Stephen Wolfram, the creator of Wolfram|Alpha, has been collecting details on his intellectual and physical activity for over two decades. In a post yesterday on Wired's Epicenter blog, Wolfram sifts through the massive volume of personal data and illustrates how such reservoirs of information can be used to teases out interesting tidbits about health and work habits.
After reflecting on the insights provided by his meticulous tracking of daily metrics, he offers his thoughts on the future for personal analytics. He says:
There is so much that can be done. Some of it will focus on large-scale trends, some of it on identifying specific events or anomalies, and some of it on extracting "stories" from personal data.
And in time I'm looking forward to being able to ask Wolfram|Alpha all sorts of things about my life and times -- and have it immediately generate reports about them. Not only being able to act as an adjunct to my personal memory, but also to be able to do automatic computational history -- explaining how and why things happened -- and then making projections and predictions.
As personal analytics develops, it's going to give us a whole new dimension to experiencing our lives. At first it all may seem quite nerdy (and certainly as I glance back at this blog post there's a risk of that). But it won't be long before it's clear how incredibly useful it all is -- and everyone will be doing it, and wondering how they could have ever gotten by before.