Stephen Wolfram analyzes 20 years of his own keystroke activity

"One day I’m sure everyone will routinely collect all sorts of data about themselves," writes Stephen Wolfram (founder of the eponymous technology company). "But because I’ve been interested in data for a very long time, I started doing this long ago. I actually assumed lots of other people were doing it too, but apparently they were not. And so now I have what is probably one of the world’s largest collections of personal data."

Above, a plot with a dot showing the time of each of the third of a million emails he's sent since 1989. In this mind-blowing post, Wolfram digs into all sorts of data from his digital output over the past two decades. (via demarko)


  1. I really like this idea of automatically logging and graphing seemingly trivial details of your own life, to help you identify patterns in your own behaviour and learn from them.  This can enable a kind of self-awareness that would probably be impossible without computer technology, and can be really valuable to an individual.  It’s data-driven computer-aided introspection.

    Of course, this level of insight into a person can be really valuable to a stranger as well, a stranger with motives other than simple curiosity or awareness.  Facebook and Google et. al. are good examples of individuals putting these tools of analysis into a stranger’s hands, and  giving them access to giant piles of accumulated data about themselves which they themselves don’t have have ready access to. 

  2. Was he clawed on the forehead by a bear, or a wolf, perhaps?  What are the 4 parallel divots?

  3. 333,333(ish) emails in 23 years?  14,500 emails a year?  40 a day.  Wow.  Since 1998 I’ve sent 30159 (plus or minus a few).  (I lost all prior data in 1998.)  So I’m running about 2150 a year.  I sure thought I sent a decent amount of email, I can’t imagine how he gets anything else done.

    1. He’s always had quite a high level position so I imagine quite a few of his emails look like short requests for updates from employees etc. It’s still a phenomenal amount, though.

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