Confessional data selfies and intimate digital traces

Brady Robards, Ben Lyall, Claire Moran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Data selfies are representations of self through personal quantitative data: from graphs of Tinder dating outcomes, through to the story of brain surgery told through daily step counts. In this article, we explore practices around what we call ‘confessional data selfies’ shared on the reddit forum r/DataIsBeautiful, where more than 14 million subscribers – predominantly straight men – share often complex and intimate quantitative self-representations of their lives. We draw on an analysis of the top 1000 posts on r/DataIsBeautiful, and a sub-sample of 59 data selfies, to identify patterns in confessional data selfie practices. We identify three themes: families and relationships, routine management, and body rhythms. We argue that these data selfies generate opportunities for self-reflection, connection, discussions of mental health, grief and other personal experiences. Significantly, this occurs largely between men, modulating processes of gendered impression management and expanding the conceptualisation of selfie work.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalNew Media and Society
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 29 Jun 2020

Keywords

  • data
  • selfie
  • visualisation
  • self tracking
  • gender

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