Apps as Companions: How Quantified Self Apps Become Our Audience and Our Companions
Chapter, Peer reviewed
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Self-tracking apps gather intimate information about our daily lives. Sometimes, they take the role of a confidante, an anthropomorphised companion we can trust. Humans have long confided in non-human companions, such as diaries. The relationship between user and app is structurally similar to the relationship narratologists and literary theorists have identified between diarist and diary. Our agency is always shared with the technologies we use, whether they are simply pen and paper or a complex AI. By comparing apps to diaries, I demonstrate how these technologies act not simply as objects but also as narrators and narratees. While diaries are mostly silent listeners, self-tracking apps speak back to us in a feedback loop and thus enter a role as our companions rather than simply as our audiences.