This is the experimental site of my triple D concept – Data Driven Diary.
This idea comes to me after reading the shocking fire disaster of Grenfell Tower in London. As I live in a similar ex-council block to that big block, I start to worry if I suddenly die in such an accident, I will be eliminated from the world like a USB memory stick being formatted. After searching my name in both Google and Baidu (biggest search engine in Chinese language), I’m convinced that I haven’t yet done anything great enough for adding my name as an entry in Wikipedia or anything alike.
So what is the mark I left to the world about “me”? Apparently, there is some presence on the public presence on Facebook, Twitter, Sina Weibo, Wechat and Instagram, Linkedin etc like most people have. but how about other things like height, weight, hobbies, dream, emotion, achievements, fitness, places I’ve been to etc.? Unless we upload it to a network drive (either cloud storage or social media), these information will be lost forever. Fort the most influential people, there are journalists like Stefan Zweig who try to collect every piece of information and write a biography for them in his book Decisive Moments in History. The ordinary people, however, won’t have such privilege. For most of the victims of Grenfell, sadly we don’t even have any official records to confirm who are missing, not mention how they lived their life.
Posters show images of people missing after the Grenfell Tower fire. There is frustration that there is no official database of survivors. Photograph: Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images, Courtesy: Guardian
I start to think if there is an effortless automated way of keeping a diary of anyone who wishes to do so. Fortunately, with the advance of technology, the trace of how we lived every day is turned into data which is easy to upload and store. With sensors and browsers constant keeps track of us, there is a widespread privacy concern but it also offers us a new opportunity to review our activities without having to spend a few minutes a day to write a diary. For example, if we combines the location data, the calendar data, the photo album data, the electronic receipt, the Oyster card data altogether, we pretty much get a picture of how we spent last 24 hours. Certainly, we can add fitness data, browser data and other stuff on top of that.
The idea of Data Driven Diary (DDD) is to create an automated process of tracking, displaying and sharing how we lived our life, which serves as a diary for the person being recorded to review his activities and as a biography for others to get to know this guy. Even if no one bothers to read, the DDD by itself is a proof of a life ever on this planet. The challenge of this idea is the access to the data created by us but locked up by separate apps. Fortunately, there has been efforts made by tech gurus to make the data previously locked in a single app to talk to other app, e.g. IFTTT (If This Then That). DDD is also my ongoing PhD project. Therefore, apart from the technical output, I will also write on the academic contribution to knowledge, which I have to figure out…
An example of a dairy of someone who is not decisive in history: Diary entries for 5th – 30th January 1809, Dr Thomas Lucas of Stirling
The pages shown are taken from the diaries of Dr Thomas Lucas, surgeon in Stirling. The Archive holds two of Dr Lucas’s diaries, and also a Memorandum Book. The diaries contain everything from day to day news in the town, to comments on Dr Lucas’s friends, family and business acquaintances, to international affairs and even the state of the weather. Courtesy: Stirling Local History Society and Stirling Council Archive
All in all, I’ll use myself as the first case study of DDD, creating a automatic tool to collate all the data I can gather about myself and present in both narrative and statistics. What will happen when I have a chance to review my daily life and others have a chance to know me with DDD? We will see.