My Numbers, Myself – Personal Reading Metrics

personal-metricsPersonal metrics – information that we collect about ourselves – have a natural appeal.  We want to be better – if we can measure something about ourselves and optimize it, we will.  Today that process is becoming easier with the help of sensors to collect personal data and web sites that help us make sense of it.  Individuals are keeping track of all kinds of personal data – including caloric intake, how much we’ve exercised (e.g. Nike + iPod video below), the state of our finances.  This is what Gary Wolf in a recent Wired article referred to as “self knowledge through numbers.”

Nike+iPod in action

So why not personal reading metrics?  We capture general statistics about reading levelsof the population.  And with a little bit of mathematical dexterity it is possible to calculate our per capita consumption of books.  But this doesn’t tell us anything interesting about our individual reading habits.  e-Book readers offer a platform that could help us collect and track information about what and how we read.

For starters we could track:

  • Total books read over a given time period; also categorized into genre or type
  • Books never completed (similarly categorized)
  • Average number of pages and words per session
  • Average length of each reading session (which could yield average reading speed) and time between reading sessions
  • Amount of reading by time of day

Data could be uploaded to websites with the appropriate algorithms and graphing capability to take care of the analysis and trending for us.  By providing just a little of additional personal data, we could even benchmark ourselves against other readers with similar demographics.  Anonymized aggregates of such data could provide publishers with valuable information about their titles and readership.

Such metrics might be viewed as self indulgent.  But, given the natural inclination to improve our stats,  they could spur us to read more.


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