The Data Pharmacy: Wearables from Sensing to Stimulation

Chia, Aleena and Neves, Joshua. 2022. The Data Pharmacy: Wearables from Sensing to Stimulation. Media Theory, 6(2), pp. 77-110. ISSN 2557-826X [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Taking up the therapeutic discourse of contemporary neuro wearables, this essay explores how models of the quantified self are increasingly supplemented by pharmacological mediations. We argue that contemporary neuro wearables are more than instruments for self-tracking; they are increasingly devices of therapeutic transmission. Pharmacological media rely on digital wellness ideologies and offer datafied solutions to the toxicity of both big tech and big pharma. Beyond questions of efficacy—that is, the question of whether neuro devices do what they say—this essay focuses on matters of cultural framing and aspiration that underpin the wellness industry. Our interest is to supplement current understandings of bio-technical management by tracing the emergence of what we term the data pharmacy—where data and pharma industries and cultural imaginaries are increasingly fused within an emergent paradigm of computational wellness. This pivot in big tech’s wellness portfolio translates existing biodata and health analytics into pharmacological techniques that aim to automate ways of thinking, feeling, and being.

Item Type:



data, drugs, neuro wearables, self-tracking, computational wellness

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


19 December 2022Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

07 May 2024 08:59

Last Modified:

07 May 2024 09:12

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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