Tag Archives: meetup recap
The QSXX Boston Chapter held our fifth meetup on March 3rd, 2014. We had a guest Amy Merrill from The Hormone Project talk about the direction of this new project. As a group, we discussed how something like the Hormone Project might be beneficial to us. We all agreed that it would be awesome if we could track our hormones at home, instantly, without going through a doctor (also, unicorns.) Relevant hormone research (if it exists at all) can be difficult to understand, and isn’t always driven by those it might have the biggest impact on. Concrete examples about the types of hormones and ways we can track these hormones would be very helpful.
We also talked about how sharing stories is a key aspect of QS, and how we might be able to facilitate further discussion around both hormones and QS in general. We discussed the potential benefits of not only being able to track our own data related to hormones, but also to see data from other people. While there are clear merits in sharing information, we also discussed the potential privacy implications therein. Some possibilities for collaboration between QSXX and The Hormone Project might include group tracking projects and/or “hormone dinner parties.” It was exciting to have The Hormone Project here for QSXX and we hope to have them attend a meetup again in the near future.
A lot of topics come up during each QSXX meetup. Here are a few concrete items that our group found interesting:
This article in Model View Culture on QS and feminism. We discussed how QSXX does and doesn’t address what the author is calling for here.
Glow. This is one example of a period tracking app. We discussed how most period tracking apps today are primarily fertility based, and it would be nice for new apps and tools to think more critically about what their users might want.
Bringing Back My Real Self With Hormones. An interesting article from the New York Times on the potential impacts of hormones on the self.
Reporter App. We talked about this (relatively) new app for “reporting” on your day, and the advantages and disadvantages of services that ping you to enter data and services that you use to manually enter data when you remember to.
AliveCor iPhone ECG. We discussed this cell phone ECG case, which is now available for purchase on Amazon.
Lift’s The Quantified Diet. We examined how this experiment is an interesting first step toward “Quantified Us” and how we might apply something similar for a group tracking experiment of our own.
Pact. This came up as we were discussing motivations for tracking and maintaining habits. In this case, you can earn money when you reach your goals
The next QSXX Boston meetup will be held early this Summer. Stay tuned!
This guest post comes to us from Konstantin Augemberg who covers many interesting Quantified Self topics and his personal tracking experience on the wonderful MeasuredMe blog.
On Monday, September 30, Quantified NYC group has held its 23th meetup. The event was graciously hosted by Projective Space which offers collaborative community space to over 60 startups. With over a hundred people in attendance, interesting demos and inspiring presentations (quantifying Starcraft gaming skills, predicting choice of clothes based on weather forecast, and other self-quantified awesomeness!), it turned out to be a great evening. Here is my brief report on what I saw and loved:
We started with our Demos session during which QS entrepreneurs showcased their products and services:
- David Joerg (@dsjoerg) presented his GGTracker, web service that uses advanced analytics to help Starcraft players to track their stats and quantify and improve gaming skills
- Paula Murgia presented Personal Beasties app that helps people to cope with anxiety, fatigue and stress by using simple breathing exercises
- Stefan Heeke (@Stefan_Heeke) showcased My Online Habits, a webapp that uses Gmail and Google data to help analyze your productivity and communications habits
- Mike McDearmon (@Mike_McDearmon) demoed an awesome online dashboard that he built to visualize his outdoors activities.
The Show & Tell session was opened by Mette Dyhrberg (@mettedyhrberg) and her “The Pomodoro Recovery” presentation. Following the bouncing castle accident, Mette has been diagnosed with concussion and was recommended to rest and avoid using electronic devices in order to recover. She started tracking her symptoms, diet, and resting and working habits using Pomodoro method and Mymee app. The lack of progress has prompted her to look at her tracking data, after which she realized that she may have been misdiagnosed. The visit to another doctor has revealed that she sustained a neck injury, which luckily, could be fixed right on the spot. The treatment procedure helped her to feel better almost immediately. You can watch Mette’s presentation here.
In “Quantifying What to Wear”, Andrew Paulus (@andrewcpaulus) shared how he used self-tracking to measure impact of weather on his choice of clothes. It started when Andrew noticed that one of his morning habits included checking weather on his phone in order to decide what to wear on that day. That led to an idea to measure efficiency of this process, by tracking his choice of clothes and then assessing at the end of the day, if the choice was correct. His first attempt at quantifying weather and wardrobe was unsuccessful, due to some flaws in methodology and measurement (e.g., the weather data was collected at different times of the day; the clothes data was not very well structured). Andrew then has revised the methodology, by subscribing to more reliable and comprehensive weather data from Farmer’s Almanac, and logging wardrobe data in a more consistent manner. His girlfriend kindly agreed to co-participate in this experiment. After six months of tracking, Andrew looked at their data. He found that the overall, he tended to be slightly more accurate in choosing what to wear, compared to his girlfriend: his accuracy rate was 78%, vs. her rate of 74%. Another interesting finding was that his choices were more weather appropriate. The correlation between the clothes and weather was nearly 0.7 for him, and nearly 0 .1 for his girlfriend, which suggests that her choices are often influenced by many other factors, not just weather. You can see the full presentation here.
Amy Merrill (@amyjmerrill) shared her experiences with “Sleep Tracking with Jawbone Up”. Since April 2013, she has been tracking her sleep (deep sleep phase, in particular) using Jawbone Up, as well as social and work related activities using Google Calendar. By analyzing the patterns in her data, she was able to see how certain activities affect her deep sleep. In particular, she learned that more physical activity and sleep deprivation led to more deep sleep, where as restful days tend to result in more light sleep. Certain social activities like attending wedding and taking trips on tour bus have also had a considerable impact on quality of her sleep. For the next phase, she plans to include some aspects of the diet, including consumption of alcohol, caffeine and over-the-counter drugs. You can watch Amy’s presentation here.
The session was concluded by Andrew Tarvin’s (@HumorThatWorks) funny and inspiring presentation “The Perfect Day”, in which he discussed the tracking system that he used to build some new habits. Andre has been rating each day based on the number of goals that he achieved (e.g., waking up without snoozing the alarm, do something active for 20+ minutes, eat at least 4 fruites a day, etc.) The days with at least 3 goals met were defined as “quality days”, and the days with all 5 goals accomplished were rated as “perfect”. Andre learned that the strive for perfection was the most demotivating factor: missing one goal earlier in the day often resulted in giving up on all other habits as well. Waking up without snoozing was the most influential habit in that regard. He also learned that the “streaks” of quality and perfect days was the most motivational factor; once he had several consecutive successful days in a row, it was much easier to continue meeting the goals. Andre has been using this system for three years, and plans to continue using it to acquire new habits. You can read more about his system on his site. You can watch video of the presentation here.
As always, before and after the sessions, I had a chance to mingle and meet a lot of interesting people. Special shout out to Stefan Heeke, Mike McDearmon, Sylvia Heisel, Michael Moore and Dave Comeau.
Two weeks ago I threw a Quantified Self Meetup in beautiful downtown Louisville, and I’m writing this post, two weeks later because I’ve finally come down from the experience. We had a total of four speakers and 13 people show up to the recently renovated iHub co-working space. And I even convinced my mom to postpone her trip back home so that she could speak at it, too. Score. By all accounts it was a great night. If you missed it, check out the abridged recap below (and show up next time!).
Brushing Ain’t Easy
Our first presenter was my friend and long time Quantified Self Louisville aficionado, Alex Frommeyer. Alex has a local start-up that is building a blue tooth toothbrush called the BEAM toothbrush. The idea is to stick sensors into a toothbrush along with Bluetooth technology so that you can keep track of your or your loved ones (kids) brush strokes in a mobile application. Alex talked about the Quantified Self movement in general, the BEAM brush in particular, passed around samples and also spoke about the niche for oral care within QS. The talk was really well received, as I had to cut off the question period, and fend off my mom, who kept bugging me to see if she could get the hook up on a BEAM brush, so we could get to the next speaker.
Let Me Ride… My Personal Dashboard
I have to hand it to Nick Such, because he was really the force behind this meetup. Nick lives in Lexington but really wants a group like this to exist in Kentucky and I can’t thank him enough for helping put this event together. Not only is he a super cool guy, his presentation was super cool too… as he spoke of how he started measuring things by tracking the gas mileage he would get on an old beater he drove in high school and college. That love for efficiency later translated to him joining the Solar Car Team at the University of Kentucky, and ultimately to him tracking and creating a personal dashboard that he presented to the group. He uses the dashboard to track sleep, activity and food consumption, and I’m personally hoping that Nick comes back to speak again after having a chance to dig through his data with questions.
You’re a Data Customer
Next up was my old Humana Innovation Center comrade, Shane Regala, who I now owe a big favor. Shane won the unofficial “who’s wearing the most personal tracking devices at the same time” contest, coming in at four. He also handed out a copy of Ubisoft’s Yourshape Fitness Evolved 2012 Xbox Kinect game to a lucky winner that guessed the number of steps he took on a random Saturday as a volunteer soccer coach (the right answer was 18,000). Shane delivered a visionary talk that related his personal experience tracking his sleep with two small children in the house to the bigger picture of how tracking may be used by payers, to help us all lead healthier lives in the not so distant future. It was also great to get a peak at some of the projects Humana’s Innovation Center is working on, as well as soak in some of Shane’s abundant energy.
Last Night a Fitbit Saved My Life
Last but certainly not least, was my very own mother. My mom’s story is that she first felt symptoms related to Multiple Sclerosis in 1985, but wasn’t diagnosed until 1987. She is still able to walk and live a somewhat normal life, fortunately, and has a never give up attitude. But as you can imagine, it’s hard for her to stay motivated sometimes. As the story goes, my wife and I had purchased Fitbits for ourselves earlier this year and then bought one for my mom for Mother’s Day. We got her all set up before she flew back home to Minnesota and two weeks later, I received this E-mail from her in my Inbox:
I just had to tell you guys, I am so-ooo psyched(sp), I got my weekly results for last week, (5-28 to 6-3), I walked 20,724 steps, distance, 7.69 miles, and burned 10,303 calories. WOW!!!!! I had a doctor’s appointment yesterday, and I’ve lost 3 pounds since last time I was there. Not much, but dang, it’s a start. I told him my kids gave me the Fitbit for Mothers Day, and he thought that was great. I told him how motivated I am, because I can see the results, as I do them!! I told him I was thinking about getting a three-wheeled bike too, for exercise, and he really thought that was a good idea!!! I woke up at 5:30 this morning, and I laid there trying to decide, get up, or go back to sleep? I got up, got dressed and went for an early morning walk. I kept walking until I did a mile. My legs hurt so bad when I got home, I could hardly pick them up, but I did it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I know for all you walkers, that doesn’t sound like much, but dang, dang, dang, I am so pumped up, I think I’ll go pull some weeds!!!! Love you all!!!
I’m man enough to admit that I cried when I read this the first time. Feedback loops are powerful.
But as we were looking through my mom’s weekly Fitbit summary E-mails, to put some slides together, we noticed something wasn’t quite adding up. She had been accepted to try out a new drug called Ampyra in June, and by her account it made her right leg, which had been giving her a lot of problems, feel great. However, her Fitbit summaries were curtailing month after month showing less and less activity. When she went to take the Ampyra follow up test, after using it for a month, the drug was deemed to not be helping her enough to warrant continued coverage. She had never looked at her Fitbit E-mails successively to notice that her activity had declined so much, so she was genuinely surprised to see the downward trend.
I personally thought it was super interesting that the Fitbit data didn’t necessarily support my mother’s conviction that this specific drug is helping her, and yet she still loves her Fitbit AND feels that she needs Ampyra because it helps her. A great paradox of the modern health care system. Flash forward two weeks and she has begun her Ampyra retest period, on her own dime, so that she may come to her own conclusions and either appeal a denied claim or move on to something else that correlates with an increase in both activity AND feeling good, but on her own terms. I personally think that is what the future of health care can and should look like in America.
Sidenote: My mother informed me that she is not a “public speaker” many times before the event… I’m extremely proud that she stepped out of her comfort zone to tell her story to a room full of strangers. Her strength and sense of adventure have inspired me more than she will know.
All in all it was a great experience, and I’m looking forward to the next one in the early 2013. Hope to see you there!
Do you have a recap from a Quantified Self Meetup you attended recently? If so, send links over to Ernesto and we’ll post them here!