L1: Exchanging Privacy for Other Perks: Quantified Selfers Get It [Infographic]By Kadley Gosselin March 7, 2012
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Latitude’s L1 activities are designed to let individuals engage with us in playful, “bite-sized” ways, providing us with ongoing data streams which will offer snapshots of how people all over the world are using the Web—and how the Web is changing the way we live. We’ll continue to add new, interesting ways for you to engage with us and become an active contributor to our research. Check back at latd.com for L1 findings or connect with us on Twitter and Facebook.
We decided to investigate the topic of self-tracking amongst quantified selfers—lead users of tracking apps and services (like FitBit for tracking fitness, Mint for finances and TeuxDeux for productivity) that generate a whole lot of personal data. We wanted to know what people track about themselves now (and what people will want to track in the future), whom they feel comfortable sharing their data with, and how they think about their own data’s value.
We’re only months into 2012, and it’s shaping up to be an important year for online privacy reform. Google, the Obama administration and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) are amongst those refining and instituting privacy agreements in favor of users and their increasingly valuable data.
Our big finding
Despite the increased attention given to privacy controls and data collection, it seems that individuals who are interested in using services to track their own behavior may be less concerned about companies using their personal data and more concerned with having free access to services that help them self-track. This may come as a pleasant surprise to companies and organizations whose businesses depend on having access to mountains of consumer data, and to those who naturally accrue loads of user data but haven’t quite figured out what to do with it yet.
How are people tracking themselves?
Given the portability of mobile devices and the explosion of self-tracking apps like LoseIt and RunKeeper, it’s no surprise that 90% of quantified selfers use a smartphone to record and track their own data. The same number use a traditional computer, while a whopping 78% still use the classic pen and paper method.
What are people tracking?
Click here to view a larger version. Infographic created by Latitude, (cc) some rights reserved.
- Offer benefits for sharing data, and be transparent about it. Increasingly, people understand that their data might be worth something to a business, and they often expect something in return. In many cases, they’re satisfied with the right to use an app or service for free, or even with simple transparency about how their data will be used – and then deciding from there whether or not to opt-in. More companies need to realize the advantages of being explicit about (and even creating) benefits around sharing data (benefits like the ability to compare your data to that of thousands of other users like you), especially when the majority of users already feel they get more value from these types of applications when they share their data.
- Make the self-tracking experience seamless.Traditional mobile apps are still booming, but the next generation of self-tracking apps will be all about accurate behavioral tracking and seamless auto-input. No remembering to record your stress level, or painstakingly enter nutrition information for everything you ate that day. Lowering the barrier to entry will only attract more users who will generate more data which, if shared, is beneficial to both users and companies. People are open to giving up some privacy control if they can see the benefit (whether it’s extra features or the idea of self improvement), but a service still needs to be incredibly easy-to-use—making auto-entry of data an enormous opportunity.
“I’d like a service that automatically records every piece of food I eat and totals the calories, letting me stop when I’ve reached a certain level so I don’t overeat.” -Female, United States
“Seamless, or closer-to-seamless recording and input (without manually having to enter it) would be awesome.” -Female, United States
- Emphasize personal improvement – on topics that matter. People have a natural desire for self improvement, whether it’s through saving money, eating healthier or recycling more. Self-tracking is successful across many life areas because people have a desire to better themselves. Health-related tracking is already a leading area of opportunity, with room for improvement when it comes to motivating users (giving people benchmarking data or helping to meet their goals). New technologies for health monitoring will continue to fuel the space, as this tech becomes more affordable for and accessible to the average consumer (not just available in doctor’s offices and medical labs anymore), and as we find new ways to track behaviorally more “subjective” things like stress and mood.
“I would love a stress monitor, which would mean finding an accurate way to assess stress (genuinely, in the way that a cortisol test does).” -Male, United Kingdom
Header image credit of: Ed Yourdon
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