Steven Jonas

Steven Jonas
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Why Quantified Self Show&Talks are Amazing

I have had the esteemed pleasure for the last couple of years of helping speakers at Quantified Self conferences put together their talks. It’s a lot of work for me, but more so for the speakers. At the QS15 Conference last month in San Francisco, I took the opportunity to not only express my appreciation for our speakers’ effort, but to also speak to why the act of sharing your own personal data experience is so important and has historical precedent.

Below is a video of the speech along with the prepared remarks:

My role at the conference is to help our speakers put together their show&tell talks. For every speaker, we have a forty-five minute discussion to go over their talk.

It’s a role I relish because I get to see the process that people go through to turn their personal experience into the form of 30 slides in 7 and a half minutes.

Unless you’ve given a show&tell talk, it’s hard to know the effort and difficulty inherent in presenting one’s story. There’s the doubt and questioning of why anyone would be interested in my personal experience. How do you decide what is the right amount of context to give people? How do you sequence the information so it is intelligible?

But if I may, I want to spend a moment to talk about this practice of self-examination, and why I think it is so special.

Something that came to mind while mulling this over is something Sarah Bakewell wrote in a book about Michel de Montaigne, the 16th century french philosopher.

“Montaigne and Shakespeare have each been held up as the first truly modern writers, capturing that distinctive modern sense of being unsure where you belong, who you are, and what you are expected to do.”

If you don’t know, Montaigne was famous for a series of philosophical essays written in the 1500’s.

What was special about his essays was how honest and self-reflective he was, if meandering and digressive. But this style was novel at the time. Montaigne’s philosophical inquiries were not expansive and universal. They were small. They were constrained to just himself.

What’s funny is that this sharing of one person’s self-examination was wildly popular. For next few centuries every generation saw itself in Montaigne. Picking out different aspects of him that resonate.

By limiting the scope of conveying an experience, the power to resonate with people is much stronger and wider than it would be if you strove to be universal.

What makes Show&Tells special is that they are personal. They are small, honest, and vulnerable. They are from individuals who are humbly trying to figure out who they are and what they should be doing.

I think we are all blessed by their graciousness and generosity in sharing their experiences, so that we can see ourselves in them and figure out how to navigate our own place in a huge, immensely interesting but very confounding world.

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Meetups This Week

There are four Quantified Self meetups occurring this week. Highlights include St. Louis  giving a recap of the QS Global Conference that occurred last month in San Francisco. As well, the always excellent London meetup will be getting together.

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 wants some ideas for your next meetup, check out the myriad of meeting formats that other QS organizers are using here.

Tuesday, July 28
St. Louis, Missouri
Houston, Texas
London, England

Wednesday, July 29
Cambridge, England

Meetups Last Week

Good friend and Chicago meetup organizer Mark Moschel wrote a stellar recap of their last meeting featuring talks on measuring body fat, adaptive resistance, and how one person spends her Friday nights. Below are a couple visualizations from the talks. Well worth a read.

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Meetups This Week

There are three very interesting QS meetups occurring this week. Chicago’s event will be fitness focused, with talks on what it’s like to work out with a weight system that changes it’s resistance in real-time based on your performance and effort and learning from DXA body composition data. Shanghai will have a researcher talk from Preston Estep on using genetic data to improve health.

Ashland will have an amazing sharing of progress on current n=1 projects. Projects include exploring deep sleep with Beddit, looking at the difference between breath-based and blood-based ketone readings, and testing the effects of berberine on postprandial glucose rise. The last one is interesting is because it is placebo-controlled and double-blind, which can be difficult to pull off. I would love to hear more about his experiment design.

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!

Monday, July 20
Chicago, Illinois

Tuesday, July 21
Shanghai, China

Sunday, July 26
Ashland, Oregon

Photo from QS Montreal’s meetup last week

What a beautiful venue. If you organize a QS meetup, please post pictures of your event to the Meetup website. We love seeing them.

QSMontrealJuly
Photo credit: Maxime Chabot

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Steven Zhang: Concussions, Headaches and the Whole30 Elimination Diet

StevenZhangViz

 

At every conference, a synchronicity will occur where a few talks cover a similar, but previously unexplored topic. At QS15, we were surprised to see an increased discussion of concussions. It’s hard to know whether this is due to random chance or a glimmer of the zeitgeist, but we like to take note of these little waves of how people are finding new ways to understand themselves, or in this case, overcome strife.

Though Steven Zhang had a history of sleepiness and headaches, he never tracked them prior to his concussion. But during his recovery from post-concussion syndrome (which worsened his sleepiness and headaches), he wanted a clear record of his progress. He tracked headaches using the Tap Log android app and tracked his sleep using Sleep As Android, manually logging in and out in the app as he prepared for or woke from sleep. That he naps often and has many unsuccessful attempts to sleep meant that automatic methods for tracking sleep, like wrist-worn activity trackers, were ineffective, an important lesson considering that good sleep data is still sought after by many in the QS community.

Visualizing his data in Tableau, he gained a sense of norms for his headache frequency and nap lengths, allowing him to test the effectiveness of a dietary intervention, the fascinating result of which you can watch in the video of his talk below:

Steven presented this talk last month at the QS Global Conference in San Francisco. To see more great talks like this, you should join us at our Europe Conference on September 18 and 19th in Amsterdam. We have a limited number of early bird tickets available, so make sure that you don’t miss out by registering!

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Mark Moschel: Parasites and Gut Repair

Moschel-Gut-Viz2

While traveling in Ecuador, Mark Moschel ate some ceviche from a street cart that he later found contained a parasite called giardia.

Mark's Enemy Within

Giardia lamblia

Experiencing fatigue, light-headedness, and digestive issues, Mark used the Reporter app to track his symptoms and Ubiome to measure his gut flora to help him understand and combat the parasite.

Though a trying experience, Mark brings levity to his show&talk presented at QS15.

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Meetups This Week

Three Quantified Self meetup groups are getting together this week. Zürich will have two toolmaker talks from Manuel Heuer (dacadoo) and Lea von Bidder (Ava), as well as, hands-on demos of the Muse, Scanadu Scout, Sensoria Smart Socks and the HAPIfork.

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!

Tuesday, July 14
Lansing, Michigan
Zürich, Switzerland

Saturday, July 18
Denton, Texas

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Meetups This Week

After a brief break to focus on the QS15 conference, Meetups This Week is back. So many of our best talks at the conference were first done at a local meetup, so it’s with great pleasure that I get to highlight all of the great QS groups that are getting together around the world.

Groups like Montreal, who will feature a talk by Francois-Joseph Lapointe on how his microbiome changed in response to sexual activity. They will also discuss how the Muse can help with meditation.

Manchester will discuss how “what to do with all that QS data” and Indianapolis will have a research talk on sleep with Dr. Steve Green.

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!

Monday, July 6
Oxford, England
Manchester, England

Tuesday, July 7
Reno, Nevada
Montreal, Canada

Saturday, July 11
Indianapolis, Indiana

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Meetups This Week

We have an incredible nine meetups getting together this week all over the world. If you are in the area for one of them, you have to check it out. If you have a self-tracking story to share, let the organizer know!

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!

Monday, June 1
Oxford, England
Manchester, England

Tuesday, June 2
Reno, Nevada
Princeton, New Jersey
London, England

Wednesday, June 3
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
QSXX – San Francisco, California

Thursday, June 4
Lille, France

Saturday, June 6
Denton, Texas

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Meetups This Week

Four Quantified Self groups are having Show&Tell meetings this week. The wonderful Paul LaFontaine will be revitalizing the Denver scene with new meetups and will be giving a preview of his QS15 talk. In Indianopolis, Brad Pillow will share the results of his recent experimentation on the impact of resistant starch on blood glucose levels.

In Porto, in addition to their Show&Tells, they’re going to livestream a session called, “Making Apps Context Aware” from Google I/O. Singapore will have a laid-back get-together where the attendees will bring devices and give everyone a chance to try them out.

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!

Wednesday, May 27
Denver, Colorado

Thursday, May 28
Porto, Portugal

Friday, May 29
Singapore, Singapore

Saturday, May 30
Indianopolis, Indiana

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Meetups This Week

Four Quantified Self meetup groups are getting together this week. Nashville will be having their very first meetup and we are very excited for them. It’s a great group out there in “Music City.”

There will also be another first meeting, though it is not technically a Quantified Self Show & Tell group. At QS Labs, we’ve been interested to see the impacts of Apple entering the wearables arena, so we created the Bay Area Apple Watch Users Group to share stories of what people are learning about themselves with this device. Definitely check it out if you live by the bay.

Groningen has a fantastic slate of speakers for their event. Dr. Jan Jaap Reinders will discuss how self-tracking improved his life. Peter Joosten will speak about his diet experiments which included trying the paleo diet and Dave Asprey’s diet for a month each. Enna van Duinen embedded an RFID chip in her hand and will discuss how she uses it. And Adri Mathlener will speak on what he found out about his sleep using Sleepbot.

Not to be outdone, Berlin has a fine group of speakers as well. Chris Hardaker will give a toolmaker talk on his MyQS cloud service. Marina Schmidt will discuss how she tracked her activity to better understand her “flow” states. And Simon Eichenauer will speak on the thorny question of how long to track something.

Tuesday, May 19
Bay Area, CA (Apple Watch Users Group)

Wednesday, May 20
Nashville, Tennessee

Thursday, May 21
Cambridge, England
Groningen, Netherlands
Berlin, Germany

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