Why Self Track?



FYI: This isn't a rigorous post but an invitation to a dialog. Although my tone is critical, I am especially criticizing myself, who engages in some of this action as well.

Why engage in self-tracking?

In the programmer-y communities I'm part of on Mastodon and elsewhere it's pretty normalized to engage in self-tracking. It takes many forms, and many programmers like to build their own little tools to track themselves.

Let's talk about impact. Self-tracking is an alternate form of taking a selfie. At best it's useful for a sense of accomplishment ("Look at all this shit I did"), though I don't know why that would be particularly important. At worst it's an exercise in narcissistic navel-gazing. Yes, the irony that I'm tapping out these highly important words on a gemlog, lol.

These communities are already self-obsessed with the minutiae of code. Perhaps we should be coding less and doing other activities?

Self-tracking is not much different from the self-quantification 'movement', exemplified by hack Tim Ferris of The Four Hour Workweek, and later the Quantified Self. Again, I can't imagine something much more narcissistic than this entirely self-obsessed data driven group, especially one that already has an ego problem. And here I mean that society financially and emotionally rewards these brogrammer-kings.

Let's say you don't identify yourself within that group. You're a hippy farmer solar-grammer. Then why fall into the productivity trap that self-quantification invites? Productivity is a western obsession, an exemplar of the protestant work ethic. Do you need to obsessively track all the time you spent making changes to your projects? What's it good for?

Where I'm a hypocrite:

- I'm constantly working and coding! For someone railing against productivity, what the hell am I doing? Even though I enjoy what I'm doing, maybe I should be doing other things beyond sitting on a computer all day like a fool. - I have a mini text 'log' where I write about a tweet-length or so of what I did that day, a sentence or two. I did this for a few years on paper, stopped for 5 years, and then lately started again on the computer. I'm thinking of it as a memory aid, but even still, why is this important? - I track my blood pressure regularly to show my doctor - I draw a doodle when I exercise for the day

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