Quantified Self has demonstrated the power of deploying data for self-knowledge with an experimentalist ethos. In some cases “self-tracking” as such is not an introduction of quantification to a place that it had been absent, but rather a process of re-encoding, a distinct data ecology, a novel array of metrics and measurements. Services like RescueTime have sprung up to show history alongside time with the imperatives of productivity, focus, intentionality, autonomy. Yet re-quantification can be more generally understood to mean that the informatic sensorium has varied political affordances.
Recording lists of visited urls is not the only way to record browsing history. This is of course not how the web’s pervasive tracking cookies read out where you have been previously (and predict where you are likely to go). What does it mean for computers to read history differently from how humans read history? Moreover, what abuses and opportunities does the discrepancy in human and computer representation open up for doing unexpected things with data? By experimenting with different material representations of history, different modalities of procedural rhetoric, perhaps we can get closer to understanding the broader political significances of our paths through the internet.
Material Browsing History aims to be a series of experiments in re-quantifying web browsing data.
Projects so far include tubedreams.