Tag Archives: art

What We Are Reading

We’ve collected another fun batch of reading for you. Enjoy!

High tech in vehicles puts drivers’ privacy up for grabs by Karl Henkel.The cars we’re driving are collecting, storing, and in some cases, transmitting all sorts of data. What are the implications of cars as computers?

Are Companies tracking us, or merely “observing” us? by James Robinson. Another privacy piece here. When large corporations collect consumer data are they able to understand us individually, or are they just making observations about general patterns? Don’t forget, we’ve been down this road before.

Here’s what happens when a data scientist goes to Disney World by Derrick Harris. Apparently the theme to start the list this week is consumer tracking. This article takes a look at the newly implemented “Magic Band” system at the Disney World Resort. Disney is clearly leading the field here, but experience augmentation based on personal data is coming very soon to a store near you.

NBA players start wearing wearable health trackers by John Comstock. Not a surprising move here by the the NBA to equip players with wireless healthy and activity tracking systems. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen self-tracking technology being adopted by professional athletes. I for one am looking forward to watching basketball games with integrated player data visualizations.

Self-surveillance: Should you worry or simply embrace your personal data? By Laurie Frick. A great piece here by our friend, Laurie Frick. Laurie is an artist based in Austin (and part of the Austin QS meetup group) that uses self-tracking data as the inspiration for her various artistic explorations. In this piece she explains her work and he feelings about self-tracking.

Home Automation is an EasyHard Problem by Scott Jenson. I’m a big fan of the Internet of Things and look forward to a more connected future. However, maybe our ideas about what is possible are misguided. In this short piece Scott explains that it’s possible we’re not properly classifying the actual problem at hand,  “[...] humans are messy, illogical beasts and simplistic if/then rules are going to create a backlash against this technology.

Summer Internship in Advanced Analytics. Our friends at Pew are looking for interns to work on advanced analytics and data science. We’d love to see a member of our QS Community help them out.

Visualizations of the Week

brianhouseEternal Portraits by Brian House. Facebook uses facial recognition algorithms to know what their users look like. At one point they exposed that data to users as part of the data export feature. Says Brian, “The information is unusable in its raw form without knowing the specifics of Facebook’s algorithm. But as an irrevocable corporate byproduct, the future implications of such data remain unclear.

 

 

xkcd-d3XKCD-style Plots in D3 by Dan Foreman-Mackey. Not a complete visualization per se, but this example demonstrates how to manipulate D3 to show plots in the style of the great Randall Monroe of XKCD.

 

 

 

fb_loveThe Formation of Love by Carlos Diuk. The Facebook data team crunched the numbers and started to learn what happens as users fall in and out of love.

 

 

 

 

Visualizing Health. A great new project from our friends at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and their collaborators at the University of Michigan. Browse the galleries to find scientifically vetted visualization techniques related a variety of health information situations.

From the Forum

Reporter App Question
Drowzy: app made by Board certified Psychiatrist and Sleep Medicine Expert
Fitness tracker and Jawbone Up data analysisa
Sentiment analysis on my own writing
Best iOS app to track water/coffee/alcohol intake?

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What We Are Reading

Here we are again. Another week and another great list of articles, projects, and posts. We hope you find these as interesting as we did.

Data Science of the Facebook World by Stephen Wolfram: “I’ve always been interested in people and the trajectories of their lives. But I’ve never been able to combine that with my interest in science. Until now.” Stephen Wolfram sets his mind and data crunching services and the mounds of data available through the Wolfram|Alpha Personal Analytics service.

There’s an App for That by John-Paul Flintoff:  While many people write about QS, every once in a while a piece stands out as a thoughtful and personal assessment of the meaning of self-tracking. The only major fault with the piece is the accompanying illustration which proclaims that “the overexamined life is not worth living,” a conclusion the article does not actually make.

Disciplinary Power, the Oligopticon and Rhizomatic Surveillance in Elite Sports Academies: Elite athletes and sports programs push Quantified Self tools to their extremes. This article from an academic journal about surveillance discusses the tracking mechanisms employed in elite sports academies that transform performance into a type of numerical language that contributes to new social norms, personas and senses of the self

Refugees of the Modern World by Joseph Stromberg: A common cultural signature in the world of the Quantified Self is the formation of loose-knit groups around common interests and conditions. So it was fascinating to learn of a tight-knit group that has formed around the choice of a common environment in which to live. This is the stort of a self-diagnosed group suffering from “electromagnetic hypersensitivity” who live together in an area of West Virginia in the U.S. National Radio Quiet Zone.

Body 01000010011011110110010001111001 by Stanza: Artists have been playing with connecting #quantifiedself and “smart city” technologies for several years. I think projects like this are useful for opening new channels of thought not yet constrained by utility.

Goggles Can Provide Vital Data and Distraction by Matt Ritchel: Google makers incorporate data streams into heads up displays. But why include text messages? That seems like a mistake.

Thanks  to Joshua Kauffman and Gary Wolf for contributing to this weeks post! If you’ve found something interesting be sure to send it to us and we can post it in the upcoming weeks.

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Self Expression From Performance Data

rwl_sketch_1screen-shot-2012-10-15-at-3-00-43-pm

Typically when we think about Quantified Self and the associated collection and visualization of personal data we’re left struggling in the world of charts, graphs, and other well-worn visualizations. That’s not to disparage those of you who love spending some time tinkering in Excel. Those are valuable tools for understanding and there is a good reason we rely on them to tell us the stories of our data. It’s important to realize that those stories rooted in data aren’t always just about finding trends, searching for correlations, or teasing out significant changes. Sometimes data can represent something more visceral and organic – the expression of a unique experience.

Vincent Boyce is a an artist and designer who spends his free time riding on asphalt and water. Those experiences on his longboard and surfboard led him to starting thinking about how his rides, his performances, could be used as inputs for generating art and “exposing the hidden narrative.” After some tinkering with hardware and software Rideware Labs was born. Vincent has designed and built a prototype sensor pack and custom interface that ingests data from his riding and outputs unique visual representations. As you can see above, these aren’t your typical bar charts.

In his great talk filmed at the New York QS Meetup Vincent describes his motivation behind building his prototype system and his goals for future versions.

This is a great first step in turning data rooted in performance into artistic representations of self-expression. What do you think? What kind of data would you like to see hanging on your wall as works of art? Let us know in the comments!

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Cristian Monterroza: My Autobiography Through Quantification

Cristian Monterroza felt like his life was slipping in a direction that he didn’t like, and was inspired to start tracking by the amazing lifelogging project of artist On Kawara. Cristian started out using several different apps, then created his own app to passively record his daily activities, called wrkstrm. In the video below, Cristian shares the insights he gained from six months of building a self-tracking autobiography, and asks us to consider if we are recording the right things. (Filmed by the New York QS meetup group.)

Christian Monterroza – Autobiography Through Quantification from Steven Dean on Vimeo.

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Numbers from Around the Web: The Simple, Wonderful Art of Tracking

This is a special NFTAW post on a  project we think is full of insight and beauty.

For those of you that were lucky enough to attend the first European Quantified Self conference this past November in Amsterdam you know how inspiring our good friend Laurie Frick can be. Laurie is a visual artist who meticulously and beautifully morphs her own self tracking data into wonderful pieces of art. Personally I find her large scale mood wall installations to be just jaw-dropping.

Phenomenal in her own right, imagine how surprised we were when Laurie emailed us earlier this week to tell us about an amazing story of a school teacher bringing self-tracking and visualization into her classroom. I’ll let Abigail Soto, an art teacher at De Valle High School in Austin Texas, tell you what happened in her own words:

24 hours in the life of a Del Valle student.

On February 1st, 2012 I attended the energetic and interesting gallery talk of Laurie Frick at Women & Their Work in Austin. She counted and tracked her everyday life and inspired me to have my high school student track their lives. My high school is very high poverty and my students have very little opportunity to see art and art galleries. My students love hearing stories about artists and galleries and I couldn’t wait to share my experience from the gallery talk.

On February 2nd I came to school and changed my lesson plan to include the students tracking their lives. I gave the students 24 rectangles in a line on a pre-printed sheet. I simply told them to track their previous 24 hours. One rectangle equaled one hour. The students collectively created a unified key with teenage issues. Blue signified sleep, red for school, pink for makeup, green for cell phone use etc… I did not give them any more requirements. My literal students started at a specific time and chronologically recorded their day while other students recreated their day in a more abstract manor.

The students really had to think about the length of their activities and many were shocked to find out how they spent their time. Students generated many great questions about the project and the artist. Conversations began about the amount of texting in the thousands and how much time is consumed with electronics. A great idea would be to illustrate and calculate the amount of text messages that are sent and received by each student. Some students text over 1000 times per day. Teacher and homework time can hardly compete with cell phones, television, and video games. Just by evaluating their actions they were able to visually see where they placed importance and how they should choose their time wisely.

Once each student completed their color chart they were placed in the hallway for the entire school to see. The key was placed to the side of the color charts and students walking down the hall stopped to figure out what the colors meant. The curiosity grew and non-art students were walking in my classroom asking if they could record their day. The overall experience has been very interesting. I have never been exposed to tracking and have never included tracking in an art lesson. I would like to take this lesson a step farther and do a complete lesson and art installation with my high school students. I think the possibilities are endless. Thank you Laurie Frick for expanding the possibilities in my classroom.

I think that there are a lot of lessons here that we as a community of users and makers can take away. Sometimes we get caught up in the gadgets and new technologies that we associated with real objective data collection. While those tools and web services are fun and provide us with new insights into our lives we mustn’t forget that the tools doesn’t make the tracking happen, it just makes it easier. I was asked at a conference this past week, “All those gadgets are nice, but what about the people who can’t afford them? What do you say to those people?” I think that implementing projects such as the one illustrated by Abigail Soto here is a way to bring people from all walks of life into a practice of self-tracking. Amazing insights can happen with a piece of paper, some lines, and a few colored markers. As an aside, during this same conference I met a woman whose 83 year old mother has been meticulously tracking her blood pressure and blood glucose, not with a fancy smartphone of wifi enabled device, but with good old pen and paper.

The second major lesson I took away from this project is that Quantified Self is a community in the truest sense of the world. We (and if you’re reading this that “we” includes you too) work hard to make sure that anyone and everyone feels that they can take part. Whether it is at a meetup, at a large conference, or in one-on-one discussions there is an amazing current of inclusivity, of togetherness, of intimate and abundant sharing. I’ve never once heard someone pipe up and say, “That’s not self-tracking.” As I read Abigail’s description and looked through those beautiful pieces of data visualization it made me proud that she and her students could feel included in this wonderful movement we are all a part of.

We’ll be highlighting more art projects and self-tracking experiments in future NFATW posts so please feel free to drop me a line and share your story or point out someone’s you’ve seen or read about. Our strength lies in our courage to share with each other.

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Ian Li on Moodjam

In 2006, PhD student Ian Li created Moodjam to let people track their moods in color. At the QS Europe conference last November, he met artist Laurie Frick, who creates beautiful works of art from her data. She mentioned that she was using Moodjam, and this inspired Ian to make a new version of it! In the video below, he walks through the sparkling new version, including some not-yet-released features like aggregated happy vs. sad colors and sentiment analysis. (Filmed by the Pittsburgh QS Show&Tell meetup group.)

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