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QS15 Conference Preview: Katie McCurdy on Symptom Tracking with Spreadsheets

On June 18-20 we’ll be hosting the QS15 Conference & Activate Expo in San Francisco at  the beautiful facilities at the Fort Mason Center. This will be a very special year with three days of inspiring talks, demos, and discussion with your fellow self-trackers and toolmakers. As we start to fill out our program we’ll be highlighting speakers, sponsors, and attendees here. 

katie-mccurdyKatie McCurdy is a UX Designer and Researcher living in Burlington, VT. She also happens to have a few autoimmune diseases, and for the past few years she’s been fortunate to be able to focus her UX practice on healthcare. She is especially excited about helping patients communicate better with their healthcare providers, and she’s always experimenting with new and better ways of telling stories. A few years ago she created a visual timeline of her symptoms in an effort to tell a more concise and illustrative story to a new doctor. (It worked.) More recently, she’s been tracking symptoms in a spreadsheet in an effort to maintain control over them. Katie currently works with Open mHealth and the start-up Notabli.

Katie will be sharing her self-tracking story as part of our show&tell program, where attendees share their first-person accounts of what they’ve learned through self-tracking. Katie has been tracking her symptoms, medication doses, and other important health-related things in a giant spreadsheet for a year and a half. She call’s it her “Spreadsheet from Hell.”


In her talk, Katie will share insights that she’s learned from working with her spreadsheet including but not limited to: how she realized that she had chemical sensitivities; how she kept up with tracking for so long; how she got lazy and started entering incorrect data; and what she learned about her periods. We’re excited to have Katie joining us and asked her a few questions about herself and what she’s looking forward to at the conference.

QS: What is your favorite self-tracking tool (device, service, app, etc)?

Katie: Right now, I’m still using a spreadsheet most of the time for symptoms and related life things. It’s not my favorite, but it’s flexible and so far it’s the one I’ve been able to stick with the longest. I do keep Moves and Breeze on in the background on my phone at all times.

QS: What are you most looking forward to at the conference?

Katie: I’m looking forward to meeting and talking with the awesome people at the conference. I love the spirit of openness and experimentation in the QS community. I’m also looking forward to seeing what other people are learning about their health through tracking.

QS: What should people come talk to you about at the conference?

Katie: I’d love to speak with anyone who is interested in how health tracking can help with chronic illness. I’ve tracked symptoms and triggers on and off for about 3 years, and have learned some things that have helped me modify my behavior. I also have an interest in bringing health tracking data into a clinical setting and making it more useful for doctors and patients; that’s what I’m doing professionally with Open mHealth.

QS: What tools, devices, or apps do you want to see at the conference?

Katie: Anything that makes it easier for patients to gather data, and anything that makes it easier to make sense of data sets (heath or otherwise.)

QS: What topic do you think that Quantified Self community is not talking enough about?

Katie: I think it’s good to keep in mind that for most people, manual data tracking over long time periods is not very feasible – it’s just too hard. This is especially important for app developers to understand; even though the resulting data may be really useful, tracking is hard work. I personally have a love-hate relationship with it. I hope that the move to more passive data collection could result in more seamless data capture.

Katie’s session is just one of the many hands-on, up-to-date, expertly moderated sessions we’re planning for the QS15 Global Conference and Exposition. Register here!

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QS15 Conference Preview: Jamie Williams on Tracking My Days

On June 18-20 we’ll be hosting the QS15 Conference & Activate Expo in San Francisco at the beautiful facilities at the Fort Mason Center. This will be a very special year with two days of inspiring talks, demos, and discussion with your fellow self-trackers and toolmakers, plus a third day dedicated to the Activate public expo. As we start to fill out our program we’ll be highlighting speakers, discussion leaders, sponsors, and attendees here.

Jamie_bioJamie Williams has been involved with QS for a few years, giving his first show&tell talk at the Chicago QS group in Dec. 2012, and later, after moving to St. Louis, he became a co-organizer of the St. Louis QS group. In the fall of 2014 he gave a fantastic show&tell on exploring his Fitbit data. His  background in software engineering and data visualization has a deep influence on his interests in Quantified Self and self-tracking.

At the QS15 Conference Jamie will sharing his long-standing project to automate the process of continuously tracking what he’s up to during the day. He started out several years ago by building an iPhone app with a UX optimized for continuous tracking, but after using it for a week he found that manual tracking was too tedious and intrusive to be a sustainable solution.

Since then, technology has evolved to the point where it should be possible to automate this tracking using various apps, devices and sensors, whose data can be aggregated together to form a correlated timeline of how I spend my time each day.


A visualization of daily activity data taken with a prototype iPhone app Jamie built.

We’re excited to have Jamie joining us at QS15 and asked him a few questions about himself and what he’s looking forward to at the conference.

QS: What is your favorite self-tracking tool (device, service, app, etc)?

Jamie: I use several apps and devices, but I guess the one that seems most useful at the moment is the Fitbit Charge HR. I particularly like the automated sleep tracking.

QS: What are you most looking forward to at the conference?

Jamie: I’m looking forward to networking with other self quantifiers who are interested in activity/time tracking in particular, and hopefully finding potential avenues for collaboration. I’m also looking forward to learning about new tools that people are building.

QS: What should people come talk to you about at the conference (what are you interests and expertise)?

Jamie: I recently pivoted my career into the healthcare space with a position as a data visualization engineer at a large health system. Before that I was an iOS software engineer. One of the difficult problems in QS is how to aggregate the growing body of data streams to build a unified and coherent story that we can use to gain insight about our lives. I’d love to hear how others are approaching this.

QS: What tools, devices, or apps do you want to see at the conference?

Jamie: I’m really interested in seeing the next generation of biometric tracking tools, for example, blood screening. I’m also curious to learn of any projects centered around information radiators/dashboards for personal QS tracking.

QS: What topic do you think that Quantified Self community is not talking enough about?

Jamie: One of the recurring challenges in this space for any kind of tool or technique is: how to find the sweet spot balance between automated tracking and user engagement? Tracking diet is a good example: I don’t do it because it requires too much manual effort, but would love to have the data. Tracking my financial transactions, on the other hand, is completely automated, which is good, but I have almost no daily engagement with that data. The really hard problem is to find a way to automate data tracking while at the same time presenting the info to the user in a timely and compelling way that can impact their behavior.

Jamie’s session is just one of the many hands-on, up-to-date, expertly moderated sessions we’re planning for the QS15 Global Conference and Exposition.

Register here!

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What is a Quantified Self Conference?

If you’ve seen the announcement for our 2015 QS Conference & Expo and you’ve never been to a QS event before you may be asking yourself what our conferences are all about. From our very first meetup in 2008 through our six conferences and numerous events we’ve emphasized the role of the personal story and real-world experience. We do this in a variety of ways.

First, we run our conferences as a carefully curated unconference. When you register, you’re asked to tell us about the self-tracking projects you’re working on and other QS-related ideas you have. Our conference organization team goes through every registration, diving deep into personal websites, Twitter feeds, and blog posts. We love seeing individuals using self-tracking in new and different ways to find out something interesting about themselves and we work hard to surface truly unique and inspiring stories.

How does that manifest itself in the program? The core of our conference program is made up of the nearly two dozen show&tell talks where self-trackers get up and tell their story by answering our three prime questions: What did you do? How did you do it? What did you learn? It may seem simple, but these three questions provide a stable and consistent narrative to inspire you to learn and engage with your own tracking practice in new and different ways.

We’ve spent some time combing through our vast video archive to showcase some of our favorite talks from our previous conferences. We hope you find them enjoyable and they inspire you to join us on June 18-20 in San Francisco for our 2015 QS Conference & Expo. Who knows, maybe you’ll be on stage and we’ll be learning from you!

Sara Riggare on ‘How Not To Fall’
Sara Riggare is co-organizer of Quantified Self Stockholm. She is also an engineer, a PhD student and a tireless researcher of Parkinson’s disease. In this fascinating talk, Sara describes using body sensors to help her control her gait.

Vivian Ming on Tracking Her Son’s Diabetes
Vivienne Ming is an accomplished neuroscientist and entrepreneur. Two years ago her son, Felix, was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. In this talk, presented at the 2013 Quantified Self Global Conference, Vivienne explains what they’re learning as they track and analyze his data

Chris Bartley on Understanding Chronic Fatigue
While on a research trip, Chris contracted Reiter’s Syndrome. After his recovered, something still didn’t feel right. Chris consulted his physician and started tracking his wellness along with his diet and supplement intake. What follows is an amazing story about what Chris learned when he started applying his knowledge of statistics to his own data.

Adrienne Andrew Slaughter on Tracking Carbs and Exercise
Adrienne Andrew Slaughter was testing out a new diet that included carbohydrate restriction. At the same time she was commuting to work on a bike. She started to notice feeling tired and slow during her commutes and wondered if her dietary changes had anything to do with it. Luckily, Adrienne was tracking her commutes and her diet and was able to run detailed data analysis to find out what happens when she goes carbless.

Bob Troia: Understanding My Blood Glucose
Bob Troia isn’t a diabetic and he’s not out of range, but he wanted to see if he could lower his fasting glucose levels. He started a long-term tracking experiment where he tested his blood glucose and began to explore the effects of supplementation and lifestyle factors.

Sacha Chua on Building and Using A Personal Dashboard
Sacha Chua started tracking her clothes to make sure she was varying her wardrobe on daily basis. This led he to ask, “What else can I track?” As she added time tracking, food, library books, and so much more (you can view the whole set on QuantifiedAwesome.com)

Robby Macdonnell on Tracking 8,000 Screen Hours
For the last six years Robby Macdonnell has been tracking his productivity and how he spends his time on his various computers (home and work) and even how he uses phone. Over those years he’s amassed 8,300 hours of screen time. Watch his great talk to hear what’s he learned about his work habits, productivity and how he’s come to think about time.

Sky Christopherson on Self-Tracking at the London Olympics
Sky Christopherson first shared his experience with tracking and improving his sleep in 2012. That tracking led him on a path to achieving a world record as a mastars level track cyclists. Later that year, Sky began helping other athletes us self-tracking and personal data to obtain their best performances, culminating in a surprise silver medal for the 2012 women’s olympic track cycling team, on which he served as a training advisor. In March of this year, Sky and his wife Tamara gave another QS talk at our Bay Area Meetup in which they told the wonderful story of how the 2012 Olympic team rode to their medal, a journey captured in the documentary, Personal Gold.

These are only a small sample of the amazing talks and self-tracking projects that are shared at our Quantified Self Conferences. We’d love to hear your story. Register today and let us know what you’re working on!

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A Look Inside the 2014 Quantified Self Europe Conference


At Quantified Self Labs, we create and host events that bring together our community of trackers, toolmakers, researchers, and other individuals interested in how self-tracking is shaping our culture. We focus mainly on  meetups and conferences. With the 2014 Quantified Self Europe Conference coming up in May, we thought we’d let you know what makes it a unique and rewarding experience for us and our growing community.

When and Where
Since our first European Conference in 2011, we’ve been lucky to present at the Casa 400 Hotel in beautiful Amsterdam. This year’s conference will take place on May 10th and 11th to take advantage of the spring weather. Casa 400 is just a short bike ride from central Amsterdam and is conveniently located within waking distance of a public train station.

Our conferences are unique community-driven events that we like to refer to as  “carefully curated unconferences”. All of our sessions and talks come from our conference attendees, which requires more hands-on work from our program staff. The end result is dynamic program that reflects the interest, insights, and experiences of our community. Our program is divided into four different types of sessions and presentations held concurrently throughout both days of the conference.

qseu_talkShow & Tell Talks: These talks are personal first-person self-tracking stories. We ask speakers to present their tracking experiments with an emphasis on what they’ve learned. At previous conferences we’ve heard talks on tracking Parkinson’s diseasecomputer use, continuous heart rate, and other fascinating subjects.




qseu_breakoutBreakout Discussions: Held concurrently with Show & Tell talks, the breakouts are group discussions about a specific topic related to Quantified Self. Each discussion topic is proposed and led by a conference attendee. Previous breakouts have touched on issues related to privacy, the “missing trackers”, DIY tracking, visualization design, the role of open data in the QS community, and many others.



qseu_talk2Lunchtime Ignite Talks: After a healthy and delicious meal (lunch is provided) we encourage attendees to listen to six or eight rapid-fire Ignite talks from other participants. These talks are similar to our Show & Tell talks, but are typically more light-weight and entertaining. A great example is this talk given by Mark Moschel on tracking rejection.





Office Hours:  We encourage participants to bring current projects, tools, or applications they’re working on. We provide office hour space during program sessions for people to present their project and interact with attendees in one-on-one conversations. We’ve been delighted to see a wide range of concepts exposed during office hours such as art projects, new visualization methods, meet and greets with luminaries in the field, and new tool prototypes.



Take a peak at our 2012 European Conference program for more examples of how we put together a collaborative program packed with learning and sharing opportunities.

Sponsors and Friends
We couldn’t create our conferences without the support of our generous sponsors. We’d like to thank our current annual sponsors,  Autodesk and Intel,  for their continued support. We are grateful for the support from this year’s conference sponsors: Gero Lab, Aro (Saga), Scanadu, Withings, and Zensorium. If you’re interested in sponsoring our work in general, or the upcoming European Conference, please get in touch.

We also want to thank our Friends of QS. These toolmakers, inventors, and entrepreneurs directly support our work and community. If you’d like to learn more about our Friends of QS program just let us know.

Join Us
If you are an advanced user, designer, inventor, entrepreneur, journalist, scientist, or health professional, please join us in beautiful Amsterdam for two days of collaboration and inspiration!

We expect to sell out, so if you plan to attend please register today!

We’d like to thank Yago Veith and Henrik Ahlen for these wonderful images from our 2012 Quantified Self Europe Conference. Check out all the pictures in our Flickr Group.


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Conference Preview: Bill Schuller on Self-Tracking with Children


How will children respond to a world where personal data is ubiquitous? Bill Schuller is starting to find out with his two young children and will be sharing his story at the upcoming 2013 Quantified Self Global Conference.

BillSchullerBill started tracking his exercise and weight in 2010. His preschool-aged son, listening to his father talk about his daily metrics at the dinner table, began to imitate Bill’s tracking behavior, regularly stepping on the scale, not to watch his weight, but to “just check my numbers.” Bill then designed tracking games for him and his son. One of them involved putting things away in the house while tracking steps and gaining “clean-up points.”

This fun talk will feature more stories on the creative ways Bill and his children are playing with self-tracking. As a preview, we have a version of the talk that he gave in San Diego in March 2012. Watch the video and then find out at the conference what further data adventures Bill has had with his kids in the last year and a half.

The Quantified Self Global Conference will be held in San Francisco on October 10th and 11th. Registration is now open. As with all of our conferences, our speakers are members of the community. We hope to see you there!

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Conference Preview: Kostas Augemberg and the Quantified Summer

If you’ve followed along here on the Quantified Self website or attended a meetup in your community you know that self-tracking isn’t limited to using gadgets or apps. Some of our most interesting talk come from individuals who are exploring their lives through the lens of personal data collection. That is, data that and methods that are very personal and specific to the individual. Kostas Augemberg is no exception. We’ve already posted a great talk by Kostas that describes what happened when he asked himself, “How can I track my happiness?” and we’re excited he will be joining us at the upcoming 2013 Quantified Self Global Conference.

konstantin_presentationKostas is a statistician and has been on a personal quest called Measured Me for the past year. His goal along this journey is to help develop a personal holistic system to help him “improve and understand his life.” Over this past year he’s taken a deep dive into exploring what it’s like to track subjective and objective wellbeing. These include tracking data in areas like “Existential Wellbeing”, “Living Well”, and “External Factors” among others. Suffice to say, this is an ambitious project!

At the conference Kostas will be sharing insights and results from his “Quantified Summer” project during which he attempted to capture his holistic and comprehensive wellbeing for 100 days. This includes tracking the following variables: Happiness, Life Satisfaction, Physical Health, Physical Energy, Stress, Emotional State, Alertness, Executive Cognitive Functions, and Sleep Quality at regular intervals each day for 100 consecutive days. We’re excited to learn about his tracking project and can’t wait to hear more! If you would like to follow along before the conference Kostas invites you to monitor his progress on his Lifestream dashboard.

The Quantified Self Global Conference will be held in San Francisco on October 10th and 11th. Registration is now open. As with all our conferences our speakers are members of the community. We hope to see you there!

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European Conference Preview: Breakout Sessions


At its core, Quantified Self is a community-driven effort to extract personal meaning from personal data. Our conferences reflect that by providing opportunities to learn what others are doing in their Quantified Self practice. Through our Show & Tell presentations you get to see first-hand accounts of how data is being collected and put to use in order to understand and investigate personal phenomena, but that’s not all our conference have to offer. In the spirit of collaborative learning we also schedule “Breakout Sessions” alongside our wonderful Show & Tell talks. These sessions, like all our conference programming, are developed and and facilitated by our wonderful attendees. Here’s a preview of just a few of the many fantastic Breakouts we have scheduled.

Title: The Self in Data
Breakout Leader: Sara Watson
Description: In my research on the QS community, I’ve found that we talk a lot about our technical requirements of data, and about how we want to use data. What we don’t often talk about is what it means to know ourselves through data. This breakout is an opportunity to discuss what data tells us about ourselves and how we relate to our data.

Title: On Sleep Tracking
Breakout Leader: Christel De Maeyer
Description: Does self-monitoring with devices like myZeo, Body Media create enough awareness and persuasion to change behavior and to maintain new habits? We would like to use this session to learn and share our experiences.

Title: Tracking breathing as a Unifying Experience
Breakout Leader: Danielle Roberts
Description: During this session we can exchange experiences on the tracking of respiration and tracking and visualising of life group data in general. You’ll have the opportunity to take part in a demo using custom breath tracking wearables and real time visualisation of breath data.

Title: Activity trackers
Breakout Leader: Michael Kazarnowicz
Description: We’ll take a look at the most common activity trackers on the market today. We will look at the trackers (maybe even play around with them hands-on) and compare the functions and the data you can get from them.

Title: QS as a Catalyst for Learning?
Breakout Leader: Hans de Zwart
Description: In this session we will explore whether quantifying yourself can act as a catalyst for learning. Can it speed up the learning process? Can it help us in achieving the holy grail of learning, a personalized tutor? What perverse effects might it have in the context of learning?

The Quantified Self European Conference will be held in Amsterdam on May 11th & 12th. Registration is now open. As with all our conferences our speakers are members of the community. We hope to see you there!

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