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Mar 31

/ nic.at News - 31.03.2020 10:22
The "most connected man on earth": Total self-surveillance

Chris Dancy is known as the "Most Connected Man on Earth”. At Domain pulse in Innsbruck he told us why he thinks "digital detox" is a lie and why he regularly swaps his smartphone.

2008 was not a good year for Chris Dancy. He was overweight, smoked and did not do enough exercise. His state of health was getting steadily worse. The American found an unusual way to tackle these problems: He digitised his entire medical record and networked. Little by little, he bought more devices and apps to improve his quality of life. Physically and mentally, as he emphasises. Today, the 51-year-old uses over 700 devices and functions to measure, analyse and optimise his activities and physical processes. This starts with his daily calorie intake, and ends with his well-being. His state of health has improved significantly as a result. Dancy divides his data into three areas: The first area shows him when he uses what equipment. A program records how much time he spends using apps, when he works, and has unproductive time. The second area records information about his health. He records his activity, sleep and nutrition. His pillow, for example, has a built-in sensor that records sound and movement during the night. It also measures whether he is happy. Dancy publishes almost all his data on his website www.chrisdancy.com. The lack of privacy does not bother him.

Mr. Dancy, you call yourself a "Mindful Cyborg". What does this mean?
I combine two major trends of recent years: mindfulness and technology. I have alerts on my smartphone that remind me to be good to myself. For example, I get the message: "Positive energy exists just like gravity". This is how you find inner peace and health.

Doesn't it make you rely too much on your smartphone and forget how to listen to yourself?
No, it's not about relying on technology. It's about technology helping me with things that are important to me.

There is a trend called "digital detox", which is the temporary abandonment of digital aids. What do you think about this?
People claim that "digital detox" reduces stress and that people who spend less time with their devices feel better. That is a lie. People who don't use their devices think all the more about their smartphones. That is then new stress. There has to be a healthy balance, that's much more important. I don't think much of the technology shame that often exists.

What do you mean by technology shame?
Nowadays it is suggested that you have to feel bad when you use technology. Some people go to the bathroom to check their messages. This is a way of teaching children that technology is unsafe and dangerous. Yet most people couldn't work or communicate with their families when they travel without it. You can't just look at the negative side. For me, technology is magic, with so many opportunities. It's much more important to teach young people more about data and apps. That is not done enough.

You publish almost all the data about yourself on your website. What do you think about sharing private data?
Privacy is a social construct. It is an illusion that you have control over data. I swap smartphones with my partner at weekends, he looks at my messages, replies to them and vice versa. It brings us closer to each other and shows how the other person ticks.


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