06 SES 05 A, Self and Other and the Internet
Michel Foucault (1975) has demonstrated that the measurement of the human being can be seen as a disciplinary technique. The measured body, as Foucault argues, hence becomes both the target and the object of power. In measuring and weighing the body, it is also subject to a transformation: the body is tested for its viability and thereby becomes an object that is processed.
The disciplinary action in this case seems to have turned into a self-disciplinary action. By using a wide range of various smart phone applications and divers gadgets, the contemporary human being is practising a form of ‘self-tracking’. The aim of this self-measurement is to gain knowledge about personal, health-related, physical and habitual aspects. However, the data gained through ‘self-tracking’ does not remain with the individual, but on the one hand is often shared in an online community and potentially compared to the data of others. On the other hand it is possible that data will be used by the providers of the hard- or software for different (economic) purposes.
‘Self-tracking’ can not only be understood as an aspect of self-disciplinary action, but can also be seen as a form of self-improvement. In this sense there is a relation between ‘self-tracking’ and ‘human enhancement’. According to John Harris (2007) ‘human enhancement’ is defined as an intervention to human constitution, that causes an optimised change. Although self-tracking does not lead to optimisation in itself, it is evident that the probability for trying to optimise oneself seems to increase based on ‘self-tracking’.
The pursuit for awareness of the self and self-improvement goes along with the teleological understanding that pedagogy is inherent. The human being is supposed to unfold his power and develop his knowledge through education and learning. Therefore because of the improvement of an individual human being, humanity will improve all together.
The fact that efforts made to optimise oneself using ‘self-tracking’ are shared in a community, allows for ‘digital paternalism’. The mutual comparison with each other, the exchange within the community can lead to the fact that the members of the community motivate each other. That means: self-improvement within a community does not only enable improvement for oneself, but also mutual support of the members and therefore leads to an improvement of the whole community.
We are assuming that education is transforming the relationship between the self and the world. This relationship includes both the relationship to things as well as the relationship to other human beings. Looking at the ‘quantified self’, the question arises of how far ‘self-tracking’ can change the relationship of the individual to the world (to things and others) and to oneself in the short, medium and long-term? Alongside this there is also the question of how ‘self-tracking’ can actually be understood as an educational process? This further leads to the question of the normative objective, precisely: Who is to say what should be defined as improvement or optimisation?
The objective of this talk is to answer the basic question of which (media) pedagogic and educational relevance ‘self-tracking’ carries?
Further to that, the (media) pedagogic challenges, that arise in relation ‘to self-tracking’, will be analysed and discussed critically.
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