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Fitness for sale: The value of self-tracking in secondhand exchange

journal contribution
posted on 19.03.2019, 10:54 by Ben LyallBen Lyall

This article uses online advertisements to gain retroactive insights into the use and disuse of wearable self-tracking technologies in everyday life. This is achieved by examining over 2700 listings for devices from manufacturers like Apple, Fitbit, and Garmin. These listings are sourced from an online secondhand marketplace—Gumtree Australia. In this exchange space, sellers often draw on existing retail product descriptions and aim to encourage prospective buyers with positive descriptions. Despite the “sale imperative” of these advertisements, item descriptions often feature disclosures about health goals, bodily capacities, and social expectations. This article identifies a system of for “values”—activity, social, financial, exchange—that inform advertisements for wearable self-tracking devices. Wearable devices are highly transient in the secondhand space. Yet, the apparent importance of undertaking personal self-tracking projects is constantly espoused, even as devices are passed on to new users.