Reporter is a crazy iPhone app that tracks… well, everything. It pops up an alert at random intervals throughout the day and conducts a mini survey, then puts all this data together to be mined at your leisure.
One by one I’ve been switching off my various data trackers, realizing that they do little but distract me. Some metadata is useful: Geotagged photos, or calorie tracking when you’re losing weight. Other data is more of a weight around your neck, dragging you down with distractions. Do I really need to know that today’s bike commute was 15 seconds faster than yesterday’s? Do I need to remember to charge and sync my bike computer instead of just jumping on and riding?
Reporter goes in the other direction, asking you questions about who you’re with, where you are, whether you’re working and more (you can add custom fields). It also uses all of the iPhone’s various sensors to add another layer of data.
The app comes from Nicholas Felton, a FitBit-wearing, lifelog-camera-wearing designer who wrote Reporter for himself and used it throughout 2012 to track himself. And now you, too, can spend more time thinking about the past than living in the present if you drop $4 on the newly-released app.
Your collected data can be output as a CSV or JSON file for use in any data aggregating or chart-building app you like.
I guess the value of this kind of thing lies in the long term. It’s neat to see where I shot a photo on my birthday ten years ago, for instance, or where was that cool little restaurant we ate at on vacation that time. But I’m not sure how much I’ll care about the percentage of today I spent working.
Then again, I’m a nerd, and the app is just $4, so maybe I’ll give it a go. It could be like the nerdiest journal ever.