Self-tracking and flow

Nanna Bonde Thylstrup, Stine Lomborg

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearch


This paper conceptualizes contemporary self-tracking cultures in terms of ‘flow’. Not only do data flow from self-trackers to systems and back, users flow, too, using self-tracking techniques to sift through everyday life and extract habitual and meaningful practices. In fact the very experience of self-tracking may be conceptualized as flow, a central technique, utilized by digital media companies to “hook” their users (Dow Schüll, 2012). Yet, while flow is experienced everywhere, the notion is rarely mobilized as a central conceptual framework for understanding contemporary media culture. We develop our framework of self-tracking as flow to explore the ‘self-tracking experience’ by bringing into dialogue two classic frameworks of flow from media and psychology studies; Raymond Williams’ writings on television as programmed flow (1974) and psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s notion of flow as pleasurable, immersive experience (1990).
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes
Event23rd Nordic Conference on Media and Communication Research. Nordmedia 2017: Mediated Realities - Global Challenges - Unversity of Tampere, Tampere, Finland
Duration: 17 Aug 201719 Aug 2017
Conference number: 23


Conference23rd Nordic Conference on Media and Communication Research. Nordmedia 2017
LocationUnversity of Tampere
Internet address

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