iPhone Tracking Controversy | Atlas of the Habitual

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Recently it was discovered that the iPhone tracks its user's every movement without the GPS feature being enabled. While many people were appalled this happens it is the stark truth that this kind of supervision by companies exists and will be a very large part of our future. Each person is creating their own personal dataset by going about their lives and these products and services are capturing every minute of it just by sitting in one's pocket. This locative information could be seen as a commodity and bought or sold between these services. It is already happening with Facebook and Gmail Ads. Besides marketing and increasing the reach of these services what can be done with this data?

This information holds great creative potential. It is a self portrait of the user and the data can be displayed in many ways.

The following is one such example of what can be created if you had access to your own personal dataset.

If you had a visualization of every place you've been for 200 days, what could you do with it? What could it tell you about yourself and how could others use the data?

Technology allows us to see information in a way we never could before. Atlas of the Habitual is about creating data out of the everyday, the hyper-digitizing of your life.

This atlas is a catalog of my experiences over 200 days. It is a realistic self portrait of my everyday habits and developing routine, piecing together my life action by action, map by map.

With the increased integration of technology into our everyday lives, traces are created for all of our interactions with networked devices. At its most basic level, one's phone records and internet browsing history are saved by the companies that provide these services. It has become such a part of our lives that most people pass off the meticulous records being kept on them.

People not only generate data out of their interactions with technology, they also create it through the course of their day.

This atlas exists to digitize my everyday movements, to create a personal dataset and start to explore how that information can be used. The questions then arise: How best to parse and present this information? What constraints were followed?

For this atlas, categories were generated based on different aspects of my life and public data I found about the location. The dataset was used to recount memories, actions and interactions I had in my current residence of Bennington, Vermont, USA. This data can be presented in a virtually unlimited number of ways, depending on what one wanted to do with the data. Although the information holds great value to the individual, it could also be seen as a commodity.

With this dataset an auto insurance company would be able to see how often, and at what speed I drove based on the time between latitude and longitude positions in the dataset. The company could then cross-reference this to the speed limits on the roads I was on and prorate my policy to that information. If a loved one in another location had access, they could see how I spent my time. The information could also be seen as a travel journal or even a location-based check in service. Knowing this information could help or hurt a relationship with others due to one's location, activity or what company they kept.

With more and more information about ourselves being inputted and shared through technology, accessing, selling or even having to pay for this information could be the future.

This is my data, my self-portrait. It is my impression on this location.

Total distance for Atlas of the Habitual: 2072.5 miles.

Atlas of the Habitual Project Site

Selected map shows every route taken during the month of December 2010. Total distance on map: 350.8 miles