Bethany Soule: Extreme Productivity

“That’s insane! I want to try it.”

Bethany Soule is the co-found of Beeminder, a commitment tool which she characterizes as “goal-tracking with teeth.” Her and Daniel Reeves, the other founder, have spoken on how they tracked the development of the tool and integrating it with other QS tools.

In this talk from QS15, Bethany tells of how she was inspired by Nick Winter’s “Maniac Week“, to focus solely on working for an entire week. She shares what she learned from doing this multiple times, from tools for reducing distractions to tracking accomplishments and ensuring accountability. You’ll also find out how many hours she was actually able to work.

Here is the time-lapse of Bethany’s Maniac Week, as well as, her blog post on the experience:

Tools mentioned:
Beeminder
TagTime
Telepath Logger
etc/HOST editing
RescueTime
StayFocusd
Freedom
Final Version

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Jacek Smolicki: Self-Tracking As Artistic Practice

“I don’t have a concrete goal. I don’t have a concrete aim to advance myself. It’s a way to explore different aspects of my life through data.”

Since 2009 Jacek Smolicki has experimented with using personal data as a mode for artistic exploration. In this talk, he presents some of his practices:

To learn more about Jacek’s practices, explore his website. Check out other examples of self-tracking as artistic expression with talks from Laurie Frick and Alberto Frigo, and pieces from the art exhibition at the 2015 QS Conference in San Francisco.

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Building a Culture of Health by Stephen Downs

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From the Quantified Self Public Health Symposium

Stephen Downs, Chief Technology and Information Officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation looks forward to the day when healthy choices are easy choices. That day may not be tomorrow, but identifying the early adopters, innovative thinkers, and technological disruptors can move us closer to that healthier world. In this short talk Stephen explains why the foundation decided to support the Quantified Self movement.
“One of the things you can do in philanthropy as a funder is find new and exciting sources of energy and tap into them, because social change comes from that. There’s an opportunity to leverage the data that are generated by millions and millions of people about their day to day experiences to transform health, health care research, and how health care is delivered.”

Watch Stephen’s video on Medium.

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Health Data Explorers by Kevin Patrick

KPatrick
From the Quantified Self Public Health Symposium

Dr. Kevin Patrick is the director of the Center for Wireless and Population Health Systems at Calit2. At the 2015 Quantified Self Public Health Symposium Kevin offered novel ways to think about the social utility of data. “The petabytes of data that are coalescing outside of traditional medical care and public health are a new natural resource,” he said. But instead of using the trite and troubling metaphor “data is the new oil,” he asked us to turn our attention in a different direction, to the notion of thinking about data as part of our commons. “Properly cared for and curated, it can benefit all of us, like clean air and clean water.”

Kevin is leading a growing network of researchers and companies called the Health Data Exploration Project, whose members are committed specifically to using self-collected data for public health discoveries.

Watch Kevin’s talk on Medium.

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Robby Macdonell: The Data Is in, I am a Distracted Driver

“When I see someone driving towards me with their face buried in their phone, I get gloriously indignant about it.”

Robby Macdonell has given great talks on transportation logging and time-tracking. Here, he combined those two data streams, using Automatic and RescueTime, to prove that he does not use his phone while driving nearly as often as other drivers.

Only the data didn’t agree.

Watch how Robby confronts the realization that he is more distracted than he thought and the changes he made because of it.

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Scaling the QS Movement by Larry Smarr

lsmarr

From the Quantified Self Public Health Symposium.

Larry Smarr’s major contributions to scientific progress are well known. A physicist and the founding director of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), he helped bring the power of computing to scientific research at a time when computers will still highly specialized instruments. Today he is the Director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), one of the most innovative research institutes in the world.

He’s also an avid self-tracker, using his own data to correctly self-diagnose the onset of Crohn’s disease. At the 2015 Quantified Self Public Health Symposium, Larry spontaneously launched the meeting with a description of what it was like to be at NCSA in the early 90’s when his student Mark Andreessen, the creator of the first popular Web browser, could review every new website in the world by hand. “We could keep up with that little bit of the exponential.” Larry asked us to consider that a similar experience of scaling lies ahead of us in the Quantified Self movement. What happens at the birth of new technologies and new fields of knowledge, when very early participants get to know each other and reflect together on what values and uses will be encoded in our tools, can influence developments that affect hundreds of millions of people.

Watch Larry’s talk on Medium.

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What We Are Reading

WWAR

Articles

The DIY Scientist, the Olympian, and the Mutated Gene by David Epstein. There are several surprising twists in this story of a non-professional scientist named Jill Viles, who made an important discovery about her own rare genetic disorder. What inspired me mostwas Viles’ tenacious reliance on her own capacity to reason, even in the face of skepticism from professionals who had less knowledge (though more confidence) than she did. Eventually, she connects with highly technical scientists whose research direction she influences with her ideas. Epstein got a fantasic quote from one of them when he asked the scientist if this has ever happened before. “In my life, no,” he says. “People from outside coming and giving me hope? New ideas? I have no other example of this kind of thing. You know, maybe it happens once in a scientific life.” I found myself wondering if this kind of thing will be less rare in the future. -Gary

A Drug to Cure Fear by Richard A. Friedman. This article intersects two of my interests that stem from my own self-experimentation. From my stress tracking I realized that many of my reactions in my day-to-day life are influenced by traumatic memories. From my spaced repetition practice I learned how memories can change over time through retrieval and consolidation. A study done in the Netherlands suggests that a memory can be decoupled from an associated fear response by using propranolol which blocks the effects of norepinephrine, a  chemical  that strengthens connections in the brain. The study has yet to be replicated, but hopefully it will increase our understanding of trauma.  -Steven

Internet of Things security is so bad, there’s a search engine for sleeping kids by J.M. Porup. Ever since doing a research project on data flows for our first Quantified Self symposium we’ve had what you might describe as a below average level of confidence in the security and reliability of information traveling outside the immediate context of its collection, now that APIs connect to APIs connecting to yet other APIs. Still, even I was surprised by the recklessness and potential harm described in J.M. Porup’s brief account of a search engine that displays random pictures from internet connected consumer cameras around the world. -Gary

Algae bloom toxin linked to Alzheimer’s, other diseases by Amy Kraft. One consequence of the climate change and the depletion of fish stocks in ocean’s is the increase occurrence of algae blooms. Ethnobotanists found a correlation between algal blooms and neurodegenerative diseases among remote populations in the Pacific. New research suggests that cyanobacteria, the microorganism in these blooms, has a neurotoxin that can cause neurodegenerative precursors that develop. This neurotoxin enters the human food chain as it bioaccumulates in fish and shellfish. -Steven

Show&Tell

Glass Half Full Succeeds in Unwinding Upsets by Paul LaFontaine. Most people have moments of irritation or worry throughout the day. Paul wanted to find out what worked better as a response to these moments. Option A was to step back and observe his emotions in a manner similar to that taught by some schools of meditation. Option B was to figure out the source of irritation or concern and think of a positive angle to the situation. What is great about this post is the very simple but illuminating experiment that he devised to explore this question. -Steven

Finding My Optimum Reading Speed by Kyrill Potapov
As an English teacher Kyrill Potapov spends a lot of time working with 12 year old kids who are trying to improve their reading, writing, comprehension, and analytical skills. In this talk, he explores a remarkable method of speed reading, called Spritz, that promises to let you “read Harry Potter in three hours” with full understanding and recall. Could such a promise possibly be true? -Gary

Heart Rate Variability, Body Metrics, and Cognitive Function by Justin Lawler. This is a great examination of how Justin’s HRV measurements correlate to all other personal data he has collected. -Steven

Using Spectrograms to Visualize Heart Rate Variability by Randy Sargent
Randy’s idea about using spectrograms, normally used for audio signals, to create a portrait of your own time series data, is completely novel as far as I know. -Gary

Visualizations

spuriouscorrefations

Spurious Correlations by Tyler Vigen. An entertaining collection of unrelated facts that can be correlated with a high degree of confidence. -Steven

FireCalcWeight

Hackers Diet, FIRECalc and weight loss by u/Thebut_. This chart is a mess, but the idea behind it is fascinating. This reddit user was inspired by FIRECalc, a financial tool that “projects your future assets based on historical market data” and tried to apply it to his weight data. Instead of giving a single projection, the tool shows a range of possibilities. This is similar to how Baseball Prospectus’s PECOTA system uses a weighted range of possibilities (probability distribution) rather than a single guess (point estimate) for forecasting a prospect’s future performance. I would like to see more of this kind of thinking applied to personal data. -Steven

Projects

Darwin Tunes by Bob MacCallum, Armand Leroi, Matthias Mauch, Steve Welburn, and Carl Bussey. A fascinating project that treats pieces of music like organisms that can mate and reproduce based on listeners’ votes. These audio loops started off as random noise, but as the generations moved into the thousands, the presence of chords and higher order melodies emerged. At this point, there have been over 8700 generations. You can take part yourself! -Steven

On the QS Blog
Quantified Self Public Health Symposium
Explaining Nightscout by Lane Desborough

From the Forum
Central repository for QS data
Best Pulse Oximeter of all-night logging
Open Source wearable bio-sensor: TrueSense Kit
How about quantifying and tracking your blood alcohol?

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Tuning My Brain With Music For Reading, Programming, and Archery by Rocio Chongtay

In this fascinating talk Rocio Chongtay shares her novel and thoughtfully designed experiments in using music to adjust her concentration and relaxation depending on what she’s doing. Using a consumer EEG device from Neurosky, Rocio tried different types of music while tracking the relaxation and concentration dimensions identified by the Neurosky algorithm. She had experience experimenting with Neurosky in her lab, and then turned these techniques on understanding something about her own mind.

 

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Quantified Self Public Health Symposium

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Many participants in Quantified Self meetings around the world are involved improving public health as researchers, policymakers, clinicians, and community leaders. Once a year, we convene a Quantified Self Public Health Symposium to explore how we can better support new discoveries about ourselves and our communities. With the next meeting coming up in May, we thought we’d link to some of the materials from the 2015 Quantified Self Public Health Symposium, which we’ve posted in the QS Public Health channel on Medium.

This meeting is by invitation only, but it is not hard to get an invite: If you are working on public health research or have another kind of contribution to make to this discussion, please take a look at the Quantified Self Public Health Symposium website and be in touch if you’d like to come.

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Explaining Nightscout by Lane Desborough

“My name is Lane Desborough, and I’m going to spend the couple of minutes talking with you about Nightscout on behalf of the many collaborators who have been part of this ongoing program. But first I want to introduce you to my son, Haydon. He just got a new quadcopter and he has hacked it to turn it into a bomber so he can drop water balloons on his younger brother. He’s a happy, healthy fifteen year old. But that wasn’t always the case. Five years ago Haydon was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, and our family’s life took a radical right hand turn…”

Nightscout, which Lane describes in this wonderful talk, allows people with people with diabetes and parents of kids with diabetes the see real time data from a blood glucose monitor on a mobile device. While similar efforts are underway among manufacturers, leadership is coming from patients and caregivers.

The quality and commitment here can inspire anybody who is thinking about how QS tools fit into new forms of knowledge and cooperation. The projects Lane discusses in this talk have continued to grow and evolve. Supported by a remarkable group of activists and a technically expert community made up mainly of people with diabetes and parents of kids with diabetes, contributors to these projects have created a suite of tools that can dramatically improve self-care.

For instance, a couple of weeks ago I saw this tweet from Howard Look, founder of Tidepool:

Did you know that people with diabetes have been building their own artificial pancreas systems? Read more about Nightscout, the Open Artificial Pancreas System, and related projects at these links:

Dana Lewis on the Open Artificial Pancreas System

Background on the #OpenAPS Project

Tidepool: A platform for diabetes data and the apps that use it

Nightscout project on Facebook

#WeAreNotWaiting on Twitter

 

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