Quantified Lives: A History of the Media of Measure

Quantified Lives is a new media history of the tools, technologies, and interfaces that we use to count, measure, and weigh our bodies, our selves, and our lives. Positioning current discussions of big data, quantification, and empiric cultures in a long history, I argue that there are important continuities between 21st century interests in “quantified selves” and mathematic technologies of the self in the age of Shakespeare. Numerate technologies have always shared in the performative and poetic creation of our realities, and histories such as this are essential to our understandings of modern digital cultures.

Drawing on media studies, media archaeologies, and feminist theories of performative culture and technology, I consider theoretical and practical impacts of our push to imagine lives, deaths, and communities in quantified terms. While this book foregrounds the long history of 21st century forms and technologies, I also argue that contemporary technologies actively seek to obfuscate their operations in ways that are new and newly disenfranchising.

This is a manuscript in progress and I’ll update here as things move along.