Even if you’re not a fan of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” (but if you’re not, ask yourself why) you may know of one of its characters, a highly-capable but emotionally-challenged android named Data.
Thinking about it, the name Data was quite appropriate. He was clinical about everything. And that’s precisely why we like data, lowercase “d,” in real life. Data doesn’t get rattled by office politics, the reason Google approves projects based on data and not the emotions and whims of coworkers. If you were unfamiliar with Google’s data-driven culture before, it probably makes more sense to you now why they’re pushing endless productivity apps to help us record, organize, and analyze our own data.
What’s the point of basing our lives on data? Well, the same as it always was: You either want to save time, money, and energy, or help someone else do the same. And the recording process has a name: lifelogging, and while Rubel didn’t coin the term he’s on to something when he says that “if you dedicate yourself to using data wisely to plan and measure you will succeed no matter what your goals are.” The most basic form of lifelogging is keeping a personal diary, perhaps the oldest and still the best way to keep track of your life, whether you plan to write your autobiography or one day subject the world to your grooming tips, ala Bob Packwood.
Rubel helps single out one of the more selfless lifeloggers – dad Allen Fawcett, who tracked his son’s sleep patterns for a year and recorded them in the graph shown in the time-lapse video embedded above. The blue shows when his boy was sleeping, the yellow when he was awake. Over time, the yellow awake blocks solidify into predictable blocks, as you’ll see. How did this graph help Fawcett? It didn’t, per se, but the data gives other new parents hope that sleep patterns can even out. And if data can give you hope, that’s a pretty good reason to record it.