One of the metrics I have enjoyed tracking on and off in the past is social interactions. Who I met with today, how long did we meet for, and what we discussed are just a few of the data points I would track. Sometimes I would even go as far as categorizing how the individual interactions made me feel, to get a better understand of which relationships were healthy and which were not.
But tracking social interactions is very difficult. You have to manually log all of your interactions and code them appropriately. It is not a passive tracking task at all, which makes it all the more difficult because of how many individuals I interact with each day.
Earlier this year, I was accepted into the Google Glass Explorers program. I have been wearing Glass quite a bit and playing around with the various applications currently available for the device. I am 50/50 on whether or not Glass will replace the mobile smartphone, but there is no question that wearable devices are gaining market share on total use of discretionary spending. But of all the wearables out there right now, Glass does have one advantage in the Quantified Self space... it takes into account your direct line of sight. From a tracking point of view (pun intended!), Glass is the perfect device for tracking and measuring social interactions. With the right application, if you are wearing Glass, the device could log each individual you interact with - measuring a wide variety of variables: length of conversation, tone, mood, environment (how many individuals do you interact with at the office versus at a coffee shop), among various other things. All passive, all stored in the cloud, all ready for analysis. Google Glass (and future product like it) could change the relationship tracking game.
That said, given that there are already concerns about privacy and Google Glass, this new level of tracking would only fuel that fire. In theory, using something like Google Glass to take pictures or video of every individual interaction with another person would cause great concern on the other end of your view. Think about how many conversations you have that would be considered "off the record"... Discussing staff issues with the HR representative, water cooler conversation about other co-workers, an argument with a spouse, etc. These are conversations that you conduct frequently would be treated differently if the person you were talking to knew it was being recorded. I would argue that these are the conversations that are most worth tracking! But there is no way you would get sign-off from any parties who know that their words and actions could be replayed at any given time. I recall a scene in the movie RoboCop, where there is a reference made about RoboCop being able to record everything around him, and how that was used against the bad guys in the movie. People act differently when they know they are being watched, as science has proven.
Besides playing around with Google Glass, I am also experimenting with an application I recently downloaded on my Android device called "Moodies". Moodies is an app that records your conversations with others and measures your tone and pitch to try and determine your mood. The jury is still out on whether the app works or not (I still have some more tests I need to run), but this goes to show that tools like Moodies, and potentially other wearables like Glass, will begin to quantify social interactions and communications passively, sometimes unbeknownst to others. Whether this is ethical or not is still being debated.
When that debate reaches a conclusion however, I do believe, in time, Glass-like technology will be what smartphones have become, and ultimately will become a standard of communications and interactions. When that happens, it sure will make social interaction tracking easier, especially for self quantifiers.