I am an inveterate list keeper and over the years have kept lists of various things that have had some significance or importance in my life. As you can see from the image above my lists used to be paper based running to pages upon pages at the back of my day books, neatly written out and regularly perused.
I still keep a traditional to-do list but these days that has transferred to an electronic service, Remember the milk in my case, and that suits me well. However, I also keep other lists that are more a record of what I have done than what I need to do. For a number of years I have published here on this blog a list of all the gigs which stretches right back to the first gig I had attended in 1982.
Additionally I have also kept lists for books read and films watched, which I am publishing here for the first time. The books read goes back a reasonably long way, to 1999 in fact, long enough to be able to say with some certainty that I am not an avid book reader (on average one a month) but that the number I read each year is increasing. It is also clear that I like a certain type of book: Iain Banks, Nick Hornby, Martin Cruz-Smith and Robert Harris are favourites.
Recording low volume items such as books read is all very well but it would be a pain for things such as music tracks listened to which is where third party services such as last.fm really come into their own. This automatically records everything I listen to pretty much anywhere and so over the last ten years of using has confirmed that, yes, I really do like Genesis!
All this recording of your life in minute detail is in vogue these days, it even has it’s own grandiose title: quantified self. Now there are some that take this recording to the nth degree including their bowel movements. For me that is a step too far but I do like to think that there might be some correlation between the number of times I tweet a day and whether it is raining outside – there are a number of services that allow you to monitor just such stats.
Statistics are the key difference between my paper lists of old and the hi-tech solutions now becoming available and being able to store and process vast quantities of data. Whether the insights prove valuable is another matter.