Vahe Kassardjian and Rafi Haladjian on Crossing the Data Desert

Today’s breakout session preview for the upcoming QS conference is from Vahe Kassardjian of INM and Rafi Haladjian of Below they describe their session “Crossing the Data Desert:”

Some people base decisions on facts and data, while some people base them on other foundations or beliefs.  Let’s immediately forget about this latter group.

For the former group, the quantity, frequency and overall reliability of the collected data is very important.  However, capturing data seems harder in real life than it sounds.  In addition to resolving technical challenges, such as designing reliable devices that provide usable data, the persistent action of collecting data for further analysis is sometimes a burden that people just don’t feel like carrying all the time.

In this breakout session, we will focus on people who get excited about the novelty of using a Fitbit device or a Runkeeper app to track their workout (the “Discovery Stage”). These are the people who diligently log the food they ingest into an iPhone app for a few weeks before they get a feeling that they are wasting their time. At some point,  they feel that the benefit they get from logging data is much lower than the cost of the effort required to do it.

We hypothesize that the novelty effect behind these self-quantification efforts fades away in a few weeks or months and falls in a “Data Desert”.  Whoever survives the crossing of the Data Desert is eventually rewarded with enough data and knowledge to pragmatically leverage them for effective decision making (“Data Legacy”).  But abandonment is more likely than persistence during this difficult phase.  Oftentimes, these people don’t have a vital problem to solve by collecting data.  They are curious to uncover a vague concern, but no drastic and immediate consequence will ensue from stopping data collection.

Our hypothesis relies on personal observations of quantified-selfers (including ourselves) and also on the phenomena observed in subscription-based services (such as joining a gym) as well as on Geoffrey Moore’s “chasm” principle.

The proposed goal for this breakout session is to explore strategies, designs, technologies and incentives to help people persist in their data collection after the initial enthusiasm fades away.

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5 Responses to Vahe Kassardjian and Rafi Haladjian on Crossing the Data Desert

  1. Tomek says:

    Main concern for persistent self-quantification is the simplicity of action. Yet few systems allow automatic data colection, so most tracking habits require manual input. After 2 years of QS experimentation I recommend using Eventrend app for Android (maybe theres an iOS version too?) making it simple to add custom “events” and grouping them into categories. It draws graphs and calculates corelations!

  2. How about incentive models such as that reward people in e-cash or retail gift certificates based on how frequently they use their fitness apps and/or how much exercise they actually do?

    Or better yet, how about a member-owned society of QS app and device users that regularly gave its members a pro-rated share of all income earned from the sale of their (individually anonymous) aggregated data?

    Why should all this income go only to the owners of sites such as and their investors?

    Paying users for all their QS data streams would end the data desert, because users would have a financial incentive from the start to upload as much QS data as they could.

    Since I can’t make it to the SF meeting to pitch this, I’m hoping to find some supporters here who would be willing to do so. Unless the response from the QS community is uber-hostile, I’m hoping to organize an online founding conference in 2013.

    The potential benefits are many thanks to an IRS structure called 501c8 that allows member-owned organizations to operate as non-profit fraternal benefit associations.

    Like more common 501c3 nonprofits, a c8 is exempt from all federal, state and local taxes, and all grants and donations to its charitable mission (in this case, QS research and education) are fully deductible.

    A c8 must be organized as a parent organization with local lodges or chapters through which its members engage in activities that create “common bonds” (perfect for the existing QS community, although online virtual chapters should be OK as well).

    The parent org must also offer all its members at least one insurance product, and it can self-insure or contract with an indepenent insurer to sell and service policies.

    Largest existing example is the Knights of Columbus, but there are 71 other c8 orgs in USA, all originally chartered in the late 19th century!

    Most astounding is that gifts and grants given by a c8 to its members and even to non-members in support of its charitable mission don’t have to be reported to the IRS by the organization, and are not taxable to the recipients unless greater than 10k per year. (IRS only cares how many members bought various types of insurance.)

    So all members except those who seek elected board positions could remain entirely anonymous to the organization forever, and thus so could all their data.

    Members would be identified to the society only by their ID#, to other members online only by an avatar of their choice, and to the accounting dept by some anonymously named e-card (eg Tango) or paypal account into which their accumulated tax-free benefits could be paid whenever they wanted to cash out.

    Society could make even more money for its members if it sold (anonymously) targeted advertising based on the aggregated QS data, with members being paid a pro-rated share of each adv contract if they elected to be shown the adv and a higher price whenever they clicked through to the adv’s website. Users could elect not to
    see any ads, but if so, they’d miss out on this income.

    Or we could just continue giving our valuable QS data away for free to privately held companies and let them profit from it.

  3. Pingback: Smart Belt Monitors Balance To Prevent Falls By Elderly Patients - PSFK

  4. CindyB says:

    Albert Donnay, Excellent idea re: 501c8. Next steps: “I’m hoping to organize an online founding conference in 2013.” How can QS-ers become involved with this effort?

  5. My idea for Human Health Graphs (HHG) is a bold attempt to 1) eliminate mobile health & wellness app abandonment 2) predict navigation throughout one’s HHG and 3) enable HHG owners to monetize parts or the whole HHG. My thought experiments on eliminating any health/medical application is to make the user interface a high definition, true color, animated humanoid of the user! That’s right, innovate the manufacturing of low-cost yet high accuracy (< 1 mm SEP) 3D body scanning and whole body skin | hair | nails (= 500 dots per 25 mm – biometric fingerprint resolution standard) imaging equipment (~$2 per scan & image, <10 minutes to scan and image, and ~1.000 terabyte (lossless compression) for ~2.000 sqm skin / hair / nails) and watch how addictive and obsessive users become to "fill in the blanks" of self based on subdued advertisement of human (objective) parameters and concomitant biosensors and instrumentation versus observations recorded with English terms and concepts from various medical ontological models (i.e., non-objective or instrument based data output).

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