moving on (with a “buzzy-hum”)

The GPS and HRM watch misses much. No sign of the pains and pleasures of the run. No insight into atmospheric conditions. No indication of bodily (mechanical) weaknesses. This is all forgivable of course for it was never invented to measure effort on an axis of pleasure/pain—as if this could be quantified anyway; as if this was a pair of mutually exclusive endpoints. No, the data of this watch are just part of the ‘picture’.

“The BFG,” Quentin Blake, 1982.

Just as we can’t see the oak tree whispering its chemical defences into place or the mountain stream slowly sifting and sorting the stones and pebbles so previously we couldn’t see these readings (albeit in metricated form). The watch (and data) isn’t simply an insight into our bodies but a window onto the jumble and scrabble of flows within the landscape. Like Dahl’s Big Friendly Giant, maybe this technology offers us big ears; ears big enough to hear plants screaming, ladybirds walking, ants “chittering”, music from the stars and the “buzzy-hum” of dreams.1

“A dream isn’t something you can catch hold of.”2 That’s what Sophie thought anyway. But, become attuned in the right way, one starts to hear the “buzzy-hum” of the data dream, and one starts to realise that it matters. The Garmin Connect graph lines are ‘dreams’ caught hold of; digitally extracted from one of the innumerable flows. They quietly hum away in their jars on the internet shelf awaiting a time when they may be “blown” and reimagined.

[1] Roald Dahl, The BFG (London: Puffin Books, 1999), 26-36.
[2] ibid, 30.

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