Tracking social rhythms of the heart: from dataism to art


  • Veera Mustonen Aalto University; National Consumer Research Centre, Helsinki
  • Mika Pantzar National Consumer Research Centre, Helsinki


Stress, Body, Human, Physiology, Subjectivity, Art and science, Big data, Technology, Heart


The authors conducted a curiosity-driven study to explore what a vast body of self-tracking data could reveal about the rhythms of everyday life. The authors instructed thirty-six research participants to engage in self-tracking for a week. They measured their physiological stress and recovery 24/7 for this period. In addition to that the participants recorded their subjective experiences of stress and recovery. Using different methods of analysis and interviews, the authors were able to form data sets demonstrating both individual behaviour and interpretations of the data and the collective rhythms of all the participants. Their analysis contrasted the aggregate-level 'big data' of all the participants and the personal-level 'small data'. People’s subjective evaluations of their stress and recovery systematically differed from the physiological measurements. The big data revealed behavioural patterns and causalities that were not recognized at the individual level. The small data, on the other hand, offered rich material for personal interpretations and reflections of the individuals' own lives. To communicate both levels of the data the science project resorted to artistic expressions.



How to Cite

Mustonen, V., & Pantzar, M. (2013). Tracking social rhythms of the heart: from dataism to art. Approaching Religion, 3(2), 16–21.