Self Surveillance

December 14, 2007

If you extend the mode of self-measurement to its extreme you get a state that approaches what Hasan Elahi calls “self-surveillence.”

A few years ago Elahi, a new media artist, was stopped by the FBI in an airport after 9/11 and interviewed as a suspect. Of what he was never told. But the interrogation bugged him. In the effort to prove himself innocent he flooded the agencies with all the data about himself — his travels, his phone records, pictures of every meal, all his expenses. He kept dumping this huge database about himself on them till they beseiged him to stop.  But he kept documenting his own life in minute detail, and making it “public” as an art project. There’s press about it.

Since the winter of 2002, Hasan Elahi has documented every urinal he’s used. He’s photographed every plate of noodles he’s eaten. His every movement, in fact, has been tracked through a GPS device in his cell phone and posted online.

It is a bit like lifelogging, but transparent lifelogging.

You can track Hasan in real time on this Trackingtransience site.


Here a video of Hasan’s PopTech talk about his program, which he says is a conceptual art work. Wired article about his efforts.

Related Posts

Allen Neuringer's Many Decades of Self-Experimentation

Steven Jonas

May 10, 2019

Allen Neuringer is an accomplished behavioral psychologist who has been self-experimenting for over 40 years. From trying to actively control his heart rate to generating ideas through dancing, here's what he's learned.

An N-of-1 experiment helps a physician identify the trigger of painful swallowing.

Gary Wolf

March 25, 2019

Dr. Alexander Smith found the trigger of his throat pain by eliminating a likely culprit from his diet: dairy. He noted that the pain disappeared, and then reintroducing the offending food and noticing that the pain came back. This simple protocol substituted for a much more difficult process that is typically recommended, saving him a lot of time, stress, and money.

The Human Right to Science

Gary Wolf

March 20, 2019

Over the last year, we’ve been working on the launch of a new nonprofit organization called Article 27, whose mission is to advance the human right to participate in science. Inspired by the achievements of the Quantified Self community, we want to do what we can to help everybody trying to learn about themselves using empirical methods.