“Perhaps one did not want to be loved so much as to be understood.”
- George Orwell, 1984
Our self love, our desire for self understanding is propelling us towards an Orwellian future. Technology is increasingly introduced into our lives with an aim to quantify our intangible physical and emotional states. This information is then analyzed and presented back to us in numeric form, as an "enlightened" factual representation of our health, behaviors, and by extension, who we are and how we feel. There is something both deeply human and completely ironic about using the most advanced tools at our disposable with the goal of a more enlightened sense of self. The irony is as we aim to understand our humanity we exchange our human subjectivity for computed and quantified measurements. In contrast to 1984 we are not being surveilled against our will, through the quantified self we are creating a surveillance apparatus that is much more insidious. Tech giants insist that the larger the surveillance is in scale, the better our collective and individual human experiences will become. Fortunately our own Big Brother is an adolescent, there is still time to pause and asses where we are and where we would like to go.
The works in this section pose questions to the reader about the 21st century quantified self. This section examines our desire for personal understanding and questions the reliability of data as a narrator for our human experience. What is our goal with quantification? Is it to enhance our humanity? Are we willing to give away our data to a company promising to use it to help us live longer? Are we willing to give companies a larger window into our lives in exchange for cheaper insurance rates? These are questions we need to ask ourselves before they are answered for us.