Steven Jonas

QS Portland co-organizer
Steven Jonas
Location
Organizer of Portland meetup.
Posts

What We Are Reading


Articles

Smelling Food Makes You Fat by Robert Sanders. The late Seth Roberts, an influential contributor to the QS community and prodigious self-experimenter, wrote a book called the Shangri-La Diet based on radical weight regulation ideas stemming from his observation that his body seemed to treat calories from familiar sources differently. The germ of his theory came from a trip to Paris, where Seth found that he lost his appetite, and subsequently a good deal of weight, while trying a variety of sodas that, for him, had novel flavors. This seemed odd, given the calorie content. With further testing of his hypothesis, he theorized that the brain associates flavors with calories and will store calories from familiar flavors and burn calories from unfamiliar flavor sources (you can get his book or read this paper to get a full explanation of the theory and why the body would function this way). Related, he found that consuming flavorless calories in the form of extra light olive oil caused him to lose weight. This was a completely new model of weight regulation that, frankly, most people didn’t know what to do with. But this recent study from UC Berkeley seems to validate aspects of Seth’s theory. Scientists found that they were able to help obese mice lose weight by knocking out their sense of smell. Mice who still had their sense of smell ate the same food and increased in size to twice their starting weight. It’s an incredible example of the ability of self-experiments to create novel insights through accurate and tenacious observation. -Steven

“Mysteries in Reference Lists by Martin Fenner. Since we spend quite a bit of time trying to figure out how to get things right in recording measurements, communicating what we’ve done, and helping others do the same, we’ve come to enjoy a deep respect for how difficult it is create an accurate, explicit recitation of the steps involved in any action. There’s just so much ambiguity in what we say — and also so much tacit knowledge in what we do. But some things are much simpler than others: for instance, academic citations. There are only a few possible elements: Title, Author(s), Date, Journal Name, Volume, Issue, Page(s), DOI, URL, plus some specialty reference elements available to ultra-professionals when needed. You’d think that almost nothing could go wrong. That’s why I enjoyed this post by Martin Fenner so much: Even in the simple case of citations created by scholarly professionals, mysteries are common. -Gary

Evidence Based or Person Centered? An Ontological Debate by Rani Lill Anjum. This is a descriptive account of philosophical differences between two common ways of thinking about how we get sick and what we can do to improve our health. But for me Anjum described a deep underlying antagonism between two different philosophies of care, which helps me understand terrain I’m on when struggling with scientific and medical criticism of Quantified Self practices. I’m going to see how it works to address these criticisms not only as pragmatic doubts about QS methods but also as strong – if implicit – philosophical freak-outs. -Gary

Self-Tracking Induced Sleep Anxiety by Kelly Glazer Baron, et al. This one is presented without comment, but there’s a QS Forum topic started here: “Orthosomnia”. -Gary

Show&Tell

My Scars by Ellis Bartholomeus. Ellis has taken a quantitative and thoughtful look at the form and meaning of the physical scars she has accumulated. She walks through a map of decades’ worth of scars and how she turned it into data, finding that when she added the lengths of her scars, the total is over a meter. -Azure

Max’s Vocabulary Acquisition by Nick Winter. Nick tracked the first 100 to 1000 English and Chinese words that his son learned through the first two years of his life. Comparing his son’s acquisition rate to other prominent examples, he found that his son’s progress appears to be rather linear. Nick also made Max’s Vocabulary data to look at yourself. -Steven

Fight For Your Right to Recess by Cantor Soule-Reeves. At Cantor’s school, recess is cancelled whenever it rains, an issue since he lives in Portland, Oregon. He wanted to make a case to the administrators that this policy is negatively affecting his activity levels by tracking his steps and comparing days with and without recess. -Azure

What I Learned from Weighing Myself 15 Times in a Day by Beth Skwarecki. If you are tracking your weight, a common and prudent piece of advice is to weigh yourself the same time every day. Since our weight fluctuates throughout the day, by taking a measurement at the same time, you reduce the amount of randomness in the result. However, what is not often explored is how much weight actually fluctuates during a day. In this example, the swing was over 8 pounds. -Steven (thanks to Richard Sprague)

Tracking Sleep and Resting Heart Rate by Jakob Eg Larsen. Jakob has tracked his sleep and resting heart rate (RHR) for the past four years. By tracking his RHR over a long period of time, has allowed Jakob to develop an intuition for connections between his RHR and physiological state. He has seen multiple times, for instance, that his resting heart rate will increase because of a coming flu before the onset of any other symptoms. -Azure

Data Visualizations

rplacer/place Atlas by Rolan Rytz. On April Fool’s Day this year, Reddit tried an incredible community art experiment called r/place where every user is allowed to change only a single pixel every five minutes on a digital 1000×1000 canvas. The resulting 72 hour timelapse is an entrancing drama as various subreddits fought for space to have their imagery placed on the canvas. The reason I’m mentioning it now is that I recently came across an attempt to tell the story of this project by annotating all the images that showed up at r/place: what subreddit was behind the image, was there a conflict over that space, what new imagery arose from it, and what compromises were made between two warring factions (the r/France-r/Germany compromise was excellent). The atlas contains nearly 1500 entries. -Steven

C6PnLL8U4AAJEZZ#tabtQS 1: RescueTime in Tableau by Tim Ngwena. This novel visualization shows app usage over a three year period. For Tim, I’m sure that there are all sorts of stories embedded in the increased or decreased usage of certain applications during certain time periods. In the link, Tim walks through the workflow for creating this chart. -Steven

Pasted image at 2017_07_12 07_52 AM (1)Activity Levels Around the World. This visualization is from a paper exploring “activity inequality” and comes 717,527 individuals’ smartphone data with over 68 million days of activity. -Steven (thanks to Richard Sprague)

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QS17 Program Updates

QS17 is here!

We can’t wait to see old friends and meet new people who have never been to a QS conference before. If you are reading this because you are attending QS17, you are in for something special. Our program is filled with engaging talks, fascinating discussions, and informative workshops. Here is a PDF of the printed program.

Here is a map of the venue to help you find your breakout discussion and workshop rooms:
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Updates to the QS17 program

Our sessions come from our attendees and we try to leave the program open for as long as we can before we send it to the printer. Still, some things come in after the deadline and we can’t resist finding a spot for them. Below are new sessions that will be happening in addition to the printed program:

Saturday

Lunch (13:00-14:00)
Office Hours
GERO
Stanislav Leontenko, Nikolai Kovtunenko
Gero has developed a first digital biomarker of aging which can be measured by your physical activity gathered from your smartphone or wearable device. By using this tool, you can evaluate your personalized effect of healthy or unhealthy lifestyle. 
getgero.com

BLOODTESTERS
Azure Grant
Get your blood cholesterol tested! Lets’ talk about the value of this metric and what could be learned by having the ability to get a lipid profile in your home.

Session 3 (14:00-15:00)
Breakout Session
QS IN THE JUDICIAL CONTEXT (Harvard)
Liza Cornet
In what way could QS help with the understanding, prevention and intervention of offending behavior.

Sunday

Session 5 (10:30-11:30)
Show&Tell
DIABETES VIZ
Peter Kok
In this talk, I will show a custom web app that I’ve created that automatically collects data from continuous glucose monitor and with some novel visualizations, helps me manage my diabetes.

Lunch (13:00-14:00)
Office Hours
ACTITHINGS
Elke Beck
I’m a human-computer interaction researcher and I’m currently exploring how sensor-based self-tracking technologies can help older adults (65+ years) to reflect on their physical activity/ sedentary habits in daily life. I’ve developed several low-tech,  interactive prototypes which people can use for tracking and reflecting their physical activity behaviour.

BLOOD VALUE RESPONSES TO FOOD, FASTING, AND EXERCISE
Ben Best
I have been monitoring the way my blood glucose, ketone, and triglyceride respond to various foods by making hourly measurements 6 to 10 hours after eating the food. I practice a ketogenic diet, and often fast. Every few months I get very detailed laboratory blood tests.

BLOODTESTERS
Azure Grant
Get your blood cholesterol tested! Lets’ talk about the value of this metric and what could be learned by having the ability to get a lipid profile in your home.

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Meetups This Week in Manchester, Austin, and Seattle

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Tuesday, May 2
Manchester, England

Thursday, May 4
Austin, Texas

Friday, May 5
Seattle, Washington

QS17 is coming soon

Our next conference is June 17-18 in lovely Amsterdam. It’s the perfect event for seeing the latest self-experiments, debating the most interesting topics in personal data, and meeting the most fascinating people in the Quantified Self community. There are a limited number of tickets left. We can’t wait to see you there.

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Quantified Self Meetup in Prague This Week

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The Quantified Self group in Prague will be having a meetup this week. The group’s organizer Jan Pavuk, will distill what he learned at the recent BNA Festival of Neuroscience into practical methods and tools that can be used for people’s QS practice.

Thursday, April 27
Prague, Czech Republic

QS17

To experience more of this style of knowledge sharing, you should come to our upcoming conference in Amsterdam on June 17 & 18. It’s the perfect event for seeing the latest self-experiments, debating the most interesting topics in personal data, and meeting the most fascinating people in the Quantified Self community. There are a limited number of tickets left. We can’t wait to see you there.

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Steven Jonas: Spaced Listening

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It’s hard for me to like an album the first time I listen to it. I can almost feel some part of my brain reject the music, even from bands I like, because it’s not familiar. However, after a few listens, the album will grow on me and I’ll find myself humming melodies that I previously couldn’t sit through. That is, unless I turned off the album the first time around and never gave it a second listen.

I suspected that this behavior was having a negative impact on my ability to appreciate new music when I noticed that almost none of the music that I listen to has come out after 2006.

In this talk, given at a recent QS Bay Area meetup, I discuss the system I set up that scheduled when I should listen to an album to help me over the hump to appreciating an album on it’s own terms instead of rejecting it because it wasn’t familiar.

Spaced_Listening_by_Steven_Jonas_on_Vimeo

Click to watch Steven’s Show&Tell talk.

Tools used:
- Anki
- Google Forms

QS17 is coming soon

Our next conference is June 17-18 in lovely Amsterdam. It’s the perfect event for seeing the latest self-experiments, debating the most interesting topics in personal data, and meeting the most fascinating people in the Quantified Self community. There are a limited number of tickets left. We can’t wait to see you there.

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Meetup Today in Portland

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There is a Quantified Self meetup happening in Portland tonight. Mark Leavitt will present an update to his Health E-Seat project (his office chair is a recliner/recumbent bike hybrid). It will feature some in-progress projects on tracking intentions and recording mood and music. The night will end with a talk about my attempt to apply the findings of a study on improving learning with smell to my spaced repetition practice.

Tuesday, April 11
Portland, Oregon

To see when the next meetup in your area is, check the full list of the over 100 QS meetup groups in the right sidebar. Don’t see one near you? Why not start your own! If you are a QS Organizer and want some ideas for your next meetup, check out the myriad of meetup formats that other QS organizers are using here.

QS17

You can see many great talks at our next conference on June 17-18 in lovely Amsterdam. It’s the perfect event to see the latest self-experiments, discuss the most interesting topics in personal data, and meet the most fascinating people in the Quantified Self community. There are a limited number of tickets left. We can’t wait to see you there.

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Meetups This Week in Dublin and Austin

IMG_4626Dublin recently put on a fantastic meeting with a couple of great talks about gut health (which you can watch). They are back at it again, with three speakers on bio-markers related to nutrition. Austin’s theme is nutrition as well, with the main talk on a person’s data collected while losing 95 pounds on a ketogenic diet.

Tuesday, April 4
Dublin, Ireland

Thursday, April 6
Austin, Texas

To see when the next meetup in your area is, check the full list of the over 100 QS meetup groups in the right sidebar. Don’t see one near you? Why not start your own! If you are a QS Organizer and want some ideas for your next meetup, check out the myriad of meetup formats that other QS organizers are using here.

QS17

You can see many great talks at our next conference on June 17-18 in lovely Amsterdam. It’s the perfect event to see the latest self-experiments, discuss the most interesting topics in personal data, and meet the most fascinating people in the Quantified Self community. There are a limited number of tickets left. We can’t wait to see you there.

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Getting to Know the Gut: A QS Dublin Report

Earlier this month, the Quantified Self Dublin group got together for an engaging evening of talks on gut health by members of the local medical community.

CDSA Explained

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Francesco Polito, a nutritional therapist, talked about the markers that are found in a Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis (CDSA). This is a test that he has his clients get to understand the current state of their gut. Francisco walked through the test results, explaining what each marker represented and what it could mean if it is out of range. It’s an incredibly fascinating talk and I will be writing more about it in-depth next week. In the meantime, you can watch a video of the talk and review his slides, which contain an actual CDSA report from one of his clients.

Video of Francesco’s talk
Francesco’s slides

A Gut Hormone Primer

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Natasha Kapoor, a researcher at University College Dublin, gave a primer on hormones in the gut. She explained the relationship that ghrelin has with appetite.  Higher ghrelin levels correspond with increased hunger. This is concerning, since lack of sleep can cause ghrelin to rise, meaning that carrying a sleep debt could induce you to eat more than you otherwise would. It may follow, then, to try and manipulate ghrelin levels to help control appetite. However, clinical attempts to lower ghrelin levels are not advised since it is a complex hormone involved in more than just hunger, such as cardiovascular function, sleep and memory.

Still, there are other hormones that play a role in appetite. Natasha described three hormones that have the opposite effect as ghrelin, making you feel full while eating a meal: cholecystokinin, peptide YY and glucagon-like peptide-1. She is currently recruiting subjects for a study on whether these hormones could be manipulated to control appetite through a “gut hormone infusion” method. As Natasha explains in the video below, there are more mundane ways of taking advantage of these hormones to reach satiety quicker, such as eating your food in a certain order (hint: start with the protein portion).

Video of Natasha’s Talk
Natasha’s slides.

If you live in the Dublin area, you can join their meetup group and be notified about upcoming events (like the next Tuesday!). You can also keep up with QS Dublin on twitter.

If you are interested in exploring more about the microbiome, we’ve had a number of interesting Show&Tell talks on gut health:

QS17

You can meet Justin and other members of QS Dublin at our next conference on June 17-18 in lovely Amsterdam. It’s the perfect event to see the latest self-experiments, discuss the most interesting topics in personal data, and meet the most fascinating people in the Quantified Self community. There are a limited number of tickets left. We can’t wait to see you there.

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A Night of Cycling: A QS Belfast Report

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Recently, the Quantified Self community in Belfast came together to learn from an Olympic cyclist on how he used personal data to inform his training.

I spoke to Jonathan Bloomfield, QS Belfast’s organizer about how the evening went. Jonny has been running the group since 2015 and was happy to be hosted by Novosco, a tech firm. The speaker that evening was David McCann, a former database programmer turned Olympic cyclist. McCann spoke about how personal data informed his training and how he uses it as a coach at the SCRAM center in Lisburn. He brought in the bike trainer and sensors that he uses to monitor his performance.

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After McCann’s presentation, a person at the meetup jumped on the bike (since he was wearing a cycling jersey, I think he had a couple days notice) and everyone was given a live demonstration of a ramp test with various performance and biometrics projected on a monitor, such as lactate and heart rate levels.

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Jonny said that the live demonstration was a hit with the people there. If you are interested in what people have been learning from their cycling data, there have been many fascinating QS Talks on the subject:
Sky Christopherson – Quantified Self and the London Olympics
Dave Miller – Cycling Power Meter Data
Steve Dean – Project Faster: Tracking to Improve Cycling Performance
Arlene Ducao – This is Your Brain on Bike
Dave Miller – VO2Max

If you live in the Belfast area, you can find out about the next QS Belfast event by joining their meetup group. As an organizer, Jonny works to make his meetups a place for people to relax, be comfortable and have a good time. The rest of us can follow the group on Twitter.

Let’s get together at QS17!

You can meet Jonny and other members of QS Belfast at our next conference on June 17-18 in lovely Amsterdam. It’s the perfect event to see the latest self-experiments, discuss the most interesting topics in personal data, and meet the most fascinating people in the Quantified Self community. There are a limited number of tickets left. We can’t wait to see you there.

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Bay Area Meetup Recap

Last week the QS Bay Area group got together for an evening of Show&Tell talks at the Institute For The Future in Palo Alto. There were talks on gut health, time management, statistics and a self-experimentation lab.

The first talk was from Karl Heilbron about a simple experiment where he supplemented his diet with probiotics and had uBiome samples taken before and after. He was surprised to learn that the probiotics had little to no effect. He decided that, for now, it didn’t make sense to keep paying for them.

What I love about this project is how it reflects how people are using their data in their lives. Karl didn’t prove that probiotics don’t have an impact. He gathered some data, and it didn’t show enough evidence to justify continued taking of the supplement.

Slide from Karl Heilbron's talk

Slide from Karl Heilbron’s talk

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Click to watch the video of Karl’s talk

Eric Mann spoke about his attempt to manage his work time better. He used a series of scripts to get his calendar data into Excel and created a dashboard that gave him insight into where he’s spending his time, with whom, and whether it’s helping with his work goals.

Slide from Eric Mann's talk

Slide from Eric Mann’s talk

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Click to watch Eric Mann’s talk

 

Eric J. Daza is a biostatistician how helps researchers design their studies and analyze their data, so it was interesting to hear his perspective on principles for analyzing the smaller data sets that make up QS data.

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Slide from Eric J. Daza’s talk

Click to watch the video of Eric J. Daza's talk

Click to watch Eric J. Daza’s talk

 

The last talk came from Mike Snyder, one of the most interesting and innovative scientists currently using self-collected data to make new discoveries. A recently published paper out of Mike’s lab: Tracking Physiomes and Activity Using Wearable Biosensors Reveals Useful Health-Related Information, by Xiao Li, Jessilyn Dunn, and Denis Salins, uses two years of Mike’s extremely detailed self-tracking data (backed up with group research) to show how heart rate data can predict sickness before symptoms appear.

Slide from Mike Snyder's talk

Slide from Mike Snyder’s talk

Click to watch Mike Snyder's talk

Click to watch Mike Snyder’s talk

If you live in the Bay Area and want to know when the next QS event is happening, join the group on Meetup!

Join us at QS17

Our next conference is June 17-18 in Amsterdam. It’s the perfect event to see the latest self-experiments, discuss the most interesting topics in personal data, and meet the most fascinating people in the Quantified Self community. There are a limited number of tickets. We can’t wait to see you there.

 

 

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