Attending to your lifestyle: Self-tracking technologies and relevance

Bas de Boer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

This chapter intends to develop a phenomenological analysis of how self-tracking technologies structure attention. The goal of this analysis is to highlight how the use of such technologies - ones that are already used frequently, and will likely become part of the lives of many more individuals in the future - turn our body and habits into objects of relevance. The outline is as follows: First, I discuss some technological developments that intend to promote a healthy lifestyle (1). Second, I suggest, elaborating on insights from postphenomenology, that technologies mediate what appears as relevant by shaping the relation between human beings and the world (2). Third, I further unpack the implications of this idea by connecting it to Alfred Schütz's theory of relevance. I suggest how self-tracking technologies shape systems of topical, interpretational, and motivational relevances (3). Fourth, I argue that what stands out as relevant is constituted through sedimented habits, as well as the projects in which people engage (4). Fifth, I suggest that technologies that are designed to help people pursue a healthy lifestyle turn the attention of users towards their own body in ways that often remain unnoticed, such that it might become increasingly difficult to turn attention towards other objects and projects that might be equally relevant (5). In conclusion, I suggest that such technologies privilege a particular view of health that might become an unquestionable element of the lifeworld, and that this view might remain unnoticed when not being subject to careful analysis (6).

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAccess and Mediation
Subtitle of host publicationTransdisciplinary Perspectives on Attention
PublisherWalter de Gruyter
Pages217-237
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9783110647242
ISBN (Print)9783110642858
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Feb 2022

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