Tag Archives: Privacy

Laurie Frick: Experiments in Self-tracking

As much as we talk about self-tracking being about health or fitness. . . I think it’s about identity. I think it’s about us. It’s about seeing something meaningful in who we are.

Laurie Frick is a self-tracker and visual artist. It this unique combination that has led her down a path of learning about herself while using the data she collects to inform her artistic work. What started with time and sleep tracking rapidly expanded to included other types of data. In this short talk, presented at the 2014 Quantified Self Europe Conference, Laurie explains how her past experiences have informed her new way of thinking about data, “Don’t hide. Get more.”

If you’re interested in Laurie’s artistic work I highly recommend spending some time browsing the gallery on her website.

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What We Are Reading

Enjoy this week’s reading list. If you’d like to submit something for future What We’re Reading posts we invite you to get in touch!

Articles
Data Journalism Needs to Up Its Own Standards by Alberto Cairo. The influx of new data-based journalistic endeavors seems to grow by the day. In this great piece Alberto Cairo presents four suggestions for those practicing that art and science of data-based reporting.

Big Data Should Not be a Faith-Based Initiative by Cory Doctorow. The idea of “big data” as a miraculous fountain of new knowledge is widespread. In this article Cory Doctorow brings to light some of the major concerns about personal data and the true possibility of de-identification.

Data Privacy, Machine Learning, and the Destruction of Mysterious Humanity by John Foreman. This is a long read, but definitely worth the time. If you’re like me you’ll spend the next few hours (day?) thinking about yourself, the various companies and organizations consuming your data, and how your life may (or may not) be shaped by the information you willingly hand over.

Privacy Behaviors of Lifeloggers using Wearable Cameras [PDF] by Roberto Hoyle, Robert Templeman, Steven Armes et al. This research paper paper offers a good glimpse into the the concerns and real behaviors of people using photo lifelogging systems. This is an area we’ve previously explored (see Kitty Ireland’s great write-up about our lifelogging town hall at QSEU13) and we expect to continue discussing.

Show&Tell
Battery Life, 6mo Checkup By James Davenport. It may seem odd to have a post about tracking battery life from a laptop here in the Show&Tell section, but this is a really neat post. As part of tracking his laptop battery he also tracked his usage and led to some interesting data about his sleep. (Don’t forget to check out the post that kicked off his battery tracking.)

Bringing My Data Together by John T. Moore. John is on a journey of improving his health and being more active through self-tracking/monitoring. In this post he pulls together some of his most important data, but I also suggest reading his summary of how he got started with self-tracking.

Visualizations

carsharing
Seven Days of Carsharing by Density Design. Not exactly personal data here, but some beautiful visualizations based on one week of data from the Enjoy, a carsharing service in Milan.

aprilzero
Aprilzero by Anand Sharma. I stumbled on this website recently via the #quantifiedself feed on Twitter. The visualizations and interactivity on this personal data site are really nice.

LR_annualreports
Lee Rogers’ Annual Reports by Lee Rogers. Lee has been tracking different aspects of his life for more than three years. Since 2011 he’s put together Annual Reports detailing his personal data. You can view his 2011, 2012, and 2013 reports on his website.

From the Forum
Devising Experiments
Looking for a General QS Device
Masters Thesis: Self-Tracking Motivations
Greetings From Germany

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QSEU14 Breakout: Open Privacy

Today’s post comes to us from Laurie Frick. Laurie led a breakout session at the 2014 Quantified Self Europe Conference that opened up a discussion about what it would mean to be able to access all the data being gathered about yourself and then open that up for full transparency. In the summary below, Laurie describes that discussion and her ideas around the idea of living an open and transparent life. If you’re interested in these ideas and what it might mean to live an open and transparent life we invite you to join the conversation on our forum.  

LFrick

Open Privacy
by Laurie Frick

Fear of surveillance is high, but what if societies with the most openness develop faster culturally, creatively and technically?

Open-privacy turns out to an incredibly loaded term, something closer to data transparency seems to create less consternation. We opened the discussion with the idea, “What if in the future we had access to all the data collected about us, and sharing that data openly was the norm?”

Would that level of transparency gain an advantage for that society or that country? What would it take to get to there? For me personally, I want access to ALL the data gathered about me, and would be willing to share lots of it; especially to enable new apps, new insights, new research, and new ideas.

In our breakout, with an international group of about 21 progressive self-trackers in the Quantified Selfc community, I was curious to hear how this conversation would go. In the US, data privacy always gets hung-up on the paranoia for denial of health-care coverage, and with a heavy EU group all covered with socialized-medicine, would the health issue fall away?

Turns out in our discussion, health coverage was barely mentioned, but paranoia over ‘big-brother’ remained. The shift seemed to focus the fear toward not-to-be-trusted corporations instead of government. The conversation was about 18 against and 3 for transparency. An attorney from Denmark suggested that the only way to manage that amount of personal data was to open everything, and simply enforce penalizing misuse. All the schemes for authorizing use of data one-at-a-time are non-starters.

“Wasn’t it time for fear of privacy to flip?” I asked everyone, and recalled the famous Warren Buffet line “…be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful”. It’s just about to tip the other way, I suggested. Some very progressive scientists like John Wilbanks at the non-profit Sage Bionetworks are activists for open sharing of health data for research. Respected researchers like Dana Boyd, and the smart folks at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard are pushing on this topic, and the Futures Company consultancy writes “it’s time to rebalance the one-sided handshake” and describes the risk of hardening of public attitudes as a result of the imbalance.

Once you start listing the types of personal data that are realistically gathered and known about each of us TODAY, the topic of open transparency gets very tricky.

  • Time online
  • Online clicks, search
  • Physical location, where have you been
  • Money spent on anything, anywhere
  • Credit history
  • Net-worth
  • Do you exercise
  • What you eat
  • Sex partners
  • Bio markers, biometrics
  • Health history
  • DNA
  • School grades/IQ
  • Driving patterns, citations
  • Criminal behavior

For those at the forefront of open privacy and data transparency it’s better to frame it as a social construct rather than a ‘right’. It’s not something that can be legislated, but rather an exchange between people and organizations with agreed upon rules. It’s also not the raw data that’s valuable – but the analysis of patterns of human data.

I’m imagining one country or society will lead the way, and it will be evident that an ecosystem of researchers and apps can innovate given access to pools of cheap data. I don’t expect this research will lessen the value to the big-corporate data gatherers, and companies will continue to invest. A place to start is to have individuals the right to access, download, view, correct and delete data about them. In the meantime I’m sticking with my motto: “Don’t hide, get more”.

If you’re interested in the idea of open privacy, data access, and transparency please  join the conversation on our forum or here in the comments. 

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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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What We Are Reading

Another great reading list for you today. We hope you enjoy these insightful and interesting pieces of writing as much as we did.

Douglas C. Engelbart passed away this week. Most known for the “mother of all demos,” he had a profound impact on the design and implementation of computing in our world.

Computer Visionary Who Invented the Mouse by John Markoff: A nice read that explains Engelbart’s background and experiences.

A few words on Doug Engelbart by Bret Victor: Bret does a masterful job here imploring us to think not about what Engelbart accomplished, but rather what he intended to do.

He intended to augment human intellect. He intended to boost collective intelligence and enable knowledge workers to think in powerful new ways, to collectively solve urgent global problems.

Thoughts and News on Quantified Self

Home Blood Pressure Monitoring: Take It to the Bank by David Magid and Beverly Green: This short editorial explains hos making blood pressure monitoring “more like modern banking: accessible, easy, and convenient” can improve hypertension management.

Winds of Change by the unnamed at the Economist: Essentially a book review of three new volumes on data analysis and visualization, this article poses an interesting question: “But should these books have been published on paper at all? ”

Data Confessions of the Quantified Self by Dorien Zandbergen: An attendee of our recent Quantified Self Europe Conference, Dr. Zandbergen presents her thoughts on the QS community and her observations of “people engaging in radical acts of self-disclosure.”

Git and GitHub for Data by Rufus Pollack: We have a keen interest here at QS in data and it’s ability to be shared amongst collaborators. In this post, Rufus Pollack describes his ongoing work describing and building systems for storing and versioning data.

Quantifying Our Cities, Ourselves by David Sasaki: Although not a new idea (see Esther Dysons The Quantified Community), David Sasaki does a nice job here of describing the opportunity to use data and “actionable knowledge” to understand and improve our cities.

Mad Scientist Sees a Future Where We See Our Quantified Selves on eBay by Daniela Hernandez: A intriguing interview with Walter De Brouwer, founder of Scanadu. (Disclosure: Scanadu is a sponsor of Quantified Self Labs).

Data, Metadata, and Privacy
There have been a lot of reactions to recent news about U.S. surveillance programs and rights to privacy. Here are a few links we found particularly compelling.

Me and my data – thoughts on online surveillance by Ethan Zuckerman: This is a wonderful piece discussing privacy and our data. Ethan does a masterful job of explaining the importance of metadata and gives a great example stemming from his work with the MIT Media Lab’s Immersion Project. (Editor’s note: We’ll have more on Immersion coming soon. Stay tuned.)

Measuring the importance of data privacy: embarrassment and cost by Jeff Leek: Another post from our new favorite statistician. Here Jeff talks about data and privacy and how he thinks about potential harm.

Using Metadata to Find Paul Revere by Kieran Healy: A sociologist describes a scenario where identifying Paul Revere as a traitor can be done with simple metadata and social network analysis.

But I say again, if a mere scribe such as I—one who knows nearly nothing—can use the very simplest of these methods to pick the name of a traitor like Paul Revere from those of two hundred and fifty four other men, using nothing but a list of memberships and a portable calculating engine, then just think what weapons we might wield in the defense of liberty one or two centuries from now.

What You’re Reading

Stealth Fitness Startup Human Wants to Make Quantified Self Mainstream | 395 tweets

The meta-quantified self: Argus app for iOS tracks all your health-tracking apps | 198 tweets

The Potential Behind Wearable Gadgets | 52 tweets

The Body Data Craze | 42 tweets

The Quantified Self: Growing Interest in APIs to Manage Personal Data | 23 tweets

Vanavond in OMT LIVE: Quantified self, huis in je handpalm en meer | 19 tweets

Hidden Capitalism In Life Hacking & The Quantified Self | 15 tweets

Wearable Devices Nudge You to Health | 14 tweets

Global List of Digital Health & Health Innovation Events | 12 tweets

Thanks again to Beau Gunderson for providing us with the top Quantified Self links mentioned on Twitter this week

Bonus Link
Gmail Thinks My Name is a Distraction by Stan James: What happens when machines start telling us what is and what isn’t important?

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Announcing: the Quantified Self Forum

By popular request, we have just launched a global QS forum at: http://forum.quantifiedself.com/

Gary, Dan Dascalescu, and I took some exciting topics from the conference and turned them into forum discussions, with expert moderators to help explore ideas and answer questions. You’ll find discussions on:

- Apps & Tools, moderated by Dan Dascalescu

Data Ownership & Privacy, moderated by Ryan Calo

Design, moderated by Steve Dean

Habit Change, moderated by Ernesto Ramirez and Gary Isaac Wolf

Fitness, moderated by Alexandra Carmichael and Dan Dascalescu

Learning & Cognition, moderated by Nick Winter

Medical tests, moderated by Dave Asprey

Mood, moderated by Margie Morris

Nutrition, moderated by Alexandra Carmichael and Dan Dascalescu

Sleep, moderated by Alexandra Carmichael and Gary Isaac Wolf

Self Experimentation, moderated by Seth Roberts

QS Startups, moderated by Eri Gentry and Ernesto Ramirez

QS Research & Media, moderated by Rajiv Mehta

QS Open Forum for any Quantified Self topic not covered above, moderated by Alexandra Carmichael and Gary Isaac Wolf

Please join in the conversations, ask questions, share what you’ve learned, and come play with us!

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Would You Track Your Health on Facebook?

I was curious to see if I was the only one crazy enough to share my health data publicly, so last week I posted two questions as my Facebook status. “Would you track your health on Facebook (weight, calories, sleep, exercise) for all your friends to see?”, followed by “What if it was completely private for only you to see?”

The answers I got surprised me. I didn’t expect 26 people to reply. I didn’t expect such detailed opinions. I didn’t expect the answer to be a resounding, 70% yes.

Facebook poll 1.png

Let me clarify that these are not QS enthusiasts. I asked all my Facebook friends because I think they represent the general Facebook population – only two dedicated self-trackers replied. It got even more interesting when I broke down the responses down by gender and privacy options.

facebook poll 2.png

Now I need to qualify this a bit. I know 26 responses doesn’t represent a statistically significant sample size by any means. Also, there was an unequal number of women (16) and men (10). Still, it’s an interesting discussion starter. It makes me want to know if there really is a gender difference. Are women more reluctant to share tracking information publicly? And more broadly, is there a gender bias in the act of tracking itself? Do women track themselves more or less than men do? Do they track different things?

Another surprise was the range and passion of replies, from “no way!’ to “I would love that!”, and everywhere in between. Here are some of the comments I found most interesting, in no particular order.

————-

“I would keep stuff like basic fitness info on something like facebook.  I wouldn’t trust medical info here.”

“Public daily measurement is an interesting way to keep you on your diet/exercise plan/meditation schedule, but most people probably want to share the social/personal significance of the data rather than the data itself. e.g. “Mike lost 2 lbs this week! Now he’s 10% of the way to his goal!” rather than daily weight variation.”

“don’t mind anyone seeing this info …it’s just the job of collecting it”

“On one hand, I don’t think my “friends” care what I weigh, etc., though I don’t mind sharing this info with them. In fact, I’d expect some might find this level of personal disclosure somewhat creepy and odd. Developing flexible privacy and data-sharing controls for both the information sharer and recipient will be important.

On the other hand, I’d like to make this info available to researchers and those developing applications for new forms of health monitoring systems. Facebook seems to have emerged as the current leading platform for social networking. It provides a strong platform for application developers to build tools for new types of interaction and collaboration. So, I hope that my participation on the cutting edge of health information monitoring will lead to beneficial new forms of medical practice.

I think social networking enables a new form of participatory science, which is more than passive observation. It allows for real-time feedback, social reinforcement for participants from trusted sources, and dynamically configurable experiments, which can lead to real-world outcomes.”

“I don’t think I would be comfortable doing this. I don’t trust that anything you put on facebook is completely private. I do like the idea though.”

“For what reason exactly? In the interest of being proactive about my health? Would there be a benefit to allowing people to see this info?”

“the caloric intake measure is hard for me…I’m more of a guestimator with food.  I’m not sure I’d like everyone to see my weight on here either.  Perhaps good motivation, but still.   I’d rather have a smaller community know about that (I’m not really a Biggest Loser reality show kind of person).”

“yes — would love to be able to add categories of things to track
and add and remove permissions easily — would rather share a report
than the data”


“to me it’s a simple layer of accountability, like going to the gym with a buddy versus going by yourself. Visibility=incentive. Imagine how many pushups I would do if I did…like at Cross Country practice – team pushing me, not just me+1, 2

here is where economies of scale, intertwining of cyborg lifestyle and quantity+content of connections have perfect opp to mashup”

“Only if I could lie.”

————-

What did I learn from this exercise? The biggest issues raised were privacy and meaning. People wanted to decide WHO got to see which parts of their data. They also wanted to explore WHY they should track themselves and what benefits they would derive. Two people questioned the logistics of how to track. Almost half of the respondents expressed a general mistrust of Facebook in terms of privacy controls.

What else did I learn? Well, maybe I’m not so crazy after all. :)

Now it’s time to open this up for the QS community to weigh in… Would YOU track your health on Facebook? Post your comments below.

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