The Seven Habits of Highly Obsessive People
Nicholas Felton has spent years compiling and graphing data about himself. We got the stories behind the charts.
As the future saying goes, to know thyself is to track thyself. In the digital age, we’re creating records of our behavior all the time. But some of us keep data more intentionally than others. Self-quantifiers take it to the next level, charting the calories in every meal, wearing brain-wave-monitoring headbands to sleep, and searching for meaning in the data they accumulate. The Quantified Self, a community for the personal-data obsessed, held its first conference in San Francisco this year.
One of the original self-trackers, Nicholas Felton has been meticulously recording the details of his life since 2005—every meal eaten, hayride taken, page turned —and compiling it all in his Feltron Annual Reports. Along with fellow designer Ryan Case, Felton created Daytum, a website and iPhone app that helps people track their own activities and organize the resulting data in bar charts and pie graphs. The site enables just about anyone to be a casual “Feltron,” if there is such a thing.
In April, Facebook hired Felton and Case as product designers. With or without their help, social networking and personal statistics seem likely to converge in the future.
So we took a closer look at Felton’s Annual Reports. Part detective story, part graphic-design porn, the reports are as interesting for what they leave out as for what they highlight. After reading page after page of statistics about Felton’s daily life, it’s hard not to feel like you know him. We asked a couple of people who actually do (his mom and his girlfriend)—and Felton himself—whether the charts are getting it right.
Charts courtesy of Nicholas Felton