This is the second in a series of posts I’m gradually putting together on ‘extreme self-tracking’. In this post I consider Lillian Karabaic’s ‘Annual Reports on Herself’, styled along the lines of The Economist magazine.
If you’re interested, then this is the first post, on Alberto Frigo’s 36 year life-logging project. The example below is no where near as extreme, but none the less, it’s pretty ‘out there’ by most people’s self-tracking standards.
Lillian Karabaic’s ‘annual reports’ cover various aspects of her daily life including
- miles travelled by various means of transport,
- time at the gym,
- savings and expenditure rates,
- caffeine and alcohol consumption, and
- (humorously) number of burritos and tacos consumed.
She presents her quantitative data on the above in a range of different formats, and supplements this with qualitative analysis for some of the above areas.
Her 2016 report also includes a much more qualitative ‘special report’ in which she charts the process of her quitting her salaried job and moving into self-employment.
The design of the report is consciously modeled on The Economist magazine and her 2016 report involved 31.6 hours of design, 5.4 hours of writing and 6.2 hours of data work…. Or a very long working week to put together the data,
Lillian self-identifies as a quantified-self enthusiast (she calls her annual reports her ‘quantified-self’ content).
A good case study illustrating the positive sides of self-tracking…?
To my mind, Lillian’s a great example of an individual making self-tracking data work for her, in at least three ways:
- Part of her income comes from her writing about personal finance, and her personal data on her income and expenditure is an extremely effective marketing tool: she has a 50% savings rate, which is obviously a real ‘selling point’ for her.
- She uses the data generated to make art work which she hosts on her blog. Here she makes use of photography as well. While she may not make money directly from this, it helps raise her profile.
- Finally, her annual report is compiled using ‘R’ and Adobe Illustrator, which clearly demonstrate her technical skills with these two pieces of software.
In the sense that she’s a self-entrepreneur, and that she’s using self-tracking data to ‘market herself’ more effectively, Lillian is a neoliberal subject.
HOWEVER, from what I can glean from her blog, Lillian seems to have a very engaged life… she’s very much a community activist/ artist and her quants analysis is clearly just a very small part of her life: i.e. she’s clearly not the type of person to suffer negative emotions if her ‘data’ take a down-turn, and her humour shows she knows about the limitations of quantitative data as a means of understanding life (kind of shown in her arbitrary decision to include ‘tacos eaten per day’ in her annual report.
Firstly, she doesn’t seem to be ‘taking responsibility’ for her health and well-being that seriously… tracking seems to be more about play and fun….
Secondly, she doesn’t seem to be that ‘goal oriented’…. Her life seems more chaotic. In her 2016 report, she talks about ‘not having a plan’ .
TBH, I can’t find much to dislike about this ‘qualified’ quantified project of the self, other than the sheer amount of time it takes Lillian to collect all the data, then again, if that’s her ‘hobby’, even that’s not a fair criticism: I’d have to level the same at anyone doing anything for ‘fun’!