resemble the author in the way we behave. Maybe it’s something else, but it always made me question the impact technology has had on my lifestyle – positive and negative. The connectivity of my iPhone has also brought about a distraction in reality.

But Fibit is a different entity altogether. It’s passive and it’s small and light-weight. All I have to do is to have it with me anywhere I go. It presents a new and exciting future, as well as past for me to ponder and analyse. I could plan my journey and be glad that those hours that will be on foot will prove to be beneficial in exploring the country as well as looking good in the log. As the days passed, it would be interesting to look back and see how many steps were being recorded in that particular day. As Craig puts it:

You learn to suss out the qualitative feeling of worn comfort after a 20,000-step day, and know the anxiety wrought by an idle 5,000-step day. There is pleasure to be found in these connections—a simple number, your mind, your body. A nourishing shift in awareness.

Numbers create awareness. So we hope.

Activity tracker like Fitbit represents a new frontier in our thirst to quantity and make sense of everything we do. Even simple pleasures like walking can be recorded and the potential from mining these data could prove to be extremely valuable to anyone with business acumen.

And this is where I draw a line. I love what technology can bring and how it enhances our lives. But I also dread the way it sometimes cast a barrier, dividing us from reality. Tracking device is an interesting food-for-thought that will one day be mainstream. But as someone who wants to strike a balance and move away from the dependancy of technology, it’s not the right time, yet.

A line from Jonathan Harris’ Big Data Will Help Us: “It will help us keep count of everything in our lives, but will it help us understand that not everything that counts in our lives can be counted”