Tag Archives: ethics

Natty Hoffman: The Enlightened Consumer

Natty Hoffman was interested in learning more about how she spent her money. Not satisfied with just categorizing expenses, she dove deeper into two years of transaction data to understand where here money was going and how well her spending habits reflected her ideals. In this talk, presented at the Boston QS Meetup group, Natty explains how she examined her spending data to see if she was supporting ethical, healthy, and local businesses.

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What We Are Reading

We’ve compiled another list of interesting personal data and Quantified Self articles, self-tracking stories, and data visualizations. Enjoy!

Articles

Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks by Adam Kramer, Jamie Guillory, and Jeffrey Hancock. Facebook engaged in a large study to see if emotional states could be transferred/changed via the emotional content of the News Feed. A lot of hubbub recently about this research article related to what it means to knowingly consent to research.

Who Owns Your Personal Data: The Incorporated Woman. Jennifer Morone has added herself to a long list of individuals making a statement against the commercialization of personal data. What started as a design assignment has morphed into a statement against others profiting and controlling personal data. (Immediately remind me of this Kickstarter project.)

Quantified Self and the Ethics of Personal Data by Ian Forrester. Ian does a great job here of exploring current conversations about the variety of ethical questions that come with creating, using, and owning personal data.

Visualizing Algorithms by Mike Bostock. Mike is the creator and steward of the d3.js data visualization library. In this fascinating post, he recounts one of his recent talks about how visualization can be used to understand how algorithms work.

“[...] algorithms are also a reminder that visualization is more than a tool for finding patterns in data. Visualization leverages the human visual system to augment human intellect: we can use it to better understand these important abstract processes, and perhaps other things, too.”

Biometric Shirt for Astronauts Gets Antarctic Tryout by Eliza Strickland. Eliza describes a “try-out” for using self-tracking technology to better understand vital signs and activity during space travel.

Show&Tell

My Solution for Quantified Self: Prompted Data Aggregation by Jonathan Cutrell. Jonathan decided to build his own simple system for self-directed data collection prompts. “While they may be simple data points, and while the questions will repeat, the concept is simple: my computer asks me a question, and tracks my answer for me.”

Quantified Splunk: Tracking My Vital Signs by David Greenwood. David describes how he uses Splunk, a data monitoring and analysis tool, to help him track and make sense of new personal health data he’s collecting. It will be interesting to see what he learns as he starts adding and exploring more of his self-tracking data.

How I Wrote 400K Words in a Year by Jaime Todd Rubin. In March of 2013, Jaime decided he was going to try and write every day. In this post he describes some of the lessons he learned through tracking his writing practice. I was particularly drawn to his methods for tracking all his writing through Google Docs.

Do you have a self-tracking story you want to share? Submit it now!

Visualizations

Withings-via-IFTTTCharting Withings Data Using IFTTT, Google Spreadsheets, and d3.js by Dan Harrington. Dan didn’t like the way Withings presented weight data in it’s visualization. So, he put together a tutorial to show how you can grab your Withings data via IFTTT, import it into a Google Spreadsheet, then visualize it using d3.js, an open-source data visualization library.

 

 

MapRunKeeper1.5 Million Walks, Runs, and Bike Rides by Mapbox and RunKeeper. The Mapbox team worked with Runkeeper to map publicly shared routes. Really interesting to zoom around the world map to see where people who use RunKeeper are exercising.

 

 

Do you have a QS data visualization you want to share? Submit it now!

From the Forum

HealthKit
Lifelogging via Calendar Application
Help Analyzing Text Files?
Breakout: Productivity Tracking

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QSEU14 Breakout Session: QS & Philosophy

A core piece of our conferences are the numerous breakout sessions that cover a wide variety of topics from social sciences to hands-on workshops on privacy and data security. These sessions are facilitated by conference attendees and they put in a lot of work to engage their groups in meaningful discussion. This year, starting with our European Conference, we are going to extend the discussion outside of the conference. Below you can read a description of the breakout by the individual(s) who led the discussion. We invite you to follow up and continue the conversation in our forum, where we’ve carved out a special place for each separate discussion.

Today’s post comes to us from Joerg Blumtritt, who led the QS & Philosophy breakout session at the 2014 Quantified Self Europe Conference. You’re invited to read his take on the session and then join the discussion on the QS Forum.

QSPhilosophyThe session “QS and Philosophy” was originally intended as something like “Ideologies of QS”: I want to advocate for an open data culture without fear; however I felt the urge to discuss some topics that I felt left open in conversations I had experienced with trackers and gadgets-people, too often during the last months; explicitly my feeling that an idea of self-betterment could entail the fiction, that everyone really can take responsibility for their lives.

The #QSEU14 conference has brought these topics, that I had felt concerned with, even to the plenary programme, e.g. having Josh Berson’s emotional statement against this “liberal fallacy” as you might call it. So I learned that many of us were bothered by these questions, and an open conversation would take place all accross the conference. This gave room in my session to look into the future of QS on a broader perspective.

If QS would become a mass phenomenon (which none of us would have doubts about), will we feel a rise in moral expectations and control? Will our communities be looking after us, taking care, encouraging us, as well as discipline us? A participant in the session told the example of nanny-tracking on facebook, certainly a nasty form of abusing tracking for surveillance. Thus there is need to make a clear stand what is acceptable, and what we should expell from our community; and we have to consider how hierarchy and power (or the lack of it) will influence the effect of our practices. And we should consider in how far self-tracking flips into “other-tracking”. We discussed to some extension, if there is an option to just track yourself without touching others, at all; at least if you start sharing data within a community and built connections to others via your shared data.

The culture of tracking, sharing data, caring for others’ data, too, shows aspects of village life; we care for each other, but we also “get watched” that way. On the one hand, this might sound frightening. On the other hand, do we have the chance to change from “the state” or “the government” enforcing social rules in an authoritarian way, to get to an emergent system? Could we evolve the “QS philosophy” into an operating system that helps people on large scales to live together in a sustainable way?

One important aspect is algorithm ethics – implicit value judgements built into our technologies, often in the form of parameters that someone just set to a certain value without knowing or even considering the consequences. Value judgements are neither per se bad nor avoidable. However, it is our responsibility to demand access to the “black boxes”, to have transparency with technology that effects on our lives, and as makers of such technology to grant others access and have an open conversation with them.

Pre start, I had felt uncomfortable, even demanding (maybe pretentious) with my ethics debate. I was blown away about the turn that the conference as a whole made, in making the ethics debate a major topic from the very first talk to the farewell.

You can view slides from this breakout session here:

Interested in discussing the Philosophy of QS? Join the discussion on the forum!

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