The Personal Data Revolution

Friday, June 29, 2012


It’s possible for the average person to collect and analyze unprecedented amounts of data about themselves.  What was once the province of extreme athletes and dieters has been democratized and the resulting movement is called ‘The Quantified Self.’  Brooke speaks with Gary Wolf who coined the term, a number of self-quantifiers and MIT professor Deb Roy about what all this personal data really tells us about ourselves.  


Deb Roy and Gary Wolf

Hosted by:

Brooke Gladstone

Comments [5]

Tom Hawley from NYC

In the opening paragraph, Brooke notes "According to The Economist, Wal-Mart logs more than 2.5 petabytes of information about customer transactions every hour, equivalent to 167 times the books in the Library of Congress."

A petabyte is one million gigabytes; what could Walmart possibly be doing? On checking, I think what the Economist reported was that Walmart adds a million transactions a day to a database that is 2.5 petabytes. Here's the quote:

"Wal-Mart, a retail giant, handles more than 1m customer transactions every hour, feeding databases estimated at more than 2.5 petabytes—the equivalent of 167 times the books in America’s Library of Congress"

It's still a huge amount of data.

Jul. 04 2012 12:05 AM
Larry from DC from DC

Naval Gazing of the Highest Order!!

Jul. 03 2012 09:10 AM
Steve from USA

I think folks should have the right to request, own etc all thier historical personal data. Consolidate in all one place and have the option to decide how they want to use it going or paper life. Individual choice but the first step is to have valid ecopies of thier personal data...starting with birth certificate.

Jul. 02 2012 10:24 AM
Bruce M. Foster from NYC

The commenter from Germany seems to have missed the point, one that T.S. Eliot would have understood, given Humanity's thoroughly dodgey link to reality. As usual, a good show.

Jul. 01 2012 03:11 PM
Stephan Ortmann from Germany

The main problem is that nothing can really collect all the data about ourselves and analyze it because everything is situated within time and space and linked to many other countless variables. The idea that there is one truth and we can just calculate it is ridiculous. I was particularly disturbed by the notion that it might be possible to find out about ourselves what is possible and what not by using a data collection and analysis method. We can change ourselves if we believe that we can even if the facts are against it. We often fail because we do not really believe in it. This does not mean, however, that failure is necessarily a bad thing. It is actually part of our learning process. And so are dreams which may never come true. Dreams give us hope to continue! They perform an important function, which no data can ever calculate.

Jul. 01 2012 02:34 PM

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