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QS17 Preview: Managing Parkinsons 8,765 Hours a Year

Selfcare-infographic-English-278x300Sara Riggare: “I will share how I work to keep up with my progressive neurological illness by tweaking and re-tweaking my medications, including what I’ve learned from the most recent changes to my Parkinson’s medication.”

I love this clear illustration of the value of health-tracking between visits to the doctor – especially for disease management. At QS17, Sara will share the insights health tracking has allowed her to glean from decades of experience with Parkinson’s.

Managing Parkinson’s disease requires constant tuning. The symptoms result from decreased dopaminergic signaling from a brain region that helps set the tone for our movements. Without enough dopamine, movement is slow or impossible. Too much and movement is fidgety or ballistic. To add to the complication, the natural levels of dopamine in the brain fluctuate throughout the day – meaning that the same medication  affects a patient differently depending on when it is taken. This makes Parkinson’s management a careful balancing act – not something that can be calibrated in just one doctor appointment per year.

Sara makes great use of the 8,765 hours she’s not in the doctor’s office to keep a record of how exercise, sleep, and shifts in the complicated dosing of her medications influence her symptoms. She has put her self-tracking to scientific use by conducting graduate research at the Karolinska Institute, and has been called “a thought leader in Parkinson’s in the new age of social media.” We’re excited to hear at QS17 how she re-calibrated her doses after adding a new medication to her drug regiment.

Just a few more weeks until the 2017 Quantified Self Global Conference! We can’t wait.

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QS17 Preview: Taking on My Osteoporosis

 Image from National Osteoporosis Foundation

Image from National Osteoporosis Foundation

Justin Lawler: “At the age of 38, I was diagnosed with osteoporosis. After exhausting the usual route of blood tests & scans from the doctors, I took things into my own hands and uncovered deeper health issues underlying the initial diagnosis.”

We normally think of osteoporosis as a condition of the elderly, but bone density loss can begin much earlier in life. It’s more prevalent in people who work desk jobs (moderate activity normally provides physical stress necessary to bone growth and maintenance), and in those who take corticosteroids, and can be influenced by diet. At QS17, Justin will share how he uses several biomarkers, including his microbiome and liver metabolites, to manage factors contributing to his osteoporosis. The data has helped him target specific changes in diet and exercise that have improved his symptoms- and he’ll have brand new data on bone density changes to share with us this summer.

Not enough data exist to explain the links between osteoporosis and metabolism on an individual basis, making data like Justin’s important to our awareness of the cross-system nature of the disease.  He’s one of the many who has acknowledged that “If I saw in real time what my lifestyle was doing to my health ten years ago, I would have changed then”. Justin is a developer and organizer of the active and excellent QS group in Dublin. To see the amazing talks we haven’t had a chance to preview yet, check out our Conference Program. See you in Amsterdam!

Register for QS17

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QS17 Preview: Overthinking Everything I Own

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Matt Manhattan:  I’ll show how my obsession with keeping a visual and textual diary of everything I own changed the way I think. 

Matt Manhattan takes inventory of every item he owns: shirts, ice cream tubs, paper towels, you name it.

Why in the world would someone do this? Is this like Marie Kondo trying to convince you to get rid of half your wardrobe? For Matt, what started as an effort to keep track of his electronics turned into a practice spanning all of his material life. This changed the way he thought about his possessions, and, as a side effect, ended up saving him a substantial amount of money. At QS17, Matt will share what he learned from putting the decision to make a new purchase in the context of his past purchases – purchases whose reasons and costs tend to disappear from our minds unless we have a way to track them and reflect on them.

QS17 – as we never tire of repeating – will be in Amsterdam on June 17/18, 2017. We hope to see you there!

Register for QS17

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QS17 Preview: My AMH Numbers Sucked, But I Made This Baby Anyway

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Whitney Erin Boesel: “In my case, AMH may not be as important as fertility clinics and egg-banking startups want people to believe.”

Women are understudied in most disciplines. Reproductive health is the general exception, but even then research on male reproductive problems often outnumbers that concerning women. One result among many is that our understanding female fertility isn’t as complete as it could be. For example,  anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) levels have been used to estimate a woman’s ‘reserve pool’ of eggs. Though AMH may become the “Gold Standard” of fertility, it still isn’t clear what levels are ideal for each woman. If you’re looking to get pregnant, there is a certain range (high but not too high) that is considered favorable for conception. At QS17 Amsterdam, Whitney is going to share her experience tracking her AMH, attempting to increase it, and finally having a successful pregnancy despite low-ish levels of the hormone. She’ll also hold a breakout session on tracking hormones, menstruation and fertility.

Aside being a new mum, Whitney is a writer, scholar, and active member of the QS community who, among her other work, has written about the incorporation of technology into medicine, Biomedicalization 2.0, and the nature of QS movement, “What Is The Quantified Self Now?

QS17 Amsterdam is coming up in just over a month on June 17-18.
We hope to see you there!

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QS17 Preview: Dashboard of My Life

deSouzaDashboard

David de Souza: I’ve been recording 35 of the most important areas of my life – and using Google Spreadsheets to create a personal dashboard that tracks my progress.

Tracking 35 metrics might seem like a daunting task. Everything from quantum theory to tracking-based anxiety shows that the mere act of observing affects the observed. Automating personal data collection might help us stress less, collect more, and (hopefully) be more accurate.

David has managed to create a streamlined workflow allowing him to record everything from sleep, weight and food intake to productivity, yoga and meditation. At QS17, David is going to share this dashboard and the correlations he’s drawn between diverse aspects of his behavior. He says his dashboard has done ”wonders to keep me accountable, and more importantly, to help me notice when I have fallen off the horse, allowing me to keep on track with my goals.” For those of us (all of us) looking to optimize our workflows and understand our habits, this is definitely a talk to see.

Join us at QS Amsterdam June 17-18, and if you haven’t already, check out our latest program. See you there!

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QS17 Preview: My Life as a Comic Strip

andreascartoon1Andreas Schreiber: I’ll share my automatically generated comics strips of personal tracking.

Could a personalized comic strip change the way you see your data? At QS17, Andreas Schreiber will share what may be the first Quantified Self comic strips. Well, maybe the first actually based on personal data. Andreas is excited to share this project because techniques like this could make self-tracking easier and more fun. Andreas is a founder of PyData Cologne and the Cologne QS Meetup, and an advocate of open source code to help ensure the reproducibility of scientific research. He has previously given a Show&Tell talk on recovering from a stroke and has since founded a company which creates apps to help others do the same.

QS conferences are an amazing place to share ideas shaping the future of wearable devices, precision medicine, and personal understanding. Join us at QS17, June 17-18, in Amsterdam.

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QS17 Preview: Quantifying your Constant Companion

Obsessive_PhoneJoost Plattel: I’ll share my phone usage data, and how changes to my apps have influenced my habits. 

In a little over a month, the global QS community will come together in Amsterdam for the 2017 Global Quantified Self Conference to share what they’ve been learning with personal data. If you’re like me, your phone might as well be attached to your body. As my near-constant companion, my smartphone can a be powerful source of information on everything from my exercise to my communication habits, but can also be a bit of a time sink for mindless procrastination.

Over the past couple of years, QS Amsterdam meetup co-organizer Joost Plattel has been analyzing when he picks up his phone, and for how long. More recently, he’s been looking at how app changes (ahem, deleting Facebook) influence these habits. This summer at QS17, Joost will share the insights gathered from this project. It’s a classic case of how small and often unconscious decisions add up, and that slight behavioral changes can be useful in the long run. Thankfully, Joost is taking the time to do the math. Joost is a data strategist and public speaker interested in creating open source analytics for quantified-selfers. Joost has previously given talks on analyzing his public transit data and what he learned about tracking teams as a part of his startup Qount.us.

QS conferences are organized to support the exchange of ideas, and we’re always inspired by what we learn. The next one is coming up June 17-18 in Amsterdam. We’ll see you there. (Thanks to xkcd for the injection of absurdity).

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QS17 Preview: Data-Based Sculpture

LatLongProj

Stephen Cartwright: I create landscape sculptures based on data recorded over the course of several years. This summer in Amsterdam, I’ll show these images and talk about how I make them.

Sometimes the hardest part of self-tracking isn’t deciding what to track, or even being diligent about tracking. The biggest challenge can be creating captivating visualizations that deliver a message.

Stephen Cartwright is taking data visualization to a new level. He’s the associate director at the School of Art and Design at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and himself an artist who uses self-tracking to create programmable sculpture, 3D acrylic topographies, and even acoustic representations of jet-lag. At QS17, he’ll be sharing some of these fantastic sculptural representations of his data with us.

Stephen is a familiar face at QS conferences. You may have seen one of his moving sculptures at QS15 or his talk on 17 years of location tracking. His art draws inspiration from data he collects about his family’s travels, his exercise, and his interaction with the environment. The results – including moving, color changing sculptures depicting temperatures through the seasons, and animations of his family’s migration through the United States – render an incredible image of change over time.

For those of us looking for clear ways to deliver personal data or research in outside-the-bar-graph ways, Stephen is an inspiration. If you’re an artist, scientist, engineer, doctor, designer, or just interested in the future of self-tracking and how novel data visualization can be used to understand ourselves and the world around us, check out our amazing program and join us this summer in Amsterdam!

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QS17 Preview: Can a Picture Be Worth a Thousand Numbers?

3D Body ScanA year of tracking my body shape with 3D scans
Body shape has been shown to be a better predictor of lifestyle-induced disease than BMI. Three-dimensional body scanners enable the 3D visualization of the body and the extraction of anthropometric landmarks and measurements. I wanted to see how body scanning compared to other ways of measuring physical variations (and how it felt to “get scanned”). 

On June 17-18, the global Quantified Self community will come together in Amsterdam to share what they’ve been learning with personal data.

We weigh ourselves, assess our body composition, and measure our waist and limbs. But would seeing how the shape of our entire body changed over time be a stronger motivator than numerical data? Psychological motivations aside, 3D body scanning may replace BMI as a go-to health measurement. It can help estimate body fat distribution, which correlates with cardiovascular disease and cancer risk. On a fun note, 3D body scans could help us find better fitting clothes.

At the 2017 Quantified Self Global Conference, Laila Zemrani will share how a year of her monthly 3D body scans helped her estimate body fat percentage and how her shape has changed with fitness and postural therapy. You may have seen Laila’s great Show & Tell talk at a recent QS Boston meetup on how strength vs. endurance training affected her body fat percentage. She also recently launched Fitnescity, a company that integrates health data – including 3D body scans – into personal wellness coaching, and contributes data to kinesiology research.

QS17 is the perfect event for seeing the latest self-experiments, discussing the most interesting topics in personal data, and meeting leaders in the Quantified Self community. We can’t wait to see you there.

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QS Amsterdam 2017 Preview: A Year of Psilocybin Micro Dosing

Janet_NEW2Sub-Perceptual Psilocybin Dosing
I’ll share data from my 12+ month experiment with sub-perceptual doses of psilocybin for the purposes of increasing social skills through decreased anxiety and elevated mood, empathy, and verbal fluidity.

As the conference draws closer, we want to share a little about some of the exciting speakers you’ll see there. The conference program is built from the ground up with attendees submitting their projects and ideas when they register. It’s always fun to read about someone’s new self-tracking project or experiment, especially when it involves something we haven’t seen before. Today we’re going to begin our conference previews with an especially novel talk.

Janet Lai Chang is a businesswoman, endurance athlete and “Psychedelics Biohacker”. At QS Amsterdam, Janet will share the results of over a year’s worth of psilocybin microdosing on her mood, empathy and social interactions.

Because most academic funding comes from government entities, psychedelics are often taboo. Investigations into the mood-elevating and potentially therapeutic effects of compounds like psilocybin are slowly being published, but because research tends to average across individuals, subtle personal effects can wash out. Quantification of individual experiences are especially fascinating and valuable. Janet hopes that her experiments can promote both research and personal exploration to help “bridge the gap between the mutually exclusive worlds of work and life”.

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