How to work out if you are a datasexual

A datasexual is, apparently, someone who has an obsession with personal data. These people record everything and actually believe data is sexy. Have you fallen into this trap? For there may not be a cure.

Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

A friend of mine revealed to me at the weekend -- after the second glass of wine -- that he had broken up with his girlfriend.

The moment of truth had come when she looked up at him in bed, stared deep into his eyes and said: "The data I'm getting from you is that the experience was imperfect."

He made his draconian decision because he found this dialogue unromantic. The truth is, though, that she might merely have been a datasexual. (Well, she is a banker.)

I am indebted to DataThink for revealing that this term is now au courant. Yes, it is on the verge of being labeled a condition. Or even a syndrome.

It appears that datasexuals are the sort of people who tabulate everything about their lives (and those of others) into accessible, concrete information.

I am about to write a sentence that I know will make me feel unwell. Here goes. They find data sexy.

Oddly BigThink seems to trace the roots of datasexuality to the infographic. Yes, the pretty way that some display facts in order to enchant the disinterested.

Apparently, this led to something called the Quantified Self Movement, where people put numbers to everything about themselves. Perhaps this is why Douglas Adams, who knew so much about life, declared that its meaning was 42.

Even I have met otherwise decent, loving people who take vast internal pleasure from having machines tied to themselves when they exercise and then posting this, um, sexy data, for all to see.

Perhaps the app that is the most qualitatively disturbing is something called Placeme. On its home page, it has an endearingly insane testimonial from Katie, a Stanford Graduate Student: "Placeme is like a friend who remembers the name of every place you went."

No friend does that. No real friend. No human friend. Haven't these people seen "The Lives Of Others"? How silly of me. They must have.

BigThink offers Placeme's joys in this way: "Placeme would be able to record everything from which door of the store you entered, to how long you spent in each aisle, to the approximate speed at which you traversed various departments. The app would also know which route you took to the store, how much you spent, and would be able to recommend the fastest way home while you're still checking out."

I know that Rain Man had his endearing side. But this was a man crying out for love. These 21st century datasexuals seem neither to understand sexiness nor humanity. And the love that they hold is clearly of a very peculiar nature

Is it inhuman of me to admit that some small part of me wouldn't weep if the consumers of this enterprise were asked to perform community service for, say, the next ten years?

Of course it is. But let me get the data and display it on several pretty web pages to accurately assess exactly how inhuman of me it truly is.

 

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