Self-tracking is nothing new for the data-obsessed, but it’s hard to think of a more comprehensive example than Every Day of My Life, a visualization by Polish artist and developer Marcin Ignac. Beginning in 2009, Ignac tracked his computer usage day and night, culling more than 2 million clicks and 10 million keystrokes that reveal the ambient patterns of his daily life.
“The inspiration for the project came simply from my life and countless hours spent in front of computer screen,” Ignac tells Co.Design. As an interaction designer at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction, he logs a lot of screentime. “For me the biggest revelation was how rarely I spend more than few day without my laptop and that definitely I need more holiday.”
He tracked his computer use with an OS X app written by designer Dean McNamee called Tapper, which logs minutes spent at the computer. Then he used the programming environment Plask to visualize the data, creating an image where each line represents the course of a day. A second set of visualizations map mouse clicks and keystrokes. You can clearly see where he was on vacation, where the blackened striations become thicker, while the periodic all-nighters stay bright across the entire image. “In these 2.5 years I’ve made 2,610,877 clicks and pressed 10,207,483 keys,” Ignac writes. “For another person it might look like bunch of colorful stripes but I can really see patterns based on the software I was using at that moment, the projects I worked on, when I changed jobs or when I was traveling.”
Ignac is interested in the QuantifiedSelf movement, a community of technologists and developers who are working to develop new modes of self-tracking. He’s monitored the money he’s spent, online friends, research bookmarks, and even his own face changing over time. “It’s about tracking personal data in order to better understand and hopefully improve our life based on insights gained from this data,” he says.
There’s an odd sense of vertigo that comes from looking at such a comprehensive image of your habits, as though you’re seeing your own image after living without a mirror for years: That’s who I am?
Check out Ignac’s website here.