Tag Archives: Community

What We Are Reading

We hope you enjoy these links, articles and other bits of interestingness we’ve found around the web over the last few weeks.

Taking the Guesswork out of Designing for Walkability by Xiongbing Jin & Fanis Grammenos: How should we design urban environments? In this article, the authors explore using agent-based modeling to test (a priori) what urban designs positively influence walking in a community.

The Quantified Brain of a Self-Tracking Neuroscientist by Susan Young: Russell Poldrack is a neuroscientist and imaging expert at the University of Texas. He’s currently in the middle of a massive self-tracking project which includes bi-weekly brain scans (MRI).

Blood Glucose Monitor Data Pushed to Smart Watch by Mike Szczys: This short post on the excellent Hackaday site introduces us to Don, an enterprising hardware hacker and diabetic. He’s spending some time attempting to send his blood glucose monitor data to his smartwatch and writing about it here.

Photo Lifelogging: Why I’m Skeptical by Peter Lewis: We’re moving quickly into a word with millions of wearable cameras. Peter, a QS meetup organizer, expounds on this trend and what what might happen when we’re all  able “ to censor — sorry, “curate” — [our] own photo streams.”

Home Tweet Home: A House with it’s own Voice on Twitter by Rachel Metz: The Internet of Things isn’t the future, it’s already here. Read about how Tom Coates has “wired” his home for constant data tracking and communication.

Personalized Medicine vs Guideline-based Medicine by Jeffrey Goldberger & Alfred Buxton: A short, but very interesting article that begins to explain the competing ideas behind the design and implementation of personalized vs guideline-based medicine.

Blood and Stories: How Genomics is Rewriting Race, Medicine, and Human History [pdf] by Priscilla Wald: “[If] we understand the power of the stories we can better understand the debates surrounding race and genomic medicine, which, in turn, can help us make better ethical and policy decisions and be useful in the practices of science and medicine.” (submitted by Whitney Erin Boesel)

(If you’re interested in more academic papers related to self-tracking and Quantified Self please join our Mendeley Group).

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What is the Quantified Self Now?

At Quantified Self we’ve come to appreciate the interest in QS from scholars, researchers, and scientists. The essay below, which originally appeared on the Society Pages blog Cyborgology, was written by the thoughtful QS participant and scholar, Whitney Erin Boesel (we have collaboratively made minor edits for this posting). We learned quite a bit from it and are honored that Whitney allowed us to repost it here. Essays such as these help us think critically about QS and our growing community. We hope that posting it here will spur discussion and we invite you to add your voice in the comments or email us with essays of your own.

There's A LOT more to (self-)tracking than Quantified Self

There’s A LOT more to (self-)tracking than Quantified Self

When people ask me what it is that I’m studying for my PhD research, my answer usually begins with, “Have you ever heard of the group Quantified Self?” I ask this question because, if the person says yes, it’s a lot easier for me to explain my project (which is looking at different forms of mood tracking, primarily within the context of Quantified Self). But sometimes asking this return question makes my explanation more difficult, too, because a lot of people have heard the word “quantified” cozy up to the word “self” in ways that make them feel angry, uncomfortable, or threatened. They don’t at all like what those four syllables sometimes seem to represent, and with good reason: the idea of a “quantified self” can stir images of big data, data mining, surveillance, loss of privacy, loss of agency, mindless fetishization of technology, even utter dehumanization.

But this is not the Quantified Self that I have come to know. Continue reading

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The Quantified Self Community

QSConference2011Lawn

Photo of QS Conference by Apneet Jolly

If you’ve been reading our posts for a while you’ve most likely noticed that we typically reference the Quantified Self community. If you’re not familiar with our structure and how to get involved you might be asking yourself, ”How do I get involved with the QS community?”

Continue reading

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Toolmaker Talk: Ross Larter (MoodPanda)

About three years ago, Gary Wolf wrote a detailed post on Measuring Mood — some tools are complicated enough to get you grouchy! Gallup goes through a lot of trouble to gauge the US happiness level on a daily basis. Others take a simple approach, such as Eric Kennedy’s recent talk at the Seattle QS meetup on Tracking Happiness.

Ross Larter believes an emphasis on simplicity and community (especially of people who you don’t know elsewhere) has been key to broad acceptance of his happiness-tracking MoodPanda.

Q: How do you describe MoodPanda? What is it?

Larter: MoodPanda.com is a mood tracking website and iphone app. Tracking is very simple: you rate your happiness on a 0-10 scale, and optionally add a brief twitter-like comment on what’s influencing your mood.

MoodPanda is also a large community of friendly people, sharing their moods, celebrating each others’ happiness, and supporting each other when they’re down.

People post many times a day – some tracking their mood from the moment they wake to the point their head hits the pillow at night! We organize people’s posts into their personal mood diary where they can view it many different ways: graphically, as a mood feed, broken down by metrics and even location based on a map.

Q: What’s the back story? What led to it?

Larter: MoodPanda got started in a pub in Bristol, England. A friend was asking people round the table how their day was and somebody replied with a 10/10.  My response was if today was the best day ever what happens if tomorrow is the same as today but then something else amazing happens (I think it included the “pussy cat dolls”), and we chatted for a while on this. The next day I started thinking about the question and told Jake (Co-Founder) about the idea and it went from there. We both work in software development so building the site was not an issue.

We are on MoodPanda version 3 at the moment. For the first 2 versions of the site we built it to track just your own mood. It was only once we added commenting and “hugs” to the current version that we realised that people wanted the interaction with each other. This is when our user based really started to grow.

Q: What impact has it had? What have you heard from users?

Larter: Since the iPhone app has gone live it is growing quickly with many thousands of new user every month, over 60% now come from the Apple app store. We’re seeing about 1000 active user ratings a day. Hugs are a very popular feature. Panda users give out hundreds a day.

One thing we’ve learned is that there seems to be a strong demand for a place online where people can share their feelings with others who don’t know them in “real life”, people who won’t judge them. We see this in the data: only about 35% of mood ratings are passed through to Facebook and only 2% to Twitter. And we’ve heard this directly from users who have posted that its nice to talk to people that are interested in mood and wellbeing and don’t judge them.

Feedback from users has been fantastic, and in some cases very heartwarming. We’ve even had users tell us that they’ve “lived with years of hurt until they discovered MoodPanda”.

We’ve now got so many users in the UK that our mood map is pretty representative. Our UK live mood map was quite similar to the UK Government official one from last year. We also put together a nice infographic of all of our data from 2011.

We are always trying out new ideas, and some have not been well received. We had done some complicated graphs and visualization in the past, and we’ve learned that keeping it simple is the key to moodpanda.

I also never quite realised how much time is needed after all the technical work is done. I spend a ton of time talking on the radio, public speaking, blogging, twittering, etc. about MoodPanda.

Q: What makes it different, sets it apart?

Larter: What makes MoodPanda stand apart are its simplicity and community. Other mood tracking apps are very clinical and can often be intimidating to people first trying to track their mood. We keep it simple: rate your happiness from 0-10 and, if you want, say a few words about what is influencing your mood. The design and ethos of MoodPanda has been carefully cultivated to create a friendly, open and easy first step into happiness tracking.

The large community of “moody pandas” is the other major feature, as other mood tracking apps (like our first 2 versions) are private. We of course have users who want to remain private, but 92% of our users are posting as part of of the community. We have people giving “panda hugs” and commenting with help and advice constantly in the site and genuine caring friendships are being formed constantly. We’re working hard to understand what helps this community aspect of MoodPanda and build on it.

Q: What are you doing next? How do you see MoodPanda evolving?

Larter: We recently started tracking hashtags so we could do stats on the sentiment of people’s comments that linked to the mood ratings. We’ve found that #coffee, #friends, and #food are associated with more happiness, and #sick and #work with less. We’re wondering whether we will learn whether some brands are strongly associated with mood (for example whether new #coke is good or bad) in ways that you can’t learn from normal brand sentiment tools.

We are working on the android app, and we’ve got a lot of ideas in the development pipeline involving more community features and technologies like an API.

Jake and I still have to go to work at our day jobs, but MoodPanda is a project that we both care deeply about. We’ve set a budget of $100 a month to spend on MoodPanda, so we do everything ourselves and get as creative as we can.

Q: Anything else you’d like to say?

Larter: Just a big thanks to you guys and girls at quantified self, its nice to talk to others that are as excited and interested in QS, if people continue to use moodpanda it to make themselves happier, we know we have done a good job!

Product: MoodPanda
Website: http://moodpanda.com
Platform: web, iPhone
Price: free

This is the ninth post in the “Toolmaker Talks” series. The QS blog features intrepid self-quantifiers and their stories: what did they do? how did they do it? and what have they learned?  In Toolmaker Talks we hear from QS enablers, those observing this QS activity and developing self-quantifying tools: what needs have they observed? what tools have they developed in response? and what have they learned from users’ experiences? If you are a “toolmaker” and want to participate in this series, contact Rajiv Mehta at rajivzume@gmail.com 

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Quantified Self Around the World

So there I was the other day sitting in a coffee shop and perusing the various Quantified Self Meet Up groups around the world. I was blown away by the how many people are taking time out of their busy lives to host and attend meetups in their cities. As we’ve mentioned before, Quantified Self has been growing by leaps and bounds, and it is due to our enthusiastic community of experimenters, tool makers and learners. We now have 45 groups around the world sharing their experiences and knowledge! Take a look at the map below to get a glimpse of our worldwide community.


View Quantified Self Meetups in a larger map

If you’ve never been to Meet Up take a look at the map to find one in your area (links to Meet Up groups are included). Is there no group in your city? Well go right ahead and start one! We’ve compiled a great FAQ to get you started and on your way.

Did we miss your group? Add it to the map (it’s public and editable) or just post a comment and we’ll add it to our list.

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