Tag Archives: articles

What We Are Reading

We hope you enjoy this week’s list of articles, posts, show&tell descriptions, and visualizations!

Articles
I’m Terrified of My New TV: Why I’m Scared to Turn This Thing On — And You’d Be, Too by Michael Price. Michael, a lawyer at the Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law, describes his experiences with his new “smart” TV. More sensors means more records being stored somewhere you might not have access to. Especially interesting when your device picks up every word you say:

“But the service comes with a rather ominous warning: ‘Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party.’ Got that? Don’t say personal or sensitive stuff in front of the TV.”

Public Perceptions of Privacy and Security in the Post-Snowden Era by Mary Madden. A great report from the Pew Research Internet Project. I don’t want to give away any of the juicy stats so head over and read the executive summary.

This Is What Happens When Scientists Go Surfing by Nate Hoppes. It’s not all privacy talk this week. This is a fun article exploring how new sensors and systems are being used to monitor surfers as they train and practice.

How Private Data is Helping Cities Build Better Bike Routes by Shaun Courtney. We covered the new wave of personal data systems and tools feeding data back into public institutions a bit before. Interesting to hear that more cities are investing in understanding their citizens through the data they’re already collecting.

What Do Metrics Want? How Quantification Prescribes Social Interaction on Facebook by Benjamin Grosser. Ben is most commonly known around the QS community as the man behind the Facebook Demetricator, a tool to strip numbers from the Facebook user interface. In this article, published in Computational Culture, he lays out an interesting argument for how Facebook has created a system in which the users, “reimagine both self and friendship in quantitative terms, and situates them within a graphopticon, a self-induced audit of metricated social performance where the many watch the metrics of the many.”

Show&Tell
The Cubicle Gym by Gregory Ferenstein. Gregory was overweight, overworked, and in pain. He started a series of experiments to improve his help, productivity, and wellbeing. I enjoyed his mention of using the Quantified Mind website to track cognition. If you find his experience interesting make sure to read a previous piece where he explains what happened when he replaced coffee with exercise.

Maximizing Sleep with Plotly and Sleep Cycle by Instructables user make_it_or_leave_it. A really nice step by step process and example here of graphing an making sense of Sleep Cycle data.

ToiletMatters Toilet Matters by Chris Speed. A super interesting post on what a family was able to learn by having access to data on of all things, the amount of toilet paper left on a roll and when it was being used. Don’t forget to read all the way to end so you can get to gems like this:

“[…]the important note is that the source of this data is not only personal to me, it is also owned by me. We built the toilet roll holder and I own the data. There are very few products or smart phone apps that I can say the same about. Usually I find myself agreeing to all manner of data agreements in order to get the ‘free’ software that is on offer. The toilet roll holder is then my first experience of producing data that I own and that I have the potential to begin to trade with.“

Visualizations
e-traces-lesia-trubat-01_800 E-Traces by Lesia Trubat. A beautiful and fun project by recently graduated design student, Lesia Trubat. Using adruinos and sensors places on the shoes of dances she was able to create unique visualizations of dance movement. Be sure to watch the video here.

 

jepricer Animated Abstractions of Human Data by James E. Pricer. James is an artist working on exposing self-collected data in new and interesting ways. Click through to see a dozen videos based on different types of data. The image above is a capture from a video based on genotypes derived from a 23anMe dataset.

The Great Wave of Kanagawa by Manuel Lima. Although this is an essay I’m placing it here in the visualization section because of it’s importance for those working on the design and delivery of data visualizations. Manuel uses the Great Wave off Kanagawa as a wonderful metaphor for designing how we visually experience data.

D3 Deconstructor by UC Berkeley VisLab. A really neat tool here for extracting and repurposing the data powering at D3.js based visualization.

From the Forum
myStress
Diagnosed sleep apnea. Looking for metrics pre/post treatment
Trend Research
New Self Quantifier
Memosee

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What We're Reading

Enjoy this week’s list!

Articles
The Five Modes of Self-Tracking by Deborah Lupton. One of our favorite sociologists, Deborah Lupton, explores the typologies of self-trackers she’s identified for an upcoming paper. A very nice and clear explanation of the self-tracking practices in regards to different “loci of control.” (Make sure to also read Deborah’s great post, “Beyond the Quantified Self: The Reflexive Monitoring Self“)

In-Depth: How Activity Trackers are Finding Their Way Into the Clinic by MobiHealthNews. An interesting look at the recent influx FDA-cleared activity and movement trackers and how clinicians are looking to use them. Surprising to me is the lack of data access for the patient in these devices (at least on first glance).

The Reluctantly Quantified Parent by Erin Kissane. As a new mother, Erin was hesitant to use what she deemed “anxious technology.” After some hard nights of little sleep she began to slowly incorporate some self-tracking technology into her routine with her newborn daughter. A great read about using tools then putting them away once they’ve served their purpose. (Reminded me of this great talk by Yasmin Lucero.)

Show&Tell
Returns to Leisure by Tom VanAntwerp. Tom was interested in his return on investment from his leisure time actives. He tracked his time spent in different non-work activities for two weeks and calculated the cost of participating in those activities.

The Quantified Microbiome Self By Carl Zimmer. The great science writer, Carl Zimmer, writes about a recent experiment and journal article by two MIT researchers who tracked their microbiome every day for a year. Fascinating findings, including a successful self-diagnosis of salmonella poisoning. You can also read the original research paper here.

Better Living Through Data by James Davenport. We recently highlighted one of James’ posts on how his laptop battery tracking led him to understand his computer use habits. In this post he dives deeper into the data.

Visualizations
citibike2

A Personal Analysis of 1 Year of Using Citibike by Miles Grimshaw. Miles was interested in understanding more about his use of the Citibike bike share system in New York City. Using some ingenious methods he was able to download, visualize, and analyze his 268 total trips. I especially appreciate his addition of a simple “how-to” so other Citibike users can make the same visualizations.

RunkeeperinR

Visualizing Runkeeper Data in R by Dan Goldin. In 2013 Dan ran 1000 miles and tracked them using the popular Runkeeper app. Runkeeper has a quick and easy data export function and Dan was able to download his data and use R to visualize and analyze his runs. (Bonus Link: If you’re a Runkeeper user you might be interested in this fantastic how-to for making a heatmap of your runs.)

From the Forum
Google Fit
Breakout: Productivity Tracking
Track Your Phone Addiction
Activity Tracking Without Online Requirement
Quantified Self – It’s Benefits

This Week on Quantifiedself.com
Natty Hoffman: The Enlightened Consumer
QSEU14 Breakout: Passive Sensing With Smartphones
Jenny Tillotson: Science, Smell, and Fashion
Paul LaFontaine: We Never Fight on Wednesdays
Vanessa Sabino on Tracking a Year of Sleep

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What We Are Reading

A nice long list of amazing posts, show&tells, and visualizations for you!

Articles
Social Wearables by Noah Feehan. In this blog post, from the New York Times R&D lab, Noah expands on the idea of measurement and tracking devices that support “social affordances.” Fits in nicely with our post from Rain Ashford on “Emotive Wearables”.

Have Professional CGMs Passed Their Prime? by Will Dubois. In our continued exploration of the role of data access in the diabetes community we have run across many interesting stories. Wil’s amazing post here describes how some people with diabetes are never given access to what could be the most important data in their lives.

How the Technological Design of Facebook Homogenizes Identity and Limits Personal Representation by Ben Grosser. Each piece of software we use has built-in methods that allow or do not allow us to represent ourselves to the world in a personally relevant manner. In this article, Ben Grosser, describes the various methods that the largest online identity platform uses to curtail freedom of identity expression. (For those interested in Ben’s work, we suggest reading our post about his “Demetricator” project.)

Qualitative Self-Tracking and the Qualified Self by Mark Carrigan. In this post, Mark makes the case for measurement of and reflection on the quality of our human experiences to engage in qualitative self-tracking:

“… using mobile technology to recurrently record qualities of experience or environment, as well as reflections upon them, with the intention of archiving aspects of personal life that would otherwise be lost, in a way susceptible to future review and revision of concerns, commitments and practices in light of such a review.”

Why Silicon Valley Needs the Coder GRRLS of Double Union, the Feminists Hacker Space by Rebecca Greenfield. A wonderful profile of the Double Union hacker/maker space for women in San Francisco. Directed by our friend, Amelia Grenhall, Double Union is making a real difference for the female and feminist community.

What is Public? by Anil Dash. A great post here by Anil Dash on why we need to fight to define “public” in an era where communication and information is increasingly occurring in online media platforms.

“By continuing to stretch the definition of what’s public, and to expand the realm of what’s considered acceptable use of public information, we enable a pervasive surveillance culture.”

Show&Tell
“Letting Go of Things We Can’t Control” + Remembering That Sleep Matters by Dana Lewis. We’ve shared Dana’s and Scott’s work on their DIY Pancreas project in the WWAR list before and we will probably share it again in the future. For now, this is an excellent post about how Dana was able to turn a long-distance relay race into a learning opportunity.

An Experiment: The Psychic Impact of Our Connected Lives by Deborah Schultz. Deborah, a co-founder of the YxYY festival, discusses why she downloaded the Red Alert, an app to inform and warn Israelis about incoming rocket attacks, and what she experienced after a week of near constant alerts.

Using RescueTime to Answer the Question: When Do I Write? by Jaime Todd Rubin. Another great post by Jaime explaining how he uses the RescueTime personal tracking software to learn more about his writing habits. For those interested, Jaime also has a nice article here about his thoughts on getting started with self-tracking.

Visualizations

reportr
Reportr.io by Sammy Pessé. Personal data dashboards are becoming more common on the web, a way to reflect your data back to the world at large. Sammy Pessé recently released an open-source project to help you get started with creating your own personal data dashboard.

DJ_fitbit_heatmap
Dave Jacoby’s Fitbit Heatmap by Dave Jacoby. Dave piped up on my Twitter feed during a discussion about using the popular If This Then That web service to save self-tracking sensor data. It turns out he’s been doing some really interesting data processing and visualizing work with his Fitbit data. Learn more about what he’s up to on his Github project page.

JawboneMealWheel
Meal of Fortune by Emi Nomura. Emi is a data scientist at Jawbone and is working on their UP tracking system. This data project was intended to look at what types of foods people eat together. Make sure to click through for the interactive visualization.

VizRisk Challenge. From our friends at the US Department of Health and Human Services comes the first government-backed competition to visualize behavioral health data. We’d love to see our QS community get involved.

From the Forum
Access to Data from Clinical Trials
What do you find to be the most valuable metrics and how do you track/plot them all?
Tracking Music Activities
Tracking HRV During the Workday
Data Aggregation

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What We Are Reading

Another long list of interesting stuff we’ve been reading this week. Enjoy!

Articles and Posts
Pilot at Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess gives patients electronic access to therapists’ notes by Lena H. Sun. Should patients be able to read their therapist’s notes? A hospital in Boston is experimenting with that idea. This work was inspired by a project from our friends at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation called Open Notes.

What If Our Refrigerators Get A Little Too Smart? by Owen Thomas. Are we setting up ourselves for a algorithmic controlled future of connected systems? Owen Thomas paints a slightly disturbing picture here in just a few sentences. (If someone writes a utopian rebuttal I would love to hear it.)

Google vs. our humanity: How the emerging “Internet of Things” is turning us into robots by Evan Selinger. Another nice piece on the ever increasing role algorithms have in our lives. I found the article well researched and full of interesting examples, least of not is the delegation of works onto wedding planners. (I was also tickled to learn that the chief economist at Google is named Hal.)

The United States of Metrics by Bruce Feiler. Apparently negativity is a theme this week. In this piece the author attempts to make the case that in using data to track understand your life, you are giving up the essence of life itself:

“Big Brother isn’t our big enemy anymore. It’s Big Self. That hovering eye in the sky watching every move you make: It’s you.”

The United States of Metrics isn’t such a bad thing by Nathan Yau. A short but great rebuttal to to the perceived grouchiness in Bruce Feiler’s piece mentioned above.

Here’s how I see it: I strongly believe in going with your gut instincts. It’s led me in the right direction more often than not. But, sometimes I move in the wrong direction, or I don’t know enough about a subject and all I have is uncertainty. If there’s data there to help then all the better.

Personal data and the quantified self – things you ought to know by Vicky Sargent. This is a nice review of the book, Hacking H(app)iness, by John C. Havens, which in part details how Quantified Self and tracking can influence happiness and mental wellbeing. (Editors note: A short book review of Hacking Happiness is forthcoming in a future What We’re Reading post.)

Data Ethic Workshop. Not an article, but a call for participation at a workshop on data ethics at the International Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining. Definitely something I’ll be keeping my eye on and will post papers as they become available.

What the Right Dashboard Can Do For Your Data by Thursday Bram. A nice overview of some available data dashboard systems and how dashboards can be useful for understanding multiple streams of personal data.

Show&Tell
A Look at a Few Months of HR and HRV Measurements by Marco Altini. Marco explains how he tracked his heart rate and heart rate variability while preparing for a half marathon and what he learned after 3 months of data collection. Take the time to read through this excellent post. It is really worth your while.

100 Blocks – A ‘Quantified Self’ Random Walk Experiment by Peter Gilks. Inspired by the mathematical concept of a Random Walk, Peter set out with his wife to let chance direct a 6-hour journey in New York City. Tracking all the way.

Quantified Jewel by Jewel Loree. Jewel has been tracking her music listening with Last.fm for years. After showing her pattern of music profiles to a colleague she was inspired to start looking deeper to answer an intriguing question, “What was I listening to sadder music every couple of weeks?”

Visualizations
Tablea’s Quantified Self Viz Contest. Notice anything about a few of those Show&Tell links above? They’re using Tableau as a their visualization platform. Tableau is hosting a Quantified Self Visualization contest. If you have some tracking data and want to share a unique visualization then you enter this contest and you just might win a chance to attend their annual conference. Contest ends May 26th.

percentfeedbackPercentile Feedback by Noah Slater. This is actually a combination visualization and tracking tool. Based on the great work of our dearly missed friend, Seth Roberts, and adaptations by Nick Winter, Noah has created a nice open-source project so you can experiment with Percentile Feedback. (Watch this talk by Nick to learn how he uses Percentile Feedback for productivity.)

 

 

UjiUji Wall Clock. This arcticle and interview with Ivor Williams explains why he built a clock who’s hands move to an individual’s heart rate. You can also see a video of the clock “in motion” here.

 

 

 

SC_kineticfrequencyKinetic Frequency. I’m a big fan of Stephen Cartwright’s work around designing physical installations that feed on location data. This new work uses color and and a 10×10 grid of movable columns to “display an infinite number of topographies based on a wide variety of inputted data.”

 

 

 

From the Forum

Best Pulse Oximeter for All-Night Logging?

Physical/Blood Work?

Breakout: Aggregator platforms: Understanding data?

Where Do You Keep Your Version of MyLifeBits?

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