Search Results for: sleep

What We Are Reading

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One quick note today before we dive into this week’s set of articles and ideas: Did you know we started a podcast? Check out our first episode here and subscribe on iTunes!

Articles

Who Owns Medical Records: 50 State Comparison by George Washington University’s Hirsh Health Law and Policy Program. You’ll never guess how many states have laws that give patients ownership rights for their medical records. Spoiler: ONE.

Want to Improve Health? Help People Use and Share Their Data by Risa Lavizzo-Mourey. Dr. Lavizzo-Mourey, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, shares her thoughts about how access to and sharing data can bring about a Culture of Health:

I believe that, fundamentally, data is all about helping people find new opportunities to pursue optimal health and participate in their own care. That means promoting ways to get, use, and share information about themselves easily and securely.

Technology That Prods You to Take Action, Not Just Collect Data by Natasha Singer. A nice article here that includes some great insights from our friend and community contributor, Natasha Dow Schüll. Are devices being “dumbed down” or are we when we “cede [our] free will to machine algorithms”? Only time will tell.

Can healthy people benefit from health apps? by Iltifat Husain & Des Spence. In this debate, Iltifat Husain and Des Spence discuss different types of health tools, applications, and devices being used by healthy individuals. Do they impact our health for the better? These two physicians duke it out through spoken and written word.

Excavating Old-School Self-Tracking Tools by Jamie Todd Rubin. A short but interesting thought experiment here by Jamie. What would happen if we analyzed the vast troves of “soft” data found in the diaries and journals? What could we find out about our past, our history?

Show&Tell
How We Are Measuring Happiness at Whitesmith by Daniel Flopes. Another interesting example of using the workplace team communication tool, Slack, to gauge and collect information about the emotional wellbeing of employees.

MK_musicListening
Impact of music streaming on my listening habits by Maciej Konieczny. Maciej switched to streaming music in 2013, and it completely changed how he experienced music. In this great post Maciej he describes how exploring his music listening data (from Last.fm, of course), he was able to see just how his listening habits were impacted.

Visualizations

QuantifyingAboutTown Quantified Self About Town by Changyeon Lee. This visualization is part of a project by Changyeon to map artificial light in New York City. Above you see a data visualization of artificial light data around the NYU Tisch Building

 

WeightDiet My year in calories/weight.Data exported from MyFitnesspal by reddit user qwerty2020.

Access Links

In world of health data, enemies may become friends
Why should patients have the right to a copy of their imaging data?
WHO: Share Trial Data
California Launches Initiative to Advance Precision Medicine

From the Forum

Body Analyzing Scales – the maths?
Sleep Apnea Treatments
Central repository for QS dataComparing Steps with BodyMedia FIT and Fitbit Charge HR
How to calculate the impact of activities on pain levels

 

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What We Are Reading

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I’m filling in for Ernesto. I hope you enjoy this week’s list of articles and visualizations!

Articles

Don’t Relax: Uncomfortability Is The New Convenience by Adele Peters. This article looks at some products where a tolerable level of inconvenience is built into the design that prompts healthy actions or occasions for reflection.

Using Biometric Data to Make Simple Objects Come to Life by Liz Stinson. A whimsical project on display at Dublin Science Gallery’s Life Logging exhibition uses household objects to reflect and amplify the signals from your body.

The High Price of Precision Healthcare by Joseph Guinto. This is a fairly in-depth article on the relationship between drug and insurance companies and what happens when drug companies are given incentives for developing medicine for smaller populations. Not a breezy read by any means, but important for understanding the unintended consequences of changes made to the American healthcare system.

If Algorithms Know All, How Much Should Humans Help? by Steve Lohr. An exploration of a quandary that arises from machine learning methods. At what point do the automatic, self-learning processes mature to the point where any human intervention for correction is seen as injecting sullying “human bias.”

Show&Tell

Networking the Coffee Maker by David Taylor. A fun, little project using an ElectricImp micro-controller to track when the office coffee pot was brewing. The author helpfully includes his code.

Using 750words.com and self-quantification by Morris Villarroel. Morris has been using 750words.com for the past three months and reflects on his previous attempts to use the service consistently and how he uses it now.

Visualizations

tDCS_graph-1024x749

My brain on electricity: a 130 day tDCS experiment. This is a fascinating self-experiment where the author tries different tDCS montages while doing thirty minutes of dual n-back training.
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My Path to Sobriety by ERAU. From Reddit, the poster shares the data from an effort to reduce one’s alcohol consumption.

Access Links

Open Humans Aims to Be the Social Network for Science Volunteerism
Los Angeles Unveils Dashboard to Measure Sustainability Efforts
Who Owns Your Data?

From the Forum

Hardware Startup: Tracking Your Hydration
Five years of weight tracking
QS Research – 5 minute survey!
Zeo Sleep Monitor
Google Fit

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QS15 Conference Preview: Glen Lubbert on Tracking Alcohol Consumption

On June 18-20 we’ll be hosting the QS15 Conference & Activate Expo in San Francisco at the beautiful Fort Mason Center. This will be a very special year with two days of inspiring talks, demos, and discussion with your fellow self-trackers and toolmakers, plus a third day dedicated to the Activate Exposition. As we start to fill out our program we’ll be highlighting speakers, discussion leaders, sponsors, and attendees here.

GlenLubbertWe are excited to be having Glen Lubbert joining us at the QS15 Conference & Activate Expo. Glen has been developing tools and systems to help individuals improve their health and wellness for almost twenty years. In his daily life, he’s using multiple QS tools to help him understand himself, such as the Withings scale, Beddit sleep tracker, WaterMinder, Moves, OptimizeMe, and Jawbone’s UP.

During the conference Glen will be giving a show&tell talk about what he’s learned from tracking his alcohol consumption. We spoke with Glen about his talk, and why he decided to start tracking what he was drinking.

“Alcohol is part of the very fabric of our American culture with our founding fathers to our current President utilizing its benefits. Having a couple drinks a day leads to longer lives by reducing stress and promoting sociability.  So what is the right amount and how do we keep our bodies in equilibrium so we’re humming along for a long and happy life?”

Glen has been tracking his consumption, paying close attention to the type of drink, who he’s with, and the reasons/occasion. Specifically, he’ll be sharing what he’s learned by connecting his drinking with other personal variables such physical performance, weight, body fat, pH levels, and sleep.

A breakdown of Glen’s weekly alcohol consumption.

A breakdown of Glen’s weekly alcohol consumption.

We also spoke with Glen about what he’s looking forward to at the conference and he mentioned that visualization and organization of data is particularly interesting to him.

I look forward to seeing any projects or tools that combine data sets into useful visualizations and insights. I’m fascinated with Fluxstream and ZenoBase, and I’m curious to see what else is being done to organize and visualize our personal data tracking tools.

If you’re interested in tracking what you’re drinking, want to speak with an seasoned entrepreneur like Glen, or just want to meet and mingle with our great Quantified Self community members, then register now for the QS15 Conference & Activate Expo. Early Bird tickets are going fast and will be sold out very soon!

Register now!

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Meetups This Week

There will be two Quantified Self meetups getting together this week. Pittsburgh will have a couple show&tell talks from Matt Tornowske and Randy Sargent on the “Qualified Self” and tracking sleep apnea symptoms, respectively.

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! If you organize a QS meetup, please post pictures of your event to the Meetup website. We love seeing them.

Tuesday, March 31
Cologne, Germany

Wednesday, April 1
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Last week was busy for QS meetups and we’re happy to show pictures from Cambridge, Stockholm, Berlin and QSXX-San Francisco! Photos courtesy of Rasmus Peterson, Sune Kaae, Florian Schumacher, and Kate Farnady.

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What We Are Reading

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Enjoy this week’s list!

Articles
Antebellum Data Journalism: Or, How Big Data Busted Abe Lincoln by Scott Klein. A fascinating look back at the history of using data in periodicals. Particular emphasis is give to the story of how Horace Greely, a newspaper editor and congressman, used data journalism techniques commonly employed today to expose issues with congressman travel reimbursement policy in 1848.

Imagining the Future of Health Data by Susannah Fox. Having followed, and participated in, the Data4Health events, all of us here at QS Labs are excited for the release of the full report next week. We’ll also be watching the live webcast. Join us!

2014 Motor Trend’s Best Driver’s Car: How We Test by Kim Reynold. I know what you’re thinking, “What is a car review article doing on this list?” Well, it turns out that Motor Trend not only tracked the vehicles in this year’s testing, but also the drivers. This short article described they methods they used to track the biological signals and facial characteristics of their test drivers to derive emotion, focus, and other data.

Why you patient partners on your research team by Holly Witteman. A brilliant essay on the experiences of a researcher, who also lives with a chronic disease, regarding including patients as part of the research design process.

“[…] these people have saved our research projects countless trips down wrong paths.”

Are We at a Tipping Point for Open Data? by Phill Jones. A fascinating post with a rich amount of information and background on where the research community is in regards to data sharing and data access, and considerations for continuing to move forward.

By The Numbers by Abby Norman. Haunting and special. A must read.

Show&Tell
Narrative Clock By Morris Villarroel. Morris is a great member of our community and the organizer of the Mardid QS Meetup group. In this post he looks back on his nearly 400,000 Narrative Clip photos and breaks down what you can learn from just looking at slices of time across many days.

Quantified Myself – The Beginning By Norbert Berencsy. Norbert takes the reader on a journey of testing and experimenting with different sleep apps. I can’t wait for more posts!

Sweet Dreams are Made of These: Wearable Tech and Extra ZZZ… by Dave Champman. Dave is using an UP24 to track his activity and now this sleep. In this short post, he explains his own sleep tracking and the benefit he gets out of seeing his friend’s an colleague’s data.

Comparing my Fitbit One and iPhone 6 by Eddie Smith. A brilliant and thorough dive into the actual differences in step counts and floor estimation from two devices over daily living and a few specific experiments. My favorite part:

”Rather than get hung up on data accuracy, I think it makes sense to focus on the main goal: move more. I’m absolutely fascinated with the fact that small computers can constantly measure my motion and give me incentive to move more by constantly informing me about my movement patterns.”

Visualizations

GordonBleu_Moves
A Year at Work. Gordon Mei visualizes his time spent at work during 2014 using the Moves app. Makes sure to click through for the full visualization.

purchase_history
Four Years of Purchases by Matt Yancey. Matt was curious how his purchasing habits changed as he moved around, from the suburbs into cities. Fascinating and easy to understand visualization.

FitbitWeather
Weathering the Winter by Fitbit. An interesting visualization of the differences within and across states for physical activity during winter months vs summer months.

Access Links
Astronaut twins study raises questions about genetic privacy
Our Data, Our Health
Study Shows People Act To Protect Privacy When Told How Often Phone Apps Share Personal Information
Data accessibility is key to a successful activity tracking system
The Heart of the Matter: I can’t access the data generated by my implanted defibrillator. That’s absurd.

From the Forum
Heart Rate Monitor for Cardiac Patient
Food allergy/intolerance tests
Want an app or device to track my hormones (esp. estrogen and progesterone)
HRV Expert by Cardiomood data export from phone to excel or some other place

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What We Are Reading

Enjoy this week’s list!

Articles
The inside story of how Apple’s new medical research platform was born by Daneila Hernandez. I know we’ve been talking a lot about ResearchKit lately, but I had to add this fantastic piece on Stephen Friend’s journey that lead him to help bring it out of Apple’s lab and onto our iPhones. Of particular interest was this sentence from a FOIA request on Apple’s meeting with the FDA in 2013:

“Apple sees mobile technology platforms as an opportunity for people to learn more about themselves. “

Your Data Is Not Your Life Story by Michael Humphrey. An interesting take on the influence of machines and algorithms on our ability to understand and tell the stories of our lives.

Data Privacy in a Wearable World by Gawain Morrison. Gawain lists five steps for companies to consider as they beocome the gatekeepers of our personal data. My favorite: “Set up an ethical body”

DJ Patil Talks Nerd to Us by Andrew Flowers. You may know DJ as the gentleman who coined the term “data scientist” or from his groundbreaking work at LinkedIn, or maybe even his new position as the deputy chief technology officer for data policy and chief data scientist at the White House. Regardless, this interview sheds some light on his new role and how he thinks about the power of data at the national level.

Wireless Sensors Help Scientists Map Staph Spread Inside Hospital by Scott Hensley. A great piece on a new research article the described a new digital epidemiology method used to track individuals and infection in a hospital. One can’t help but wonder about the future of this type of system for understanding healthcare interactions now that we have low-cost iBeacon, NFC, and RF technology embedded into our phones.

Sensored City by Creative Commons. Together with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the City of Louisville, CC Science is creating an open-source project to map and visualize environmental data. So great to see this work getting out there.

Show&Tell
ShannonConners_FoodLogging Reflections on my ongoing diet and fitness project by Shannon Conners. Again Shannon wows us with her beautiful and thoughtful explanation on how tracking and visualizing her data has set her on a path to a healthy weight.

“I have now collected enough free-living data in my own n=1 study to quantify what works for me to lose weight and maintain in a healthy range for me — an understanding that largely eluded me up to this point in my life. Not surprisingly, I have converged on the same deficit strategy commonly employed in weight loss studies that treat people like caged rats, closely quantifying their intake and activity to prove that negative calorie balance is the critical factor that causes weight loss. I’m truly grateful that I didn’t need to live in a cage to learn what I have over the past few years. In many ways, learning what I have from my data has helped set me free.”

 

happiness-dashboard Tracking Joy at Work by Joe Nelson. Joe and his coworkers use Slack to communicate at work. He was wondering why sometimes things just weren’t working right so he created a tool to randomly ask himself and his coworkers how he they feel. Results are then displayed anonymously on a dashboard. So cool.

Visualizations
deardata Dear Data by Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec. Two friends track one topic each week and send each other postcards with hand-drawn visualizations based on the data. Absolutely beautiful work.

 

AirTransformed Air Transformed By Stafanie Posavec with Miriam Quick. Two wearable data objects based on open air quality data: Touching Air (a necklace) and Seeing Air (glasses).

 


Laurie Frick – American Canvas. A great interview with our friend and data artist, Laurie Frick. Make sure to watch through to the end.

Access Links
It’s Not Just the Watch: Apple Also Helping Cancer Patients
Americans Believe Personal Medical Data Should Be Openly Shared with Their Health Care Providers
What should we do about re-identification? A precautionary approach to big data privacy

From the Forum
Looking for Android Time Tracking App
Looking for a software / app to track the general health
Heart Rate and Sleep Monitor

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What We Are Reading

Ernesto is in sunny Austin for SXSW, so I’m filling in to gather this week’s articles and links for your reading pleasure.

Articles

Apple ResearchKit concerns, potential, analysis by MobiHealthNews. ResearchKit was a big surprise coming out of Apple’s Special Event this week. It was quite difficult to select just one representative article about the ensuing conversation, so this round-up serves nicely.

#WhatIfResearchKit: What if Research Kit actually, truly, worked… by Christopher Snider. Okay, I failed to keep to one article on ResearchKit. This post chronicles a series of Twitter conversations on the question: if ResearchKit does work, what are the possibilities?

The Electric Mood-Control Acid Test by Kevin Bullis. Thync is a sort of evolved version of a transcranial direct current stimulation (TDCS) device. A technology with a lot of potential and controversy, this article explores why the brain-enhancing effects of the TDCS only work for some people. By the way, if you are a fan of Philip K. Dick, Thync may remind you of the mood organ that was in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Automated Learning by Nichole Dobo. Some school classrooms are experimenting with ”Blended learning”, a method of combining classroom teachers and computer-assisted lessons. A detail that stuck with me is the description of three large displays that show where each student is supposed to go that day, based on the results of the previous day’s lesson.

The Mouse Trap: Can One Lab Animal Cure Every Disease? by Daniel Engber. An in-depth how science’s predominant use of lab mice could be limiting our knowledge of disease. Of relevance to self-trackers because many models of optimal health are in part based on mouse studies.

Show&Tell

2014-Average-Sleep-Stages-by-Day-of-Week

Analyzing a Year of My Sleep Tracking Data by Bob Troia. This is a superb exploration of Bob’s sleep data from 2014 as collected by his Basis watch.

report_1

Notes on 416 Days of Treadmill Desk Usage by Neal Stephenson. The author of Snow Crash and The Cryptonomicon is a long time user of a treadmill desk, but when he began having pain in his left leg, he had to reevaluate how he used his favored tool.

Visualizations

 

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Qualities of #QuantifiedSelf by Christina Lidwin. A fascinating analysis of the #quantifiedself hashtag.

Access Links
First medical apps built with Apple’s ResearchKit won’t share data for commercial gain by Fred O’Connor
Talking Next-Gen Diabetes Tools with Dexcom Leaders by Mike Hoskins

From the Forum
Mood Tracking Methods?
Howto track laptop uptime
CCD or CCR conversion tools?
What gets measured, gets managed – Quantified Self in the workplace
Best ECG/EKG Tool for Exercise
Best iOS app to track water/coffee/alcohol intake?

This Week on QuantifiedSelf.com
QS15 Sponsor Highlight: RescueTime
Quantified Self and Apple’s ResearchKit
Better by Default: An Access Conversation with John Wilbanks
QS15 Conference Preview: Jamie Williams on Tracking My Days
Quantified Self Styles

Lastly, I’ll leave you with a lovely little comic with a message that many self-trackers can relate to.

thesecret-web
The Secret by Grant Snider

 

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The Catalog of QS Meetup Formats

A key insight from watching many show&tell talks is how unique individuals’ self-tracking methods and results are. In a similar vein, there is incredible diversity in the size and personalities of Quantified Self meetup groups around the world. Appropriately, those groups have experimented with different meetup formats to best serve their local Quantified Self communities. This list is a collection of the different meetup formats that our communities have tried. The purpose of this list is partly taxonomical, but mostly inspirational and hope it motivates you to try something new with your meetup group.

If you have any suggestions for additions to this list or tips for successfully running these formats (e.g., “We tried having a group discussion and worked really well for groups under 25 people”), please let us know by here. If you would like to form your own meetup group, it is quite easy. Find out how here!

Note: this list is roughly organized by the frequency of each format, in descending order.

Show&Tell Talks

This is the classic format. The speaker talks (with slides, usually) for 7 to ten minutes with about five minutes of questions from the audience. These talks focus on people’s own data and experience. The St. Louis meetup group had a variation with this format where they screened show&tell talk videos from the website. Detailed instructions for giving a great show&tell talk can be found here.

Themed Meetup

Generally, the content of QS meetups is determined by the content of the show&tell talks. However, some groups like to have a pre-determined theme and organize their program around that. The upside with this approach is that attendees have a sense of what to expect and may start to think about the topic, which can help discussion. The downside to this approach is that it can be hard to find three or more show&tell talks on the same topic. Usually, you can get around this by having a group discussion on the agenda or a show&tell talks on that topic from the QS website. A popular incarnation of the themed meetup are the New Year’s Resolution events seen in January.

Examples:
-San Francisco (stress & calming) on 3/25/15
-Toronto (resolutions) on 1/19/15
-St. Louis (resolutions) on 1/20/15
-Berlin (holiday bio-hacking) on 12/18/14
-Indianapolis (Apple HealthKit) on 11/22/14
-Bogotá (emotions) on 10/1/14
-Dublin (sports) on 9/16/14
-Indianapolis (fasting) on 8/30/14
-St. Louis (romance) on 2/24/15

Toolmaker Talks

This format is similar to the show&tell talk. A person talks about the tool that they are working on with questions afterward. At larger meetups, there can be concerns about these talks being too self-promotional, so an emphasis is placed on that person’s experience with the tool. At smaller meetups, this may not be as much of an issue, because it can be interesting to see what people are working on in a small community. A variation is the “researcher” talk, where an academic presents a study that they have done. This is popular in communities that have a strong university presence. A related version is the “special guest” talk, where an expert or knowledgeable person speaks on a topic that is relevant to the self-tracking community.

Examples:
-St. Louis on 2/24/15
-Cambridge on 2/10/15
-Budapest on 1/21/15

Example of the “special guest” talk:
-Berlin on 9/4/14
-QSXX New York on 8/4/14
-Austin on 7/23/14

Bring Your Own Device/Hands-On Demos

This format has people bring their own devices and allows others to have hands-on time with a product that they’ve read or heard about. If there is enough interest from toolmakers, you can have even formal demos, where the toolmakers are set up at individual tables. This can be incorporated into the social time that precedes most events.

Examples:
-Zürich on 2/10/15
-Pittsburgh on 10/1/14
-Portland on 7/29/14

Examples of formal demos:
-New York on 2/18/15
-Bay Area on 2/2/15

The Meetup Partnership

Sometimes QS organizers will decide to partner with other meetup groups or organization for joint events. Formats for these events take many different forms.

Examples:
-Vancouver (with Hardware Startups in Vancouver) on 11/14/14
-Seattle (with the Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing) on 9/14/14
-Portland (with the Portland Data Science Group) on 7/29/14
-Bay Area (with the D3 User Group) 11/21/13

The Informal Chat

The Informal Chat is similar to the Group Discussion, but it has a couple differences. One is that it is usually held in a more informal location like a pub. Not needing to have a projector opens up more potential locations. The other difference is that the need to stay “on topic” is felt less in this situation. This format works well for small groups under 10 people and can be presented as a “happy hour” event. It can even take place at a person’s house (after all, the first QS meetup was at Kevin Kelley’s house)

Examples:
-Dallas/Fort Worth on 1/13/15
-Seattle on 9/14/14
-Austin on 7/23/14

Group Discussion

The group discussion can be a good way to complement an agenda that does not have enough show&tell talks. You can either picks a discussion topic and kick it out to the group, or use a more democratic method, like the unconference format. I find that arranging people into a circle (if there are about 25 people or fewer) works well for this, but it is not required. As the facilitator, most of your job is to sit back and let people talk. However, you can still shape the discussion by posing questions that help people ponder the issue more deeply. There is also the responsibility to watch for people who are dominating the conversation, and make sure that people who have something to say, but keep getting cut off are given time to speak.

Examples:
-Tokyo on 11/18/14
-Portland on 9/25/14

Workgroup

One of the issues that was identified in the Portland meetup group is that people often are able to go through the step of collecting data, but have difficulty finding time to analyze it. So, they created a time and a space for people to work on and make progress on their self-tracking projects. These sessions begin with introductions and a description of what a person is working on. After that, it usually depends on how many people are there. A few people will find a common interest and get together and converse during the course of the evening. Other times, attendees keep their noses down and focus, with occasional casual banter. What is nice about this format is that it works well with a small number of people. Even if no one talks, people feel satisfied with staying focused and making progress. Once you start having over 15 people, and multiple conversations going, it could feel more like a social function than a work session. But people are generally fine with this. A benefit of this format is that it is unstructured and requires little preparation.

Examples:
-Portland on 1/22/15
-Oxford on 10/6/14

Unconference

With this format, the attendees create the agenda. At the beginning of the meeting, people post ideas for a discussion topic and are assigned a place and a time for that discussion. This format requires at least 20 people, but it is also possible to have a smaller group vote for a single topic to discuss (in that way, it is similar to the Group Discussion. The Vienna group had a variation on this idea by having a central topic, which was “resolutions”, and the smaller discussion topics had to relate to the central topic.

Examples:
-Vienna on 1/29/15

The Group Self-Tracking Effort

This format requires a lot of effort but can be rewarding to try. The way it works is that you ask your community to track a particular thing like sleep or steps for a month. Then, at the end of the month, everyone submits their data. Someone does the analysis and presents the findings at the next meeting. But also, people who participated will give show&tell talks, focusing on their own data. It’s very interesting to see how the individual’s data and experience relates to the findings from the group analysis. For this to work, you have to have a fairly engaged community, and requires a lot of work on the organizer’s part to email people frequently enough to follow through the different stages of the effort. But in the end, you get a great set of show&tell talks.

Examples:
-Portland on 4/22/14

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QS15 Conference Preview: Jamie Williams on Tracking My Days

On June 18-20 we’ll be hosting the QS15 Conference & Activate Expo in San Francisco at the beautiful facilities at the Fort Mason Center. This will be a very special year with two days of inspiring talks, demos, and discussion with your fellow self-trackers and toolmakers, plus a third day dedicated to the Activate public expo. As we start to fill out our program we’ll be highlighting speakers, discussion leaders, sponsors, and attendees here. 

Jamie_bioJamie Williams has been involved with QS for a few years, giving his first show&tell talk at the Chicago QS group in Dec. 2012, and later, after moving to St. Louis, he became a co-organizer of the St. Louis QS group. In the fall of 2014 he gave a fantastic show&tell on exploring his Fitbit data. His  background in software engineering and data visualization has a deep influence on his interests in Quantified Self and self-tracking.

At the QS15 Conference Jamie will sharing his long-standing project to automate the process of continuously tracking what he’s up to during the day. He started out several years ago by building an iPhone app with a UX optimized for continuous tracking, but after using it for a week he found that manual tracking was too tedious and intrusive to be a sustainable solution.

Since then, technology has evolved to the point where it should be possible to automate this tracking using various apps, devices and sensors, whose data can be aggregated together to form a correlated timeline of how I spend my time each day.

habstatsactivities

A visualization of daily activity data taken with a prototype iPhone app Jamie built.

We’re excited to have Jamie joining us at QS15 and asked him a few questions about himself and what he’s looking forward to at the conference.

QS: What is your favorite self-tracking tool (device, service, app, etc)?

Jamie: I use several apps and devices, but I guess the one that seems most useful at the moment is the Fitbit Charge HR. I particularly like the automated sleep tracking.

QS: What are you most looking forward to at the conference?

Jamie: I’m looking forward to networking with other self quantifiers who are interested in activity/time tracking in particular, and hopefully finding potential avenues for collaboration. I’m also looking forward to learning about new tools that people are building.

QS: What should people come talk to you about at the conference (what are you interests and expertise)?

Jamie: I recently pivoted my career into the healthcare space with a position as a data visualization engineer at a large health system. Before that I was an iOS software engineer. One of the difficult problems in QS is how to aggregate the growing body of data streams to build a unified and coherent story that we can use to gain insight about our lives. I’d love to hear how others are approaching this.

QS: What tools, devices, or apps do you want to see at the conference?

Jamie: I’m really interested in seeing the next generation of biometric tracking tools, for example, blood screening. I’m also curious to learn of any projects centered around information radiators/dashboards for personal QS tracking.

QS: What topic do you think that Quantified Self community is not talking enough about?

Jamie: One of the recurring challenges in this space for any kind of tool or technique is: how to find the sweet spot balance between automated tracking and user engagement? Tracking diet is a good example: I don’t do it because it requires too much manual effort, but would love to have the data. Tracking my financial transactions, on the other hand, is completely automated, which is good, but I have almost no daily engagement with that data. The really hard problem is to find a way to automate data tracking while at the same time presenting the info to the user in a timely and compelling way that can impact their behavior.

Jamie’s session is just one of the many hands-on, up-to-date, expertly moderated sessions we’re planning for the QS15 Global Conference and Exposition. We’ve made some early bird tickets available for readers of the Quantified Self blog (for a limited time):

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QS15 Sponsor Highlight: RescueTime

In the lead up to our QS15 Global Conference and Activate Expo, we’re going to highlight our partners and sponsors that help us produce our events. If you’re interested in sponsoring our work or events, please get in touch. 
QS15_RescueTimeMost of us spend a large percentage of our time at work. Next to sleeping, it’s likely the activity we do the most. Just like tracking sleep or exercise, there are a lot of things to be learned from tools that help an individual examine their time at work. RescueTime is such a tool.

RescueTime was co-founded by Robby Macdonell, a long time contributor to the QS community. Robby and his co-founders developed RescueTime to answer questions like: How much time do I spend on Twitter each day? Is Outlook my main time sink? Am I coding or daydreaming?

RescueTime_ERgraph
My 2014 RescueTime data. Yes, I spend way too much time in email – 314 hours in 2014. 

We’ve collected a few of our favorite examples of individuals using RescueTime to understand themselves and their work, starting with Robby’s own show&tell talk from our 2013 Quantified Self Global conference.

Robby Macdonnell: Tracking 8,300 Screen Hours
Robby works on product at RescueTime and has been tracking how he uses his computer and even his phone for over six years. In the fall of 2013 he presented his data and what he learned from tracking over 8,000 hours of screen time including how to do what we all only dream about  - spending less time in email.


Robby also wrote up a fantastic blog post detailing a few different ways you can use RescueTime for interesting self-tracking projects: Getting the most out of RescueTime for your Quantified Self Projects

Buster Benson: How I use RescueTime
In 2011 Buster presented his “no input required” data capture using RescuTime. In this talk he describes how he used the data to better understand how he worked, what constitutes good and bad weeks, and how this data has become “a meaningful reflection of what I’m actually doing.”

Jamie Todd Rubin: How I Used RescueTime to Baseline My Activity in 2014 and Set Goals for 2015
In this excellent blog post, Jamie writes about his methods for using RescueTime to understand how he spent his time while working on his various computers. He describes how he used RescueTime data to better understand his time spent writing and how that data is helping him plan for the future. Jamie is a great resource for ideas related to exploring RescueTime data. Make sure to check out how he used it to find out what time of day he was actually writing.

Bob Tabor: Productivity, the Quantified Self and Getting an Office
Bob used RescueTime to analyze his productivity after becoming curious about the quantity and quality of his work while working at home. The ability to measure meaningful and productive work prompted him to find an office after he realized that he wasn’t as productive at home as he assumed.

Tamara Hala: On Using RescueTime to Monitor Activity and Increase Productivity
Tamara has been using RescueTime since 2012, sometimes even forgetting it was running in the background while she worked! In this excellent post she describes what she found out on a year-by-year basis and how it has impacted her work and productivity.

We hope to see you at the upcoming QS15 Conference and Activate Expo where you can meet with members of the RescueTime team and learn more about their tool in person.

There are excellent opportunities for getting involved in the QS15 Global Conference and the QS Activate exposition as a sponsor, including very affordable sponsor tickets, sponsored demos, and exhibit activations produced in collaboration with QS Labs and our production partner e2k Events. For more info, please get in touch.

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