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What We Are Reading

We hope you enjoy this week’s list!

Articles
Big Data in the 1800s in surgical science: A social history of early large data set development in urologic surgery in Paris and Glasgow by Dennis J Mazur. An amazing and profoundly interesting research paper tracing the use of “large numbers” in medical science. Who knew that is all began with bladder stones!

Civil Rights, Big Data, and our Algorithmic Future by Aaron Rieke, David Robinson and Harlan Yu. A very thorough and thoughtful report on the role of data in civil and social rights issues. The report focuses on four areas: Financial Inclusion, Jobs, Criminal Justice, and Government Data Collection and Use.

Caution in the Age of the Quantified Self by J. Travis Smith. If you’ve been following the story of self-tracking, data privacy, and data sharing this article won’t be all that surprising. Still, I can’t help but read with fascination the reiteration of tracking fears, primarily a fear of higher insurance premiums.

Patient Access And Control: The Future Of Chronic Disease Management? by Dr. Kaveh Safavi. This article is focused on providing and improving access and control of medical records for patients, but it’s only a small mental leap to take the arguments here and apply them all our personal data. (Editors note: If you haven’t already, we invite you to take some time and read our report: Access Matters.)

Perspectives of Patients with Type 1 or Insulin-Treated Type 2 Diabetes on Self-Monitoring of Blood Glucose: A Qualitative Study by Johanna Hortensius, Marijke Kars, and Willem Wierenga, et al. Whether or not you have experience with diabetes you should spend some time reading about first hand experiences with self-monitoring. Enlightening and powerful insights within.

Show&Tell
Building a Sleep Tracker for Your Dog Using Tessel and Twilio by Ricky Robinett. Okay, maybe not strictly a show&tell here, but this was too fun not to share. Please, if you try this report back to us!

Digging Into my Diet and Fitness Data with JMP by Shannon Conners, PhD. Shannon is a software development manager at JMP, a statical software company. In this post she describes her struggle with her weight and her experience with using a BodyMedia Fit to track her activity and diet for four years. Make sure to take some time to check out her amazing poster linked below!

Visualizations
The following two visualizations are part of Shannon Conners’ excellent poster detailing her analysis of data derived from almost four years of tracking (December 2010 through July 2014). The poster is just excellent and these two visualizations do not do it justice. Take some time to explore it in detail!

SC_calorieweight

SC_sleep

Tracking Energy use at home by reddit user mackstann.

EnergyApp

“The colors on the calendar represent the weather, and the circles represent how much power was used that day. The three upper charts are real-time power usage charts, over three different time spans. I use a Raspberry Pi and an infrared sensor that is taped onto my electric meter. The code is on github but it’s not quite up to date (I work on it in bits and pieces as time permits I have kids).”

From the Forum
Help With Livestrong Data Export
Need Help Deciding Which Device
New to Fitness Tracking

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Visualizing Our Quantified Self

At our 2013 Quantified Self Global Conference we were excited to share a variety of beautiful and insightful data visualizations from our community. In the months leading up to the conference we asked attendees to send in their own personal data visualizations along with a short description. In our 6 years of hosting Quantified Self meetups and events, as well as running this website, our forum, and social channels, we’ve seen the power of data visualization as a story telling medium. We exist in part to help people tell their stories – about the data they collect, the changes they create, and the insights and new knowledge they’re excited to share.

Today we’re sharing a few of our favorite visualizations from past conferences. The images and descriptions below represent a wide a variety of tracking experiences and techniques, and we hope to showcase eve more unique personal data projects at our upcoming QS15 Conference & Exposition.

Tracking Sleep by Anita Lillie

This is concatenation of screenshots from my sleep app. Most sleep apps don’t let you zoom out like this and still see daily/nightly detail, so I just made it myself. I like that it shows how almost-consistent I am with my sleep, and made me ask new questions about the “shape” of a night of sleep for me.



2.5 Years of My Weight by Mette Dyhrberg

I gained a lot of insights from this heat map. The most obvious weight gain was no surprise — that’s when I periodically don’t track. In any case, the big picture patterns are easily identified with a heat map. Realized looking at this heat map that the point of no return was mid-April 2012 — my data shows that was when I switched protein shakes with an egg based breakfast. I have since experimented and seen that protein shake in the morning seems to keep my blood sugar more stable and as a result my weight under control!



One Month of Blood Sugar by Doug Kanter

This is a visualization of one month of my blood sugar readings from October 2012. I see that my control was generally good, with high blood sugars happening most often around midnight (at the top of the circle).



Tracking Productivity by Nick Winter

My percentile feedback graph of my development productivity helps my motivation.



Six Months of My Life by David El Achkar

This is my life during the past six months. Each square = 15 minutes. Each column = 1 day. This picture represents 138 days or 3,000+ activities.



My Thesis Self Portrait by Sara M. Watson

Here’s a period of a few days of webcam images taken using Stan James’ LifeSlice during the final days of editing my thesis on Quantified Self uses of personal data. Serious business!



Sleep and Meaningful Work by Robby Macdonell

In an average work day, I don’t consider communication (email, instant message, etc) to be terribly meaningful work. I’d much rather be working on building software. Getting more sleep the night before increases the amount of meaningful work I’m likely to do in a day.



70 Days of Pulse by Laurie Frick

Pulse rate over 24 hours for 70 days from my Basis watch. Grey=null, blues=85

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Kouris Kalligas: Analyzing My Weight and Sleep

Like anyone who has ever been bombarded with magazine headlines in a grocery store checkout line, Kouris Kalligas had a few assumptions about how to reduce his weight and improve his sleep. Instead of taking someone’s word for it, he looked to his own data to see if these assumptions were true. After building up months of data from his wireless scale, diet tracking application, activity tracking devices, and sleep app he spent time inputing that data into Excel to find out if there were any significant correlations. What he found out was surprising and eye-opening.

This video is a great example of our user-driven program at our Quantified Self Conferences. If you’re interest in tell your own self-tracking story, or want to hear real examples of how people use data in their lives we invite you to register for the QS15 Conference & Exposition.

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What We Are Reading

Before we get to this week’s list we want to make sure you know about our recent conference announcement. This week we announced our QS15 Conference & Exposition. This will be our seventh conference and is sure to be an amazing event. We invite you to register today!

Now on with the good stuff!

Articles
Why Big Data Won’t Cure Us by Gina Neff. A great research paper in the aptly name journal, Big Data. Dr. Neff specifically focuses on the perils of assuming “all the data” will solve the numerous health healthcare problems and then lays out five elements to consider as data, big and small, becomes part of our healthcare experience.

More Than Meets the Eye: NASA Scientists Listen to Data by Kasha Patel. Apparently the scientists studying the sun have so much data to sift through that listening to signals is a valuable alternative to visualizing it. (via our friend Joost Plattel)

Quantified Dating, Relationships, and Sex by Kitty Ireland. A great series of three posts by Kitty that explores a variety of examples of using self-tracking in the most intimate of situations – dating, long-term relationships, and sex.

A Look Back At the Evolution of Wearable Tech. In the wake of the recent Apple Watch announcement I love being able to look back at the history of different how technology has made inroads into our lives.

Show&Tell
The Baby Measureur by Erich Morisse. Erich is a proud father of a new child and like any new dad with data skills he started tracking some important metrics such as feeding time, feeding duration, and of course diaper changing!

A Day at Burning Man, Visualized Through Health Tracker Data by Gregory Ferenstein. Gregory takes his Basis Band to Burning Man and shows us what he learned.

Visualizations
scotto-prism
My Most Intimate Self Portrait by Scott Ogle. Scott has a wonderful post here about a visualization of his almost 30,000 text messages.

If I look closely, I can see a new job, vacations and a death in the data. I can even see where I moved past it all and stopped feeling the need to communicate so much. It may just be text messages, but it all correlates to things that are really real.

And all of it is captured in this graph.

AmsterdamMap
9 Days in Amsterdam – Tracking my Mobility in Bicycle Wonderland by Patrick Stotz. Patrick traveled to Amsterdam and tracked his stay using OpenPaths. I especially enjoyed how he was able to segment his means of transportation. If you’re interested in maps I suggest take a look at his great checklist for making geodata visualizations and this list of geodata tools.

RunkeeperTime
What Time of Day Do People Run by Data @ Runkeeper. As a runner I can’t get enough of these visualizations and data analyses.

From the Forum
How to Replicate SleepCycle?
What Application Can Monitor My Levels of Energy?
HealthKit
Quantified Baby

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What is a Quantified Self Conference?

If you’ve seen the announcement for our 2015 QS Conference & Expo and you’ve never been to a QS event before you may be asking yourself what our conferences are all about. From our very first meetup in 2008 through our six conferences and numerous events we’ve emphasized the role of the personal story and real-world experience. We do this in a variety of ways.

First, we run our conferences as a carefully curated unconference. When you register, you’re asked to tell us about the self-tracking projects you’re working on and other QS-related ideas you have. Our conference organization team goes through every registration, diving deep into personal websites, Twitter feeds, and blog posts. We love seeing individuals using self-tracking in new and different ways to find out something interesting about themselves and we work hard to surface truly unique and inspiring stories.

How does that manifest itself in the program? The core of our conference program is made up of the nearly two dozen show&tell talks where self-trackers get up and tell their story by answering our three prime questions: What did you do? How did you do it? What did you learn? It may seem simple, but these three questions provide a stable and consistent narrative to inspire you to learn and engage with your own tracking practice in new and different ways.

We’ve spent some time combing through our vast video archive to showcase some of our favorite talks from our previous conferences. We hope you find them enjoyable and they inspire you to join us on March 13-15 in San Francisco for our 2015 QS Conference & Expo. Who knows, maybe you’ll be on stage and we’ll be learning from you!

Sara Riggare on ‘How Not To Fall’
Sara Riggare is co-organizer of Quantified Self Stockholm. She is also an engineer, a PhD student and a tireless researcher of Parkinson’s disease. In this fascinating talk, Sara describes using body sensors to help her control her gait.

Vivian Ming on Tracking Her Son’s Diabetes
Vivienne Ming is an accomplished neuroscientist and entrepreneur. Two years ago her son, Felix, was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. In this talk, presented at the 2013 Quantified Self Global Conference, Vivienne explains what they’re learning as they track and analyze his data

Chris Bartley on Understanding Chronic Fatigue
While on a research trip, Chris contracted Reiter’s Syndrome. After his recovered, something still didn’t feel right. Chris consulted his physician and started tracking his wellness along with his diet and supplement intake. What follows is an amazing story about what Chris learned when he started applying his knowledge of statistics to his own data.

Adrienne Andrew Slaughter on Tracking Carbs and Exercise
Adrienne Andrew Slaughter was testing out a new diet that included carbohydrate restriction. At the same time she was commuting to work on a bike. She started to notice feeling tired and slow during her commutes and wondered if her dietary changes had anything to do with it. Luckily, Adrienne was tracking her commutes and her diet and was able to run detailed data analysis to find out what happens when she goes carbless.

Bob Troia: Understanding My Blood Glucose
Bob Troia isn’t a diabetic and he’s not out of range, but he wanted to see if he could lower his fasting glucose levels. He started a long-term tracking experiment where he tested his blood glucose and began to explore the effects of supplementation and lifestyle factors.

Sacha Chua on Building and Using A Personal Dashboard
Sacha Chua started tracking her clothes to make sure she was varying her wardrobe on daily basis. This led he to ask, “What else can I track?” As she added time tracking, food, library books, and so much more (you can view the whole set on QuantifiedAwesome.com)

Robby Macdonnell on Tracking 8,000 Screen Hours
For the last six years Robby Macdonnell has been tracking his productivity and how he spends his time on his various computers (home and work) and even how he uses phone. Over those years he’s amassed 8,300 hours of screen time. Watch his great talk to hear what’s he learned about his work habits, productivity and how he’s come to think about time.

Sky Christopherson on Self-Tracking at the London Olympics
Sky Christopherson first shared his experience with tracking and improving his sleep in 2012. That tracking led him on a path to achieving a world record as a mastars level track cyclists. Later that year, Sky began helping other athletes us self-tracking and personal data to obtain their best performances, culminating in a surprise silver medal for the 2012 women’s olympic track cycling team, on which he served as a training advisor. In March of this year, Sky and his wife Tamara gave another QS talk at our Bay Area Meetup in which they told the wonderful story of how the 2012 Olympic team rode to their medal, a journey captured in the documentary, Personal Gold.

These are only a small sample of the amazing talks and self-tracking projects that are shared at our Quantified Self Conferences. We’d love to hear your story. Register today and let us know what you’re working on!

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Wrist Wearables: How Many Are There?

In response to the much anticipated reveal of the Apple Watch I did a bit of digging around to find out where we stand with wrist-worn wearable devices. I found over 60 different devices. The following list focuses on self-tracking tools, I intentionally left out those that work only as notification centers or secondary displays for your phone. I’m sure this isn’t all of them, but it’s as good a place to start as any. If you’re using one of these devices to learn something about yourself, or you’re just interested in these type of wearable tools we invite you to join us in San Francisco on March 13-15, 2015, for our QS15 Conference & Exposition.

(Thank you to all those who commented here, on Twitter, and on our Facebook group pointing us to additional devices to add!)

Adidas has two devices:
Fit Smart
Sensors: Accelerometer, Heart Rate (optical)
Smart Run
Sensors: GPS, Accelerometer, Heart Rate (optical)

Angel
Sensors: Accelerometer, Heart Rate (optical), Blood Oxygen, Temperature

Amiigo
Sensors: Accelerometer, Pulse Oximeter, Temperature

Apple Watch
Sensors: Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Heart Rate (optical)

Asus ZenWatch
Sensors: Materials state the ZenWatch houses a “bio sensors and 9-axis sensor.” I assume optical heart rate, accelerometer, and gyroscope.

Atlas
Sensors: Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Heart Rate (optical)

Basis
Sensors: Heart Rate (optical), Accelerometer, Perspiration, Skin Temperature.
(Note: Intel & Basis today also announced the new Basis Peak to be released this year.)

DigiCare ERI
Sensors: Accelerometer, Temperature, Pressure

Epson Pulsense Band/Watch
Sensors: Accelerometer, Heart Rate (optical)

Fatigue Science Readiband
Sensors: Unknown

Fitbit Flex
Sensor: Accelerometer
Continue reading

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Meetups This Week

There are a stellar collection of meetups going on this week. To see when the next meetup in your area is, check the full list of the over 100 QS meetup groups in the right sidebar. Don’t see one near you? Why not start your own!

Tuesday (September 2)
Geneva, Switzerland
The Geneva group will feature a show&tell about tracking weight-loss alongside Basis Band data.

Wednesday (September 3)
Oslo, Norway
The great Oslo group will be having their fourth meeting.

Thursday (September 4)
Berlin, Germany
The Berlin group is adopting a workshop format this week to talk about habit formation.

Cologne, Germany
The Cologne group has a packed program with talks on happiness, healthcare, and cryonics.

Sunday (September 7)
Lincoln, Nebraska
The Lincoln group has a great program that will cover measuring ketosis, the effect of antioxidants on migraines, tracking sleep, and using DNA to inform fitness plans.

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What We Are Reading

Enjoy this week’s list!

Articles
Effect of Self-monitoring and Medication Self-titration on Systolic Blood Pressure in Hypertensive Patients at High Risk of Cardiovascular Disease by Richard McManus et al. An interesting research paper here about using self-monitoring to reduce blood pressure. The paper is behind a paywall, but since you’re nice we’ve put a copy here.

Apple Prohibits HealthKit App Developers From Selling Health Data by Mark Sullivan. Some interesting news here from Apple in advance of their new phone and possible device release in a few weeks. I applaud the move, but would like to see more information about data portability in the next release.

Science Advisor, Larry Smarr by 23andMe. Great to hear our friends 23andMe and Larry Smarr are getting together to help work on understanding Inflammatory Bowel Disease. If you’ve been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis consider joining the study.

Personal Health Data: It’s Amazing Potential and Privacy Perils by Beth Kanter. A lot of people have been talking recently about the privacy implications of using different tracking tools and technologies. In this short post Beth opens up some interesting questions about why we might or might not open up our personal data to others. Make sure to read through for some insightful comments as well.

Show&Tell
Let’s Talk About 3 Months of Self-Quantifying by Frank Rousseau. Frank is one of the founders of Cozy Cloud, a personal could service. He’s also designed Kyou a custom tracker system built on top of Cozy. He’s also been using the services to track his life. In this post he explain how tracking his activity, sleep, weight, and other habits led to some interesting insights about his behavior.

The iPhone 5S’ M7 Predictor as a Predictor of Fitbit Steps by Zach Jones. A great post here by Zach as he explores the data taken from his iPhone 5S vs. his Fitbit.

Using Open Data to Predict When You Might Get Your Next Parking Ticket by Ben Wellington. Not strictly a personal data show&tell here, but as someone who suffers from street sweeping parking tickets somewhat frequently I found this post fascinating. Now to see if Los Angeles has open data…

Visualizations
RWTime
What Time of Day Do People Run? by Robert James Reese, Dan Fuehrer, and Christine Fennessay. Runners World and Runkeeper partnered to understand the running habits of runners around the world. Some interesting insights here!

FitbitMin
What Happens When You Graduate and Get a Real Job by Reddit user matei1987. A really neat visualization of min-by-min level Fitbit step data.

DataDesign
Data + Design by Infoactive and the Donald W. Reynolds Institute. A really interesting and unique take on a data visualization book. This CC-licensed, open source, and collaborative project represents the work of many volunteers. I’ve only read through a few chapters, but it seems to be a wonderful resource for anyone working in data visualization.

From the Forum
Good Morning World!
Quantified Chess
New Activity Tracker to Replace BodyMedia?
Indirect Mood Measures
OPI TrueSense for Sleep Tracking

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What We’re Reading

Ernesto is out for this round, so I’m filling in. I hope you enjoy this week’s list of articles, show&tells and visualizations!

Articles
“Standing Up for American Innovation and Your Privacy in the Digital Age” by Senator Ron Wyden. Access to your personal data is something that we care about and has been a topic of conversation at QS meetups and conferences. During Portland’s recent TechFestNW, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden took a strong stance on the nature of the relationship of the user and his/her data by criticizing the “Third-Party doctrine”.

Digital Health State of the Industry by MobileHealthNews.  In the hype-filled world of digital health, MobiHealthNews is one of the (few) sources we trust for business reports. Their latest quarterly roundup is very well done, as always.

Show&Tell
Better Living Through Data by James Davenport. James has over four years of battery log data from three laptops. By looking at the data, he saw a view of his own computer usage as well as a glimpse of his laptop’s secret life in the middle of the night. If you want to keep logs of your laptop’s battery, you can use the same script.

Visualizations
Which_Cities_Get_the_Most_Sleep__-_WSJ_com 2Which_Cities_Get_the_Most_Sleep__-_WSJ_com

Which Cities get the most sleep? by Stuart A. Thompson. We showed a visualization last week that used UP user data. This visualization is from the same dataset, but I couldn’t pass up showing it because the sleep/step pattern contrast between New York and Orlando is so interesting.

From the Forum
OPI TrueSense for Sleep Tracking
Report App Question
What is your opinion on neurofeedback?

This Week on Quantifiedself.com
Cors Brinkman: Lifelog as Self-Portrait
Eric Boyd: Tracking My Daily Rhythm With a Nike FuelBand
Kevin Krejci: An Update on Tracking Parkinson’s Disease
Mark Drangsholt: Deciphering My Brain Fog
Mark Leavitt: Whipping up My Willpower

Want to receive the weekly What We Are Reading posts in your inbox? We’ve set up a simple newsletter just for you. Click here to subscribe.  Do you have a self-tracking story, visualization, or interesting link you want to share? Submit it now!

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Mark Drangsholt: Deciphering My Brain Fog

One of the benefits of long-term self-tracking is that one builds up a toolbox of investigatory methods that can be drawn upon when medical adversity hits. One year ago, when Mark Drangsholt experienced brain fog during a research retreat while on Orcas Island in the Pacific Northwest, he had to draw upon the self-tracking tools at his disposal to figure out what was behind this troubling symptom.

Watch this invaluable talk on how Mark was able to combine his self-tracking investigation with his medical treatments to significantly improve his neurocognitive condition.

Here is Mark’s description of his talk:

What did you do?
I identified that I had neurocognitive (brain) abnormalities – which decreased my memory function (less recall) – and verified it with a neuropsychologist’s extensive tests.  I tried several trials of supplements with only slight improvement.  I searched for possible causes which included being an APOE-4 gene carrier and having past bouts of atrial fibrillation.

How did you do it?
Through daily, weekly and monthly tracking of many variables including body weight, percent body fat, physical activity, Total, HDL, LDL cholesterol, depression, etc.   I created global indices of neurocognitive function and reconstructed global neurocog function using a daily schedule and electronic diary with notes, recall of days and events of decreased memory function, academic and clinical work output, etc.  I asked for a referral to a neuropsychologist and had 4 hours of comprehensive neurocog testing.   

What did you learn?
My hunch that I had developed some neurocognitive changes was verified by the neuropsychologist as “early white matter dysfunction”.  A brain MRI showed no abnormalities.  Trials of resveratrol supplements only helped slightly.   There were some waxing and waning of symptoms, worsened by lack of sleep and high negative stress while working.  A trial with a statin called, “Simvastatin” (10 mg) began to lessen the memory problems, and a dramatic improvement occurred after 2.5-3 weeks. Subsequent retesting 3 months later showed significant improvement in the category related to white matter dysfunction in the brain.  Eight months later, I am still doing well – perhaps even more improvement – in neurocog function.

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