Ernesto Ramirez

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QS | Public Health Symposium: Margaret McKenna

This week we’re taking a look back at our 2014 Quantified Self Public Health Symposium and highlighting some of the wonderful talks and presentations.  We convened this meeting in order to bring together the research and toolmaker communities. Both of these groups have questions about data, research, and how to translate the vast amount of self-tracking data into something useful and understandable for a wider audience.

As part of our pre-conference work we took some time speak with a few attendees who we thought could offer a unique perspective. One of those attendees was Margaret McKenna. Margaret leads the Data & Analytics team at RunKeeper, one of the largest health and fitness data platforms. In our conversation and in her wonderful talk below Margaret spoke about two important issues we, as a community of users, makers, and researchers, need to think about as we explore personal data for the public good.

The first of these is matching research questions with toolmaker needs and questions. We heard from Margaret and others in the toolmaker community that there is a near constant stream of requests for data from researchers exploring a variety of questions related to health and fitness. However, many of these requests do not match the questions and ideas circulating internally. For instance, she mentioned a request to examine if RunKeeper user data matched with the current physical activity guidelines. However, the breadth and depth of data available to Margaret and her team open up the possibility to re-evaulate the guidelines, perhaps making them more appropriate and personalized based on actual activity patterns.

Additionally, Margaret brought up something that we’ve heard many times in the QS community – the need to understand the context of the data and it’s true representativeness. Yes, there is a great deal of personal data being collected and it may hold some hidden truths and new understanding of the realities of human behavior, but it can only reveal what is available to it. That is, there is a risk of depending too much on data derived from QS tools for “answers” and thus leaving out those who either don’t use self-tracking or don’t have access or means to use them.

Enjoy Margaret’s talk below and keep an eye out for more posts this week from our Quantified Self Public Health Symposium.

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QS | Public Health Symposium: Susannah Fox on Secret Questions and Naked Truths

Personal data, personal meaning. That’s the guiding principle of much of the work we do here at QS Labs. From our show&tell talks and how-to’s, to our worldwide network of meetups and carefully curated unconferences, we strive to help people make sense of their personal data and inspire others to do the same. However, over the last few years we’ve started to see that there is a third actor in the Quantified Self space. Data collected in the ordinary course of life can hold clues about some of our most pressing questions related to human health and wellbeing. Personal data might be a resource for public good.

On April 3, 2014 Quantified Self Labs with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the US Department of Health and Human Services, and Calit2 at UCSD hosted the first Quantified Self Public Health Symposium. We gathered over 100 researchers, toolmakers, science leaders, and pioneering users to open up a discussion about what it means to use personal data for the public good. Over the course of the day we hosted a variety of talks, discussions, and toolmaker demonstrations. This week we’ll be highlighting some of the outstanding talks delivered at the symposium and we’re kicking it off with one of our favorites.

Susannah Fox has been a friend and colleague for many years. Her pioneering work at the Pew Internet and Life Project has inspired us many times over and remains the standard for research pertaining to self-tracking. We asked Susannah to help us open up the meeting by discussing some of her research findings as well as her thoughts on self-tracking in the broader landscape of health and healthcare.

(A transcript of Susannah’s talk can be found on her website here.)

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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

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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Jan Szelagiewicz: Losing 40 kg with Self-Tracking

On July 4th, 2009 Jan Szelagiewicz decided to make a change in his life. After taking stock of his personal health and his family history with heart disease he began a weight-loss journey that included a variety of self-tracking tools. Over the course of a few years Jan tracked his diet, activities such as cycling, swimming, and running, and his strength. In this talk, presented at the Quantified Self Warsaw meetup group, Jan describes how he used self-tracking to mark his progress and stay on course.

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Lee Rogers: Why Annual Reporting

Lee Rogers has been collecting data about himself for over three years. The daily checkins, movements, and other activities of his life are capture by automatic and passive systems and tools. What makes Lee a bit different than most is that he’s set up a personal automation system to collect and make sense of all that data. A big part of that system is creating an annual report every year that focuses on his goals and different methods to display and visualize the vast amount of information he’s collecting. In this talk, presented at the Bay Area QS meetup group, Lee explains his data collection and why he values these annual snapshots of his life.

You can read a transcript of Lee’s excellent talk here and view his 20112012, and 2013 reports on his website.

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Kevin Krejci: An Update on Tracking Parkinson’s Disease

At our recent Bay Area QS meetup, Kevin Krejci presented a short update about the ongoing self-tracking and treatment projects he’s undergoing as part of living with Parkinson’s Disease. Back in January, Kevin first presented his tracking journey and how he’s using different tools to understand and improve his life. Watch his short talk below to see how he’s progressing.

Continue reading

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Eric Boyd: Tracking My Daily Rhythm With a Nike FuelBand

In 2013 Eric Boyd started using a Nike FuelBand to track his activity. Not satisfied with the built in reporting the mobile and web applications were delivering he decided to dive into the data by accessing the Nike developer API. By being able to access the minute-level daily data Eric was able to make sense of his daily patterns, explore abnormalities in his data, and learn a bit more about how the FuelBand calculated it’s core metrics. Watch Eric’s talk from our 2013 Quantified Self Europe Conference to hear more about Eric’s experience.

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Cors Brinkman: Lifelog as Self-Portrait

Cors Brinkman is a media artist and student. In June of 2013, he started a project to keep track of himself. He decided to start with LifeSlice, a tool to have your computer keep track of your behavior by taking a picture, screenshot, and location data every hour. After experimenting with that system Cors added in mood tracking to round out his data collection. In this talk, presented at the 2014 Quantified Self Europe Conference, Cors describes his process and some of the interesting ways he visualized and analyzed his thousands of self-portraits.

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What We’re Reading

It’s a long one today, so buckle in and get ready for some great stuff!

Articles
The Quantified Self: Bringing Science into Everyday Life, One Measurement at a Time by Jessica Wilson. This piece, from the Science in Society Office at Northwestern University, explores the Quantified Self movement, with a particular focus on the local Chicago QS meetup. Always interesting to see how individuals draw distinctions between self-tracking projects and “real science.”

Diversity of Various Tech Companies By the Numbers by Nick Heer. Recently Apple released data about the diversity of their employee workforce. This marked the last major tech company to publish data about diversity. In this short post Nick takes that data and shows how it compares to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Interested in more than just the big six listed here? Check out this great site for more tech company diversity data (Hat tip to Mark Allen for finding that link!)

Intel Explores Wearables for Parkinson’s Research by Christina Farr, Reuters. Intel is in the news lately based on their interest in developing and using their technological prowess for qs-related activities. In this post/press release, they describe how they’re partnering with the Michael J. Fox Foundation to explore how they can use wearable devices to track and better understand patients with Parkinson’s Disease. It appears they’re also working to get their headphone heart rate tracking technology out to market.

Spying on Myself by Richard J. Anderson. I’m always interested in how people talk to themselves about self-tracking. This short essay describes the tools that Richard uses and why he continues or discontinues using them. His follow up is also a must read.

Dexcom Mac Dance by Kerri Sparling. You know we’re fascinated by the techniques and tools developed and refined by the the diabetes community. In this short post, Kerri highlights the work of Brian Bosh, who developed a Chrome extension to access and download data from Dexcom continuous glucose monitors on a Mac. (Bonus link: Listen to Chris Snider’s great podcast episode where he talks to John Costik, one of the originators of the CGM in the Cloud/Nightscout project.)

Show&Tell
The Three-Year Long Time Tracking Experiment by Lighton Phiri. Lighton is a graduate student at the University of Capetown. In 2011 he became curious about how he was spending his time. After installing a time-tracking tool on his various computers, he started gathering data. Recently, after 3 years of tracking, he downloaded and analyzed his data. Read this excellent post to find out what he learned.

Experimenting with Sleep by Gwern. One of our favorite self-experimenters is back with some more detailed analysis of his various sleep tracking experiments. Read on to see what he learned about how caffeine pills, alcohol, bedtime, and wake uptime affects his sleep.

QS Bits and Bobs by Adam Johnson. Adam gave talk at a recent QS Oxford Meetup about his lifelogging and self-tracking, his custom tools for importing data to his calendar, and what he’s learned from his experiences. Make sure to also check out the neat tool he’s developed to log events to Google Calendar.

Visualizations

NikeFibers
FuelBand Fibers by Variable. A design team was given Nike FuelBand data from seven different runners and created this interesting visualization of their daily activity.

SleepWork
I don’t Sleep That Well: A Year of Logging When I Sleep and When I’m at Work by Reddit user mvuljlst. Posting on the r/dataisbeautiful subreddit, this user tracked a year of their sleep and location data using Sleepbot and Moves. If you have similar data and are interested in exploring your own visualization the code is also available.

JawboneCity
In the City that We Love by Brian Wilt/Jawbone. The data science team at Jawbone continues to impress with their production of meaningful and interesting data visualizations based on data from UP users. In this post and corresponding visualizations they explore the daily patterns of people from around the world. Make sure to read the technical notes!

From the Forum
Export Moves Data to Day One
Understanding Patents – All your transmission data belong to us
Quantified Self, It’s Benefits
Sun Exposure and Vitamin D Levels Wearable Tracker

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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Philip Thomas on Building a Personal Dashboard

Philip Thomas is a software engineer at OpenDNS. He’s been collecting a lot of personal data since college, first starting with his custom built beer tracking system. He then moved on to slightly more sophisticated personal data. As the data started to pile up in services and systems he started to explore what it would take to create his own custom personal dashboard. In this talk, presented at the Bay Area QS meetup group, Philip explains how he built his dashboard and why it’s so valuable to him as he tracks his life.

Continue reading

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