In this emergent period [of the Quantified Self movement], self-surveillance was part big business, part big dreams: a mix of imperfect, often prototypical devices and ebullient futurism. The latter should not be mistaken as mere rhetoric, a hyperbolic bubble frothing over a more modest reality. The production and presentation of these visions were meaningful historical actions that sought to organize how the public understood these new emerging regimes of knowledge. The question here is not to sift “real” technological innovations from mere hype or to evaluate the success of this or that technology but to assess how the actual and ideal intersected to produce new epstemic relations among big data, smart machines, and individual human subjects. In his final works, Foucault sought to undertake what he called alethurgy. “Etymologically, alethurgy would be the production of truth, the act by which truth is manifest”: not “What is truth?” but which actors and forms accrue the status of producing truth. In the case of self-surveillance, the question is how society organizes the self’s ability to speak its truth, to make itself intelligible. The conditions under which individuals are encouraged to know themselves, and the technological design that configures their ability to datafy themselves, structure the ways in which we make ourselves intelligible to ourselves in the first place.

Sun-ha Hong, Technologies of Speculation: The Limits of Knowledge in a Data-Driven Society