I remember discovering Google’s Ad Centre a few month back, and it’s like finding out the personality test results for your Google accounts. It shows you how you are profiled based on your online activities, and various topics and brands that Google thinks are of interest to you. Upon comparing the profiles associated with my work and personal email accounts, I found that Google had seemingly pegged me as two distinct individuals based on each account’s online activities.

Of course, it’s impossible to be both these people simultaneously. But, as the saying goes, ‘Dress for the job you want’, and it seems, ‘Browse for the home ownership you aspire to’.

This also got me thinking about my digital footprint — the social media platforms I frequent, the fitness goals I tracked, and the movies and music I’ve consumed . There is a wealth of information I’ve scattered online that can help me evaluate my habits and preferences. Beyond introspection, this could also help me make better decisions and improve my quality of life.

Accessing Your Personal Data

Thanks to regulations like the GDPR, most online services now grant users access to their personal data in accordance with the Right of Access and Right to Data Portability. Downloading your data is just a few clicks away with most major platforms. With companies having done the heavy lifting in terms of data mining, I now have the opportunity to explore years of personal data, and the patterns and trends of my online and offline behavior.

 

Here are some mildly interesting insights I’ve gleaned from analysing some of my own data.

Shared Netflix Account Usage

As the age of shared Netflix accounts starts drawing to a close, it’s time to look back on how well my shared Netflix subscription has been utilised. I am delighted to see that I have two power users who have truly made the most out of it over the last year.

Netflix Watch Time (2022)

Aside from being able to tease my friends about their copious amount of K-drama consumption, I’ve always wondered if a Standard subscription, which allows for only two simultaneous users, would be sufficient for my group of friends, thereby sparing us some change for coffee.  Unfortunately, upon closer inspection, I found that we often have three or more people using the account simultaneously about once every month.

Days with three or more users in 2023

In the last 16 months, that adds up to 10 days where we would need the Premium plan to accommodate everyone’s viewing needs. Had I optimised my spending, we would have saved a whopping $36 since the start of last year, which amounts to approximately $0.56 per person per month.

Once again, my home ownership dreams are dashed by my reckless Netflix spending.

Lockdown Sleep Routine

Fitness trackers are designed to provide users with valuable insights into their health and well-being, often accompanied by dedicated dashboards showcasing various health benchmarks. While these features are incredibly helpful, I took it upon myself to delve into my Fitbit sleep tracking data and uncover some of my less admirable moments.

Behold, the Chart of Quarantine Dreams and Sleepless Nights: A captivating exhibition of a university student’s journey into the realm of horrid sleep hygiene. Witness the erratic patterns in sleeping hours and waking hours, where wakefulness is no longer constrained by the boundaries of daylight and darkness. This chart is a testament to the resilience of caffeinated beverages, and a reminder that a good night’s sleep is merely a suggestion in the year 2021.

Duration of sleep plotted across hour of day in 2021

There is a lot more exploration to be done with the data I’ve scraped together about myself, such as revisiting my high school taste in music and seeing how that has regressed over the last decade. Hopefully this has given you the motivation to explore your own online presence, and I’m sure you too would be able to discover something fun and novel within your own digital self.

 

The Data School
Author: The Data School