Accepted paper:

No data for comparison? Triathletes and their culture of self documentation


Yonca Krahn (Universit├Ąt Z├╝rich)

Paper short abstract:

This paper focuses on triathletes using self-measuring tools not for sharing their sportive activities with others, but better organize their trainings as well as achieve higher physical performance only for themselves.

Paper long abstract:

Triathlon only becomes this sport if three disciplines are set together, which generally happens only during a competition. Only at these occasions triathletes are really able to judge their own performance in terms of physical fitness in relation to others. Here an effective training behaviour is rewarded. Because of the highly complex nature of the sport, demanding the training of three disciplines, as well as lots of knowledge of material and sportive practices, many triathletes seem to structure their trainings with electronic tools.

Measuring techniques like pulse watches and gps gadgets allow them to present personal data graphically, nowadays even vivid. Starting with compiled training plans, training recordings are made while practicing, followed up by electronic editing and evaluating data on internet platforms. Software mainly used on online webpages, allows them to generate (informal) ways of comparing oneself to others.

With ethnographic interviews as well as participant observation, questions regarding the modes of how ambitioned triathletes deal with their data are ask. A closer look at their techniques gathering and processing data further is taken: What purposes of self-optimization are generated? How are the measuring gadgets used? Does triathletes` use contradict with the original ideas of utility by providers? And what strategies of circumvention can be found?

panel Digi002
The utopia of the better self: self-documentation and data practices in everyday (virtual) life