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Fitbit-Sitbit – Nicola Naismith and Jayne Wallace

In this subproject Nicola and Jayne explored the opportunities and limitations of current ‘quantitative self’ health and fitness technologies through craft practices as a way to think more deeply about aspects such as wellbeing and authenticity. Through wearable health monitors many aspects of daily habits can be tracked, including diet, mood changes, sleep patterns, blood pressure and heart rate. Quantified self tracking allows users to learn more about their health, and can inspire healthier habits. Yet the situation is complex, because technology corporations profit from insights into, and sale of, personal fitness data.

How can craft practices and consideration of care and respite help reflect on the meaning and value of fitness data? N’s aim in this project was to integrate qualitative, messier, more human, aspects of human experience with the quantitative statistics from wearable health monitors. To do this Nicola and Jayne decided to each wear a Fitbit and to give each other access, through the app, to some of each other’s data. They individually interpreted aspects of what was shared by creating artefacts. As both Nicola and Jayne used embroidery as an existing form of making and/or meditative practice, this was a natural medium for them to explore in this project.

“Fitbit misses key things about wellbeing, like where did you walk, what did you see and did you have any interactions? Wellbeing is not abstract things like steps. Tracking emphasises movement as wellness but does not understand rest. I’d like to have a ‘fitbit-sitbit’ that could take rest into account. I don’t want to be told to move — it goes from reminding me to bugging me” — Nicola 

Through a selective sharing of data (both quantitative and qualitative) Nicola and Jayne wanted to investigate the potential for creating, a different, and more trusting one-to-one relationship, than the one-to-many model which is currently facilitated by wearable health technologies, such as Fitbits. They both recognised the trust and intimacy that this process encouraged between them and the distinction with the opaque ways in which the data collected by such IoT technologies, is, or could be, leveraged.