How many times during the course of the day do you find your mental state drifting into negativity, feeling like you’re lost, or just plain stressed? How could you even keep track of this, and why would you want to?
What Did Paul Do?
Paul LaFontaine has been tracking what he calls “upsets” to better understand himself, the way he works, and to see if he can improve his mental and physiological response and recovery.
Upsets are something physiological that were happening beneath the surface, and they’re trackable. It didn’t have to be emotional, but there had to be a signal. This project is part of an longer ongoing study. Before this current iteration I manually logged over 3,000 upsets and what I found is that most of my upsets were self-induced. I’d be in a calm environment, but then become upset about something. I wanted to use technology because I was afraid of bias and I know I was missing some upsets.
How Did He Do It?
I used the HeartMath EMWave2 that measures heart rate variability and indicates when you’re in and out of coherence. When I was out of coherence I captured that as an upset. I would stop what I was doing and use an audio recorder to keep track of the time, how long I was upset, the reason, and what method I used to recover. I tracked 71 sessions (each session was 25-45 minutes) totaling 42 hours of tracking time. I logged 1292 upsets during this period.
What Did He Learn?
Paul analyzed his data and found some very interesting insights about his upsets, his reasons for being upset, and the effectiveness of his recovery techniques.
I found that I was triggering an upset every 2 minutes. My wife said something must be wrong with me, but this stayed relatively constant through the tracking period. I started to think of it like skiing a mogul course. The moguls didn’t move, it was about how effective I could move through them. And, dealing with upsets is like playing whack-a-mole. They come fast and furious and every second counts.
For recovery I was able to find that my most effective technique was breathing. By returning to six breaths per minute routine I was able to improve recovery time from 33 seconds to 17.8 seconds. It was the primary way I could remove myself from being upset and make myself calmer.
We want to thank Paul for presenting this great QS project at the Bay Area QS Meetup group. Make sure to watch the full talk below to learn more about Paul’s methods and findings, then hop over to his website where you can read about how he tracked his stress during this talk.
We’re posting a quick note today to let you know that we’ve updated our “How To Download Your Fitbit Data” post. It now included separate instructions for both the old and new versions of Google Spreadsheets. This is just the first in a series of planned updates. We hope to post additional updates to allow you to have deeper access to your Fitbit data including, heart rate, blood pressure, and daily goal data.
If you’re using this how-to we’d love to hear from you! Are you learning something new? Making interesting data visualizations? Discussing the data with your health care team? Let us know. You can email us or post here in the comments.
We hope you enjoy this week’s list!
Big Data in the 1800s in surgical science: A social history of early large data set development in urologic surgery in Paris and Glasgow by Dennis J Mazur. An amazing and profoundly interesting research paper tracing the use of “large numbers” in medical science. Who knew that is all began with bladder stones!
Civil Rights, Big Data, and our Algorithmic Future by Aaron Rieke, David Robinson and Harlan Yu. A very thorough and thoughtful report on the role of data in civil and social rights issues. The report focuses on four areas: Financial Inclusion, Jobs, Criminal Justice, and Government Data Collection and Use.
Caution in the Age of the Quantified Self by J. Travis Smith. If you’ve been following the story of self-tracking, data privacy, and data sharing this article won’t be all that surprising. Still, I can’t help but read with fascination the reiteration of tracking fears, primarily a fear of higher insurance premiums.
Patient Access And Control: The Future Of Chronic Disease Management? by Dr. Kaveh Safavi. This article is focused on providing and improving access and control of medical records for patients, but it’s only a small mental leap to take the arguments here and apply them all our personal data. (Editors note: If you haven’t already, we invite you to take some time and read our report: Access Matters.)
Perspectives of Patients with Type 1 or Insulin-Treated Type 2 Diabetes on Self-Monitoring of Blood Glucose: A Qualitative Study by Johanna Hortensius, Marijke Kars, and Willem Wierenga, et al. Whether or not you have experience with diabetes you should spend some time reading about first hand experiences with self-monitoring. Enlightening and powerful insights within.
Building a Sleep Tracker for Your Dog Using Tessel and Twilio by Ricky Robinett. Okay, maybe not strictly a show&tell here, but this was too fun not to share. Please, if you try this report back to us!
Digging Into my Diet and Fitness Data with JMP by Shannon Conners, PhD. Shannon is a software development manager at JMP, a statical software company. In this post she describes her struggle with her weight and her experience with using a BodyMedia Fit to track her activity and diet for four years. Make sure to take some time to check out her amazing poster linked below!
The following two visualizations are part of Shannon Conners’ excellent poster detailing her analysis of data derived from almost four years of tracking (December 2010 through July 2014). The poster is just excellent and these two visualizations do not do it justice. Take some time to explore it in detail!
Tracking Energy use at home by reddit user mackstann.
“The colors on the calendar represent the weather, and the circles represent how much power was used that day. The three upper charts are real-time power usage charts, over three different time spans. I use a Raspberry Pi and an infrared sensor that is taped onto my electric meter. The code is on github but it’s not quite up to date (I work on it in bits and pieces as time permits I have kids).”
Today we are excited and honored to announce that Steven Jonas has joined QS Labs as our Senior Editor/Information Architect. As has been the case with previous additions to QS Labs, we welcome Steven as a friend and fellow community member. Steven serves as a co-organizer of the Portland QS meetup group, and has participated as our speaker coordinator for our past two conferences.
In addition to his work supporting our global QS community, Steven is an active self-tracker, having engaged in many different projects. We’ve been delighted to highlight a few of those here on the QS website. We invite you to welcome Steven and get to know him a bit by exploring the posts linked below.
Photo by Mark Krynsky
Like many of us, James Norris remembers his first kiss. Unlike many of us, he also knows who it was with, where it was, and his age. How does he know this information? When he was 13, he realized that he forgot some detail about his life that he thought was important. To prevent that from happening again, he decided to carry around sticky notes to record important life events and has been doing it ever since. Fast forward 15 years and James has recorded 1,500 “firsts.” Watch this talk, presented at the Washington DC QS meetup group, to hear James talk about the data he collects, and the lessons he’s learned along the way.
At our 2013 Quantified Self Global Conference we were excited to share a variety of beautiful and insightful data visualizations from our community. In the months leading up to the conference we asked attendees to send in their own personal data visualizations along with a short description. In our 6 years of hosting Quantified Self meetups and events, as well as running this website, our forum, and social channels, we’ve seen the power of data visualization as a story telling medium. We exist in part to help people tell their stories – about the data they collect, the changes they create, and the insights and new knowledge they’re excited to share.
Today we’re sharing a few of our favorite visualizations from past conferences. The images and descriptions below represent a wide a variety of tracking experiences and techniques, and we hope to showcase eve more unique personal data projects at our upcoming QS15 Conference & Exposition.
Tracking Sleep by Anita Lillie
This is concatenation of screenshots from my sleep app. Most sleep apps don’t let you zoom out like this and still see daily/nightly detail, so I just made it myself. I like that it shows how almost-consistent I am with my sleep, and made me ask new questions about the “shape” of a night of sleep for me.
2.5 Years of My Weight by Mette Dyhrberg
I gained a lot of insights from this heat map. The most obvious weight gain was no surprise — that’s when I periodically don’t track. In any case, the big picture patterns are easily identified with a heat map. Realized looking at this heat map that the point of no return was mid-April 2012 — my data shows that was when I switched protein shakes with an egg based breakfast. I have since experimented and seen that protein shake in the morning seems to keep my blood sugar more stable and as a result my weight under control!
One Month of Blood Sugar by Doug Kanter
This is a visualization of one month of my blood sugar readings from October 2012. I see that my control was generally good, with high blood sugars happening most often around midnight (at the top of the circle).
Tracking Productivity by Nick Winter
My percentile feedback graph of my development productivity helps my motivation.
Six Months of My Life by David El Achkar
This is my life during the past six months. Each square = 15 minutes. Each column = 1 day. This picture represents 138 days or 3,000+ activities.
My Thesis Self Portrait by Sara M. Watson
Here’s a period of a few days of webcam images taken using Stan James’ LifeSlice during the final days of editing my thesis on Quantified Self uses of personal data. Serious business!
Sleep and Meaningful Work by Robby Macdonell
In an average work day, I don’t consider communication (email, instant message, etc) to be terribly meaningful work. I’d much rather be working on building software. Getting more sleep the night before increases the amount of meaningful work I’m likely to do in a day.
70 Days of Pulse by Laurie Frick
Pulse rate over 24 hours for 70 days from my Basis watch. Grey=null, blues=85
Like anyone who has ever been bombarded with magazine headlines in a grocery store checkout line, Kouris Kalligas had a few assumptions about how to reduce his weight and improve his sleep. Instead of taking someone’s word for it, he looked to his own data to see if these assumptions were true. After building up months of data from his wireless scale, diet tracking application, activity tracking devices, and sleep app he spent time inputing that data into Excel to find out if there were any significant correlations. What he found out was surprising and eye-opening.
This video is a great example of our user-driven program at our Quantified Self Conferences. If you’re interest in tell your own self-tracking story, or want to hear real examples of how people use data in their lives we invite you to register for the QS15 Conference & Exposition.
Before we get to this week’s list we want to make sure you know about our recent conference announcement. This week we announced our QS15 Conference & Exposition. This will be our seventh conference and is sure to be an amazing event. We invite you to register today!
Now on with the good stuff!
Why Big Data Won’t Cure Us by Gina Neff. A great research paper in the aptly name journal, Big Data. Dr. Neff specifically focuses on the perils of assuming “all the data” will solve the numerous health healthcare problems and then lays out five elements to consider as data, big and small, becomes part of our healthcare experience.
More Than Meets the Eye: NASA Scientists Listen to Data by Kasha Patel. Apparently the scientists studying the sun have so much data to sift through that listening to signals is a valuable alternative to visualizing it. (via our friend Joost Plattel)
Quantified Dating, Relationships, and Sex by Kitty Ireland. A great series of three posts by Kitty that explores a variety of examples of using self-tracking in the most intimate of situations – dating, long-term relationships, and sex.
A Look Back At the Evolution of Wearable Tech. In the wake of the recent Apple Watch announcement I love being able to look back at the history of different how technology has made inroads into our lives.
The Baby Measureur by Erich Morisse. Erich is a proud father of a new child and like any new dad with data skills he started tracking some important metrics such as feeding time, feeding duration, and of course diaper changing!
A Day at Burning Man, Visualized Through Health Tracker Data by Gregory Ferenstein. Gregory takes his Basis Band to Burning Man and shows us what he learned.
My Most Intimate Self Portrait by Scott Ogle. Scott has a wonderful post here about a visualization of his almost 30,000 text messages.
If I look closely, I can see a new job, vacations and a death in the data. I can even see where I moved past it all and stopped feeling the need to communicate so much. It may just be text messages, but it all correlates to things that are really real.
And all of it is captured in this graph.
9 Days in Amsterdam – Tracking my Mobility in Bicycle Wonderland by Patrick Stotz. Patrick traveled to Amsterdam and tracked his stay using OpenPaths. I especially enjoyed how he was able to segment his means of transportation. If you’re interested in maps I suggest take a look at his great checklist for making geodata visualizations and this list of geodata tools.
What Time of Day Do People Run by Data @ Runkeeper. As a runner I can’t get enough of these visualizations and data analyses.
If you’ve seen the announcement for our 2015 QS Conference & Expo and you’ve never been to a QS event before you may be asking yourself what our conferences are all about. From our very first meetup in 2008 through our six conferences and numerous events we’ve emphasized the role of the personal story and real-world experience. We do this in a variety of ways.
First, we run our conferences as a carefully curated unconference. When you register, you’re asked to tell us about the self-tracking projects you’re working on and other QS-related ideas you have. Our conference organization team goes through every registration, diving deep into personal websites, Twitter feeds, and blog posts. We love seeing individuals using self-tracking in new and different ways to find out something interesting about themselves and we work hard to surface truly unique and inspiring stories.
How does that manifest itself in the program? The core of our conference program is made up of the nearly two dozen show&tell talks where self-trackers get up and tell their story by answering our three prime questions: What did you do? How did you do it? What did you learn? It may seem simple, but these three questions provide a stable and consistent narrative to inspire you to learn and engage with your own tracking practice in new and different ways.
We’ve spent some time combing through our vast video archive to showcase some of our favorite talks from our previous conferences. We hope you find them enjoyable and they inspire you to join us on March 13-15 in San Francisco for our 2015 QS Conference & Expo. Who knows, maybe you’ll be on stage and we’ll be learning from you!
Sara Riggare on ‘How Not To Fall’
Sara Riggare is co-organizer of Quantified Self Stockholm. She is also an engineer, a PhD student and a tireless researcher of Parkinson’s disease. In this fascinating talk, Sara describes using body sensors to help her control her gait.
Vivian Ming on Tracking Her Son’s Diabetes
Vivienne Ming is an accomplished neuroscientist and entrepreneur. Two years ago her son, Felix, was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. In this talk, presented at the 2013 Quantified Self Global Conference, Vivienne explains what they’re learning as they track and analyze his data
Chris Bartley on Understanding Chronic Fatigue
While on a research trip, Chris contracted Reiter’s Syndrome. After his recovered, something still didn’t feel right. Chris consulted his physician and started tracking his wellness along with his diet and supplement intake. What follows is an amazing story about what Chris learned when he started applying his knowledge of statistics to his own data.
Adrienne Andrew Slaughter on Tracking Carbs and Exercise
Adrienne Andrew Slaughter was testing out a new diet that included carbohydrate restriction. At the same time she was commuting to work on a bike. She started to notice feeling tired and slow during her commutes and wondered if her dietary changes had anything to do with it. Luckily, Adrienne was tracking her commutes and her diet and was able to run detailed data analysis to find out what happens when she goes carbless.
Bob Troia: Understanding My Blood Glucose
Bob Troia isn’t a diabetic and he’s not out of range, but he wanted to see if he could lower his fasting glucose levels. He started a long-term tracking experiment where he tested his blood glucose and began to explore the effects of supplementation and lifestyle factors.
Sacha Chua on Building and Using A Personal Dashboard
Sacha Chua started tracking her clothes to make sure she was varying her wardrobe on daily basis. This led he to ask, “What else can I track?” As she added time tracking, food, library books, and so much more (you can view the whole set on QuantifiedAwesome.com)
Robby Macdonnell on Tracking 8,000 Screen Hours
For the last six years Robby Macdonnell has been tracking his productivity and how he spends his time on his various computers (home and work) and even how he uses phone. Over those years he’s amassed 8,300 hours of screen time. Watch his great talk to hear what’s he learned about his work habits, productivity and how he’s come to think about time.
Sky Christopherson on Self-Tracking at the London Olympics
Sky Christopherson first shared his experience with tracking and improving his sleep in 2012. That tracking led him on a path to achieving a world record as a mastars level track cyclists. Later that year, Sky began helping other athletes us self-tracking and personal data to obtain their best performances, culminating in a surprise silver medal for the 2012 women’s olympic track cycling team, on which he served as a training advisor. In March of this year, Sky and his wife Tamara gave another QS talk at our Bay Area Meetup in which they told the wonderful story of how the 2012 Olympic team rode to their medal, a journey captured in the documentary, Personal Gold.
These are only a small sample of the amazing talks and self-tracking projects that are shared at our Quantified Self Conferences. We’d love to hear your story. Register today and let us know what you’re working on!
In response to the much anticipated reveal of the Apple Watch I did a bit of digging around to find out where we stand with wrist-worn wearable devices. I found over 60 different devices. The following list focuses on self-tracking tools, I intentionally left out those that work only as notification centers or secondary displays for your phone. I’m sure this isn’t all of them, but it’s as good a place to start as any. If you’re using one of these devices to learn something about yourself, or you’re just interested in these type of wearable tools we invite you to join us in San Francisco on March 13-15, 2015, for our QS15 Conference & Exposition.
(Thank you to all those who commented here, on Twitter, and on our Facebook group pointing us to additional devices to add!)
Sensors: Accelerometer, Heart Rate (optical), Blood Oxygen, Temperature
Sensors: Accelerometer, Pulse Oximeter, Temperature
Sensors: Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Heart Rate (optical)
Sensors: Materials state the ZenWatch houses a “bio sensors and 9-axis sensor.” I assume optical heart rate, accelerometer, and gyroscope.
Sensors: Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Heart Rate (optical)
Sensors: Accelerometer, Temperature, Pressure
Epson Pulsense Band/Watch
Sensors: Accelerometer, Heart Rate (optical)
Fatigue Science Readiband