Assignment: Collect your digital footprint.

I’ve always wanted to look at the bigger picture of my life – but I never imagined the effects it would have on me.

Because I was never active on my email or social media, I decided to download my Google Location History Data to explore and experiment with. This dataset dates back to this time last year (Feb 18 – Feb 19) – I spent exactly half of that time in New York and half of that time in Bangkok. (https://takeout.google.com/settings/takeout)

Before writing my own code, I went on Location History Visualizer to get a sense of the data (https://locationhistoryvisualizer.com/heatmap/). In less than two minutes, I found myself tearing up about my past in Bangkok. It brought back memories I wanted to let go. — This experience of visually zooming in and out of my location history created a very dramatic change of emotion, from being very excited to somewhat traumatised.

After a while I calmed down and focused on my life in New York instead. I changed my mindset to think “Where are the places I’ve been and where else can I explore?”. This allowed me to think of my good memories when my family visited, look for places I enjoyed previously and look forward to other adventures.

My code: https://github.com/hellonun/rest-of-you/tree/master/e-unconscious-locationhistory

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ABOUT DATA: I’m surprised by how accurate and detailed the tracking is. The data shows my friend’s apartment that I went to only once and stayed for just 10 minutes. If looking into detail, I can also see my bike trails vs. my walks. Google knows exactly where I am! This shouldn’t be a surprise, but it still is.

ABOUT ME: I’m surprised by the emotional influence this dataset has on me, and how it really depends on what lens I put on when looking at it.


For future development for this project, I will add a timeline and a clock. Timeline: to scroll and see if my life in New York changes by season / by the amount of time I’ve spent here (becoming more local). Clock: to see how my map changes by the time of day . The assumption is that after 12-1 AM I’m mostly at Bobst or ITP. Hopefully this will trigger some positive change.

The questions I have after having done this assignment are “How do we consciously explore data?” and “How can we let the insights reveal themselves in a suitable manner?” (not take us by surprise in a negative way). Another thought I have is that these data let us live the past over and over again whereas our minds have a different way in managing these memories – how do we balance the two – accepting the truth and being present.

A quote I’m pondering: “The fact that we change all the time is what makes us human”

Huge thank you to Morgan Mueller for coding help.


Exposing ROY

I began being interested in the idea of ‘Rest of You’ through my personal sensorial experiences – specifically when I felt a sense of ‘Flow’ in my body and mind i.e. when I started feeling that things I see were changing states even although they weren’t, or when I felt physically touched although the object was merely close to my skin. These moments happened when I was slow enough to notice them. At the same time, however, these moments happen constantly all the time, only imperceptible because my conscious mind makes sense of them differently or filters them out.

Being aware of my own sensorial perception has helped me understand the concept of ‘Individualistic Reality’, what I think is not what I see, and what I see is not what others see, and as a result has helped me overcome a lot of misunderstanding events in my life.

From the discussion in class and readings, I found these concepts to be intriguing:

‘We are optimised to survive, not to be happy’

‘Senses plus mind equals reality’ – Subliminal

‘To find your flow is to find the balance between our consciousness and our unconsciousness’ // we are not made of one or the other but both.

‘Our minds are more like lawyers than analysts’ – Stranger to ourselves // we tend to believe what we want to believe.

While rational illusions and other concepts interest me, I want to focus on sensorial illusions because, to me, it is the most provocative (mainly because it is so close to us and almost impossible to ignore, also least rational – does not require one who is not interested to ‘think’, thus most accessible). Plus, I believe experiencing a sensorial flow can stimulate one to be very curious about how the mind works and begin to explore and discover other aspects of it.

Project ideas – to be researched and developed

VISUAL (space) & SOUND (time) – the synchronisation or the lack of synchronisation

TOUCH – how it is influenced by visuals

SMELLS – how smells can influence our emotions (we can’t help it, it reaches the emotional part of the brain even before the cognitive part)