Self-Tracking: Reflections from the BodyTrack Project
Based on the author’s experiences the practice of self-tracking can empower individuals to explore and address issues in their lives. This work is inspired by examples of people who have reclaimed their wellness through an iterative process of noticing patterns of ups and downs, trying out new ideas and strategies, and observing the results. In some cases, individuals have realized that certain foods, environmental exposures, or practices have unexpected effects for them, and that adopting custom strategies can greatly improve quality of life, overcoming chronic problems. Importantly, adopting the role of investigator of their own situation appears to be transformative: people who embarked on this path changed their relationship to their health situation even before making discoveries that helped lead to symptom improvement. The author co-founded the BodyTrack project in 2010 with the goal of empowering a broader set of people to embrace this investigator role in their own lives and better address their health and wellness concerns, particularly those with complex environmental or behavioral components. The core of the BodyTrack system is an open source web service called Fluxtream (https://fluxtream.org) that allows users to aggregate, visualize, and reflect on data from myriad sources on a common timeline. The project is also working to develop and spread peer coaching practices to help transfer the culture and skills of self-tracking while mentoring individuals in how to self-assess their own situation and guide the process for themselves.