Tag Archives: meetups

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?”

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Beijing Quantified Self?

I recently had lunch with Richard Sprague, an engineer at Microsoft Beijing. He raised the possibility of starting a Quantified Self Meetup group in Beijing. The meetings could be held in one of Microsoft’s two brand new buildings, which are in the exact center of Zhongguancun. If you might attend, please let me know (e.g., by commenting on this post).

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First QS Masters Thesis: How Do the Meetup Groups Work and How Can QS Improve?

I’d like to present to everyone in the QS community the results from my research. I’ve spent almost a whole year now, conducting research for a masters degree in applied anthropology at San Jose State University. For the last six months or so, my research has focused on the QS meetup groups. In my MA program, we are encouraged to conduct a research project where we apply ethnographic methods to produce research that is useful in some way.

For my research, I teamed up with QS and designed a project with the help of Gary Wolf on the meetup groups. New groups are springing up all over the place, and Gary was interested in finding out more about what goes on in some of the groups, and some of the barriers and challenges for organizing. I conducted an ethnographic assessment to basically survey the “landscape” of the meetups. You can read more about it here in the report! (PDF)


Everyone in the QS community I connected with was so helpful and encouraging during the research process. I didn’t get a chance to put acknowledgements in the report, so I’d like to make a few right here.

First I’d like to thank Gary Wolf for coming up with the idea for a research project. I’d also like to thank everyone that I interviewed or talked to during the research process, especially John Amschler and Chloe Fan (for submitting to both rounds of interviews) and Scott Orn and Bo Adler (for being especially supportive). A very special thanks goes out to Alexandra Carmichael. Without her help and assistance with so many things, I don’t think this research would have been possible.

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Our Three Prime Questions

We started Quantified Self as a casual meeting for users and makers of self-tracking tools. Now that our project has evolved into an active, international community, I’d like to offer a concise description of what it’s about. This will help if you are organizing a Quantified Self show&tell, giving a talk, or launching an independent project inspired by what we do.

THREE PRIME QUESTIONS

At the Quantified Self, we talk about our first hand experiences using self-tracking methods and tools. This approach is embodied in Three Prime Questions:

1. What did you do?
2. How did you do it?
3. What did you learn?

I’ve organized and hosted many QS Show&Tell meetings here in the Bay Area, so I can say from experience that the Prime Questions make the job easy. Once you commit to hearing personal stories of self-tracking, you no longer need to worry much about recruiting speakers. Let anybody share a self-tracking project, within the constraints of time and common sense. Slickness or charisma are unimportant. Every talk about actual practice has value because it lets us learn and think about one person’s approach. Since the goal is collaborative learning, rather than killing time through entertainment, a speaker who is struggling due to nervousness, confusion, or lack of preparation can be helped along by questions from the group.

We like scientific theories, demos of tools and apps, and philosophical speculation. But in the context of a Quantified Self Show&Tell they distract unless they are grounded in actual attempts at self-tracking and self-experiment. When theory or demonstrations are embedded in an account of personal experience, however, they work great. Tell us what you’ve done, how you did it, and what it means to you, before making the leap to speculative assertions or entrepreneurial self-praise. Your listeners will learn more, and everybody will have a better time.

We understand that some of you want to use the QS community mainly for collaborative work on your tools or to meet potential users. That’s why a typical QS Show&Tell meetup begins with an informal workshop and social hour, where open tables near electrical outlets let you demo anything you want. Where the demand for startup conversation is very high, we may also experiment with a separate MeetUp track for this. But we try to reserve our ongoing QS Show&Tell for reports of actual self-tracking projects and results.

In short, when you organize or present at a QS Show&Tell: Ask the Three Prime Questions!

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Open Invitation to Share Your Apps, Stories, Thoughts

The power of the Quantified Self community is in the individual stories of self-tracking and self-experimentation that QS’ers around the world are sharing with each other. With this post, I want to invite you, if you haven’t already, to share your story – what did you do? How did you do it? What did you learn?

Here are the ways that you can tell the QS world about your insights, ideas, questions, and apps:

1. The Complete QS Guide to Self-Tracking – this is a tagged directory of 478 tools and apps relevant to QS. Feel free to comment on any tool to share your story with it, or even submit your own app to the guide.

2. Quantified Self Forums – this is a place to chat with 260 other QS’ers about 16 topics, from cognition to mood to medical tests to startups. Ask questions and get advice on your current experiments.

3. Global QS meetups – come on out to one of the 33 QS Show&Tell meetup groups around the world and meet other folks like you. Some meetups record the talks on video to post to the main QS blog. You are also welcome to start your own group.

4. Quantified Self Blog – we always welcome guest posts on personal projects, and these are often our most popular posts. For example, Robin Barooah’s experiment with caffeine and productivity, or Seth Roberts’ experiment with one-legged standing and sleep. If you’d like to share your story with our readers here, please send it in to me at labs@quantifiedself.com.

5. Quantified Self Conference – our next conference is coming up November 26-27 in Amsterdam. All attendees have the opportunity to present their projects, or just come and listen and connect. You are most welcome to join us!

At QS we love to listen, so now I’m passing the microphone to you…

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Welcome to Four New QS Meetup Groups!

Four new Quantified Self Show&Tell meetup groups have started up in the past few weeks, so we want to give them a warm welcome here!

Dublin, Ireland – started by Mark Matthews and Ronan McDonnell

Raleigh, North Carolina – started by George Saines

Lousiville, Kentucky – started by Chris Hall and Joe Wheeler

South Florida – started by J.B. Glossinger and Luis Rosario

Feel free to join these groups if you live nearby, or check out the 33 QS Show&Tell meetups around the world. If there isn’t a group near where you live, you are welcome to go ahead and start one!

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Global Calendar for Quantified Self Meetups

Now that there are so many QS events happening around the world (July alone has eight events!), we decided to put together a global QS calendar to keep track of all of them.

If you’re traveling, or have friends in other cities you’d like to tell about a meetup, you can now see all upcoming events here. There’s also a handy widget on the right side of this blog.

Feel free to send any events to us that aren’t on this calendar and we’ll add them.

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5 New QS Meetup Groups

Five new Quantified Self Show&Tell meetup groups have started up since our recent conference, so we want to give them a warm welcome here!

Tulsa, Oklahoma – started by Jim Meehan

Portland, Oregon – started by Ioan

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – started by Theodore Wheeland

Victoria, British Columbia – started by Rasool

Edinburgh, Scotland – started by Lauran Halpin

Feel free to join these groups if you live nearby, or check out the 30 QS Show&Tell meetups around the world. If there isn’t a group near where you live, you are welcome to go ahead and start one!

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Vancouver Quantified Self: Personal Informatics Edition

qself

While I don’t think a local QS meetup would normally warrant the attention on the main blog, we’re having a bit of a special event at the local Vancouver group next week, that I wanted to share with a larger audience than I might otherwise be able to reach. I know this one comes hot on the heels of our last meetup, but we have some guests in town and it would be a shame not to take advantage of their presence.

For those not aware, SIG CHI, one of the largest human-computer interaction conferences is taking place in Vancouver over the next week. The conference includes all-day workshop on research into different aspects of personal informatics, organized by Ian Li.

The full-day workshop this week is quite expensive, but some of the speakers have been kind enough to talk about their work at our little group. Ian and I still working out the final details but the evening will be a combination of recaps of some workshop’s talks, demos, and opportunity for longer Q&A. More details on what exactly constitutes personal informatics follows, or check out personalinformatics.org.

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Upcoming QS meetups around the world

With 26 QS groups around the world now, chances are there’s a meetup somewhere near you. Here are some upcoming QS Show&Tells to check out:

April 27 – QS Seattle #2
April 28 – QS London #4
April 28 – QS Vermont #1
May 16 – QS Amsterdam #3
May 28-29 – Global QS Conference in Mountain View, California (63 tickets left!)
June 10 – QS Paris #1 (en français)

The 3 newest QS groups are in Montreal, Vermont, and Spain. If you don’t see a group in your area and would like to start one, please let us know and we’ll help you get going.

Thanks to all the dedicated QS organizers out there who are helping to bring people and tools together around self-tracking!

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