Stephen Cartwright: 17 Years of Location Tracking

image30

“I started [tracking location] because I’m interested in all these invisible systems that we are immersed in.”

Stephen Cartwright has been tracking his latitude, longitude and elevation every hour since 1999. Even though the GPS in smartphones has made location tracking automatic, Stephen finds that he gets more reliable data from manually logging his location, of which he has almost 150,000 entries.

In this talk, Steven shows how seventeen years of location tracking has given him a wealth of data to explore in the form of three-dimensional data visualization sculptures. He has even brought some of these to QS conferences. They are amazing to behold in person.

While his visualizations show where he’s been, he says that it’s the negative space that can be more interesting, prompting the question, “Where do I need to go? What do I need to see?”

Other location tracking talks that we’ve featured include Jamie Aspinall‘s adventures in the UK, Robbie MacDonell on logging his transportation, and Alastair Tse on walking around Manhattan. We’ve also featured some great location-related visualizations from Bob Troia, Aaron Parecki, Eric Jain, and Tom McWright.  If you have some location data from Moves, we’ve also written a guide on mapping it.

Posted in Conference, QS15, Videos | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Opening Up Access by Madeleine Ball

17945188131_105021901b_o

From the Quantified Self Public Health Symposium

The Open Humans project is one of the most radical data access efforts underway today, both exemplifying new modes of access and also revealing, by contrast with conventional research and data protection systems, how much work remains to be done in our field. Madeleine Ball, co-founder of Open Humans and Director of Research for the Harvard Personal Genomes Project explains that the main premise of Open Humans is centered on the idea that researchers should freely share data from their studies back to the participants; and that participants should be able to use a well-designed, convenient, open platform to donate their data to science without de-identification. Because Open Humans is not premised on anonymized data, it is driving toward a new relationship between participants and scientists in which with both sides have names, and must communicate, negotiate, and share responsibility. “It’s more interesting than simply allowing broad sharing of identifiable data, because it enables ongoing connections around that data so new researchers can work with that person.”

Watch Madeleine’s video on Medium.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Paul LaFontaine: Using Heart Rate Variability to Analyze Stress in Conversation

Paul LaFontaine is the organizer for the Denver QS meetup and has given many fabulous talks on heart rate variability. If you are not familiar with HRV, you can think of it as the measurement of your nervous system’s reaction to a perceived threat.

“Vapor lock” is Paul’s term for that feeling when you are trying to retrieve something from memory in a conversation, but because of the stress of the situation (especially if it is with a boss), you lock up as your recall fails. To better understand this phenomenon and learn how to prevent it, Paul measured his HRV during 154 conversations with bosses and co-workers.

Because “vapor lock” is not a standard measurement, Paul shows the criteria he used to identify these moments in his data. His analysis revealed a likely cause for what locks him up, but it was not what he expected and it changed his approach to meetings and conversations at work.

If you want to watch more talks about heart rate variability, Randy Sargent showed us what his HRV looks like through a spectogram. Matt Dobson talked about using it, along with other measurements, as a way to passively detect emotions. And I used a HRV device to track my stress at work.

Posted in Conference, QS15, Videos | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Make Advanced Self-Measurement More Accessible by Bob Evans

17918112346_0de1c27322_o

From the Quantified Self Public Health Symposium

Why can’t everybody use advanced analytics to understand themselves? Bob Evans is the lead developer of PACO, an open source tool for supporting both individual discovery and large scale participatory research. Bob originally designed PACO as a personal project to get a better handle on how he felt at work by querying himself at random times during the day, a method known as “experience sampling.” PACO has grown and developed over time into a platform for experimentation used in over one thousand projects designed by researchers, companies, and individuals. Here, Bob shares some of his lessons about how and where the individual quest for self-discovery connects with large scale research. “The goal is to make it easier for researchers and individuals to experience their own lives, be scientists, and make their own experiments at will. The long tail of questions that people want to ask is very, very long.”

Watch Bob’s video on Medium.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

What We Are Reading

WWAR

Articles

This Scientist Is Turning Every Element In the Periodic Table Into Music by Jennifer Ouellette. We have seen Randy Sargent analyze his heart rate variability with a spectogram, a tool normally used for visualizing sound. This project is perhaps the inverse, turning the molecular structure of elements into audible tones. Surprisingly, “sonification” is becoming a useful analytical tool in materials science. Here’s the sound of silicon. -Steven

Building a Better Tracker: Older Consumers Weigh In On Activity and Sleep Monitoring Devices. (PDF) This study by the Georgia Home Lab that explored the value of self-tracking for people over 50. The researchers enrolled 92 participants and set them up with seven different activity trackers, then followed them for a six week period. While participants tended to believe that self-tracking could be valuable, most of them did not learn much of interest, and reason is telling: the lessons provided by the trackers were too general. “Participants who did not find the devices to be useful said that they wanted more data related to their specific conditions and that they wanted notification if the data indicated something of concern. More sensors relevant to health conditions was the most common suggestion for improvement.” -Gary

If You Want Life Insurance, Think Twice Before Getting A Genetic Test by Christina Farr and Cops are asking Ancestry.com and 23andMe for their customers’ DNA by Kashmir Hill. I’m filing both of these stories under “Ways your data can be used against you.” -Steven 

BMI Is A Terrible Measure Of Health: But we keep using it anyway by Katherine Hobson. It’s not news for me that BMI is a terrible metric. But if BMI is not a good proxy for health, what metric is out there that is better and as easy to measure? This article looks at mid-section measurements as a candidate. -Steven

Your Letters Helped Challenger Shuttle Engineer Shed 30 Years Of Guilt by Howard Berkes. This is a short piece, but it touches on themes of data-based arguments, courage, guilt, and self-forgiveness. -Steven

Show&Tell

Know Thy Cycle, Know Thyself by Ilyse Magy. Using the Fertility Awareness Method and Kindara, Ilyse diagnosed a previously unnoticed vitamin deficiency that had a huge effect on her wellbeing, as well as gained other important insights into cyclical dimensions of her health and wellbeing. ”Once I started charting, I was pretty amazed by what I was learning, but also kind of mad that no one had ever told me this stuff before.” -Gary

Why I Weighed My Whiskers by John Cousins. Inspired by an anecdote about a man’s beard growth while working on a remote island, Jon explores whether there is a relationship between his mood and facial hair. Yes, you read that right. -Steven

Stoic Self-Tracking by Alberto Frigo. One of the most consistently interesting chronicles of a self-tracking life is Morris Villarroel’s shadow of the stream, where he writes on his ongoing, multi-year life-logging projects, about which he’s given several excellent conference talks. But this week Morris turned over his blog to another deeply reflective self-tracker, the artist Alberto Frigo, whose self-tracking practice includes photographing everything he picks up in his right hand. In this post, Alberto revives an old word – operosity – in describing the worthy laboriousness of self-care. -Gary

Excerpt from Alberto’s piece:

On a bus from the Venice airport to the mountains where I am now restoring an abandoned barn to deposit my life-work, I was reading Seneca. I was reading it for different reasons; in the first place, it was what an old professor of mine  quoted when he decided to give up his inspiring career and retire to a small barn near the town the bus was passing. Secondly, reading Seneca was like a counter-reaction to all the Anglo-Saxon stuff one is forced to refer to in today’s humanities. Thirdly, Seneca has often been quite superficially pointed out as one of the first persons to quantify himself.

Basis Breakdown. This an interesting take on a weekly journal, combining Basis Peak stats with daily reflections. -Steven

Data Visualizations

 

LifeOfAmericans

A Day in the Life of Americans by Nathan Yau. This visualization is a timelapse showing how Americans spend their day, based on the Bureau of Labor’s American Time Use Study. It would like to see a similar visualization, but for a single person with each dot representing a different date. -Steven

 

Codeology

Codeology. This project takes code from github and represents them with an odd combination of 3D and ASCII text to create organic seeming shapes. After looking at a couple dozen of these, I wanted to see the shapes interact with each other. Arena fight, perhaps? -Steven

 

Shifts-in-power-in-the-Supreme-Court

The Potential for the Most Liberal Supreme Court in Decades by Alicia Parlapiano and Margo Sanger-Katz. This excellent visualization uses Martin-Quinn scores to show the ideological leanings of Supreme Court justices’ rulings by year. More importantly, by highlighting the relative liberal or conservatism of the justice who sits in the ideological median, it shows how the character of the court has shifted through the years. -Steven

Posted in What We're Reading | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Ilyse Magy: Know Thy Cycle, Know Thyself

“My luteal phase went from 10 days to 16, which is a frickin’ Quantified Self miracle.”

In this great talk, Ilyse Magy describes how tracking her menstrual cycle with the Fertility Awareness Method and Kindara worked for more than birth control. Tracking her cycle helped her understand how it affects her emotional state, and led her to find out that she had a previously unnoticed vitamin deficiency.  ”Once I started charting, I was pretty amazed by what I was learning, but also kind of mad that no one had ever told me this stuff before.”

You can discuss this show&tell talk at the QS Forum.

Posted in Conference, QS15, Videos | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Patient Voice by Heidi Dohse

17941280292_27ee083039_o

From the Quantified Self Public Health Symposium

Heidi Dohse has been a heart patient since 1983. As someone living with a pacemaker, “one of the best quantified self devices,” she’s deeply interested in understanding how patient-generated data can play a role in improving the treatment and diagnosis of heart conditions. And as a member of the steering committee of the Health eHeart Alliance, she’s intimately involved with bringing not only patient data but the patient voice into the research environment through the Health eHeart Study. Currently, there are over 20,000 patients signed up to share their data with the study. “It’s not quite a million yet, but we’re going to get there.”

Watch Heidi’s video on Medium.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Friends in High Places

Can’t resist just posting this photo from our friend Dana Lewis, taken today at the White House. She’s holding up her DIY artificial pancreas system as her fellow #wearenotwaiting activist Howard Look talks data access with – yes, that’s him – President Barack Obama.

 

DanaHowardPOTUS

 

For more on Dana, Howard, and the movement to build a new ecosystem for diabetes care, see the links below:

Diabetes Data for All: Interview with Howard Look

DIY Diabetes: Interview with Dana Lewis and Scott Leibrand

Explaining Nightscout by Lane Desborough

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Participants at the Center by Michael Kellen

Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 12.13.49 PM

From the Public Health Symposium

The promise of Apple’s Research Kit is that everybody can contribute to medical research. But what does this really mean? Michael Kellen is the Director of Technology at Sage Bionetworks, and was closely involved in the development of two of the four research apps that launched with Research Kit: The Parkinson Disease mPower app and Share the Journey, a breast cancer survivors research app. We asked Michael to give us early word about what was involved in opening up a platform for large-scale research participation.

Watch Michael’s talk on Medium.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Jon Cousins: Why I Weighed My Whiskers

Jon Cousins has given wonderful show&tell talks on mood tracking. Like most methods for measuring mood, his process involves a subjective assessment of his well being. But what if there was a physical measurement related to mood that doesn’t involve blood work?

Inspired by an anecdote about a man’s beard growth while working on a remote island, Jon explores whether there is a relationship between his mood and facial hair. Yes, you read that right.

Posted in Conference, QS15, Videos | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment