Tag Archives: Privacy
We hope you enjoy this week’s list of articles, posts, show&tell descriptions, and visualizations!
I’m Terrified of My New TV: Why I’m Scared to Turn This Thing On — And You’d Be, Too by Michael Price. Michael, a lawyer at the Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law, describes his experiences with his new “smart” TV. More sensors means more records being stored somewhere you might not have access to. Especially interesting when your device picks up every word you say:
“But the service comes with a rather ominous warning: ‘Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party.’ Got that? Don’t say personal or sensitive stuff in front of the TV.”
Public Perceptions of Privacy and Security in the Post-Snowden Era by Mary Madden. A great report from the Pew Research Internet Project. I don’t want to give away any of the juicy stats so head over and read the executive summary.
This Is What Happens When Scientists Go Surfing by Nate Hoppes. It’s not all privacy talk this week. This is a fun article exploring how new sensors and systems are being used to monitor surfers as they train and practice.
How Private Data is Helping Cities Build Better Bike Routes by Shaun Courtney. We covered the new wave of personal data systems and tools feeding data back into public institutions a bit before. Interesting to hear that more cities are investing in understanding their citizens through the data they’re already collecting.
What Do Metrics Want? How Quantification Prescribes Social Interaction on Facebook by Benjamin Grosser. Ben is most commonly known around the QS community as the man behind the Facebook Demetricator, a tool to strip numbers from the Facebook user interface. In this article, published in Computational Culture, he lays out an interesting argument for how Facebook has created a system in which the users, “reimagine both self and friendship in quantitative terms, and situates them within a graphopticon, a self-induced audit of metricated social performance where the many watch the metrics of the many.”
The Cubicle Gym by Gregory Ferenstein. Gregory was overweight, overworked, and in pain. He started a series of experiments to improve his help, productivity, and wellbeing. I enjoyed his mention of using the Quantified Mind website to track cognition. If you find his experience interesting make sure to read a previous piece where he explains what happened when he replaced coffee with exercise.
Maximizing Sleep with Plotly and Sleep Cycle by Instructables user make_it_or_leave_it. A really nice step by step process and example here of graphing an making sense of Sleep Cycle data.
Toilet Matters by Chris Speed. A super interesting post on what a family was able to learn by having access to data on of all things, the amount of toilet paper left on a roll and when it was being used. Don’t forget to read all the way to end so you can get to gems like this:
“[…]the important note is that the source of this data is not only personal to me, it is also owned by me. We built the toilet roll holder and I own the data. There are very few products or smart phone apps that I can say the same about. Usually I find myself agreeing to all manner of data agreements in order to get the ‘free’ software that is on offer. The toilet roll holder is then my first experience of producing data that I own and that I have the potential to begin to trade with.“
E-Traces by Lesia Trubat. A beautiful and fun project by recently graduated design student, Lesia Trubat. Using adruinos and sensors places on the shoes of dances she was able to create unique visualizations of dance movement. Be sure to watch the video here.
Animated Abstractions of Human Data by James E. Pricer. James is an artist working on exposing self-collected data in new and interesting ways. Click through to see a dozen videos based on different types of data. The image above is a capture from a video based on genotypes derived from a 23anMe dataset.
The Great Wave of Kanagawa by Manuel Lima. Although this is an essay I’m placing it here in the visualization section because of it’s importance for those working on the design and delivery of data visualizations. Manuel uses the Great Wave off Kanagawa as a wonderful metaphor for designing how we visually experience data.
D3 Deconstructor by UC Berkeley VisLab. A really neat tool here for extracting and repurposing the data powering at D3.js based visualization.
We had a lot of fun putting together this week’s list. Enjoy!
A Spreadsheet Way of Knowledge by Steven Levy. A few weeks ago we noted that it was the 35th anniversary of the digital spreadsheet. Steven Levy noticed too and dug up this piece he wrote for Harpers in 1984. If you read nothing else today, read this. First, because we should know where our tools come from, their history and inventors. And second, but not last nor least, because it has wonderful quotes like this:
“The spreadsheet is a tool, and it is also a world view — reality by the numbers.”
The Ethics of Experimenting on Yourself by Amy Dockser Markus. With new companies cropping up to help individuals collect and share their personal data there has been an increased interest in citizen science. A short piece here at the Wall Street Journal lays the groundwork for what may become a contentious debate between the old vanguards of the scientific institution and the companies and citizens pushing the envelope. (The article is behind a paywall, but we’ve archived it here.)
Better All The Time by James Surowiecki. I started reading this thinking it would be another good piece about the digitization of sport performance and training, and it was, but only partly. What begins with sports turns into a fascinating look at how we are succeeding, and in some cases failing, to improve.
Article 29 Data Protection Working Party: Opinion 8/2014 on the Recent Developments on the Internet of Things. Do not let the obscure boring title fool you, this is an important document, especially if you’re interested in personal data, data privacy, and data protection rights. Most interesting to me was the summary of six challenges facing IoT data privacy and protection. I’m also left wondering if other countries may follow the precedents possibly set by this EU Working Party.
30 Little-Known Features of the Health and Fitness Apps You Use Every Day by Ash Read / AddApp. Our friends at AddApp.io put together a great list of neat things you may or may not know you can do with various health and fitness apps.
Man Uses Twitter to Augment his Damaged Memory by John Paul Tiltow. Wonderful piece here about Thomas Dixon, who uses Twitter to help document his life after suffering a traumatic brain injury that severely diminished his episodic memory. What makes it more interesting is that it’s not just a journal, but also a source of inspiration for personal data analysis:
”Sometimes if I have like an hour, I’ll be like ‘How’s the last week been?’“ Dixon says. ”I’ll look at the past week and I’ll go, ‘Oh, okay. I really do want to get a run in.’ So I will use it to influence certain decisions.”
Patients and Data – Changing roles and relationships by David Gilbert and Mark Doughty. Another nice article about the ever-changing landscape that is the patient/provide/insurer ecosystem.
The Quantified Anatomy of a Paper by Mohammed AlQuaraishi. Mohammed is a Systems Biology Fellow at Harvard Medical School, and he’s an avid self-tracker. In this post he lays out what he’s learned through tracking the life of a successful project, a journal publication (read it here), and how he’s applying what he learned to another project.
Calories In, Calories Out by (author unknown). A fascinating post about modeling weight reduction over time and testing to see if said model actually matches up with recorded weight. Not all math and formulas here though,
“I learned several interesting things from this experiment. I learned that it is really hard to accurately measure calories consumed, even if you are trying. (Look at the box and think about this the next time you pour a bowl of cereal, for example.) I learned that a chicken thigh loses over 40% of its weight from grilling. And I learned that, somewhat sadly, mathematical curiosity can be an even greater motivation than self-interest in personal health.”
Fitness Tracker on a Cat – Java’s Story by Pearce H. Delphin. A delightful post here about tracking and learning about a cat’s behavior by making it wear at Fitbit. Who said QS has to be serious all the time?!
100 Days of Quantified Self by Matt Yancey. Matt downloaded his Fitbit Flex data using our data export how-to then set out analyzing and visualizing the data. Make sure to click through for the full visualization.
IAMI by Ligoranoreese. If you’re in San Francisco consider stoping by the Catherine Clark Gallery for this interesting exhibit. The duo, Ligoranoreese, created woven fiber optic artwork based on Fitbit data.
From the Forum
Anyone have a good way to aggregate and visualize data?
Questions about personal health tracking
Call for Papers: special issue of JBHI on Sensor Informatics
Sleep Tracking Device – BodyEcho
We’re back after missing last week (sorry!) with a bit longer list than usual. Enjoy!
Thoughts on Quantified Self for Modifying Long Term Life Goals by Mark Krynsky. Mark, a member of our QS Los Angeles meetup group, is consistently putting together interesting ideas in the QS space. In this short post he explore how QS tools might be used to understand long-term life goals.
Open Data for Open Lands by Alyssa Ravasio. The value of data isn’t confined to what we can understand about ourselves. There is so much beneficial information out there, especially when it comes to public data. In this post, Alyssa makes the case for protecting and promoting open data ideas and concepts regarding out most precious public spaces – the national parks system.
Art at the Edge of Tomorrow: Lillian Schwartz at Bell Labs by Jer Thorpe. A wonderful biographical piece about Lillian Schwartz, a pioneer in the field of computational art and exploration.
Terms of Service by Michael Kelller and Josh Neufeld. A reporter and nonfiction cartoonist team up to use a comic to tell us about the new world of data and privacy we currently inhabit. Interesting format and compelling content!
Narrative Camera by Morris Villarroel. Morris has been wearing a Narrative personal camera for six months. In this short post he explains what he’s learned and experienced over that time.
Where my 90 Hours of Mobile Screen Time in September Went by Bob Stanke. Bob used an app (Trackify) on his Android phone to track how much time he was spending on his phone and what apps he used the most.
Quitting Caffeine by Andrei-Adnan Ismail. Andrei wasn’t happy with his relationship with coffee and caffeine so he he decide to try and quit. Using tracking and really interesting use of “sprints” to gradually reduce his consumption, Andrei was able to quit. Great post here describing his process and the data he gathered along the way (including how his change affected his sleep).
Twitter Pop-up Analytics by Myles Harrison. Myles takes us through the process of downloading, visualizing, and analyzing personal data from Twitter.
Seven Months of Sleep by Eric Boam. A bit of an old one here, but beautiful and informative nonetheless. Make sure to read the accompanying piece by Eric. (I’m also looking forward to seeing more about this dataviz of his Reporter app data soon.)
My latest effort to visualize my calorie intake and weight loss by reddit user bozackDK. Using data collected from MyFitness pal, bozackDK has created this great visualization of his data. I asked what was learned from making this graph and received this wonderful response:
“I make graphs like these to keep myself going. I need some kind of proof that I’m doing alright, in order to keep myself wanting to go on – and a graph showing that I can (somewhat) stay within my set limits, and at the same time showing that it actually works on my weight, is just perfect.”
Ernesto is out for this round, so I’m filling in. I hope you enjoy this week’s list of articles, show&tells and visualizations!
“Standing Up for American Innovation and Your Privacy in the Digital Age” by Senator Ron Wyden. Access to your personal data is something that we care about and has been a topic of conversation at QS meetups and conferences. During Portland’s recent TechFestNW, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden took a strong stance on the nature of the relationship of the user and his/her data by criticizing the “Third-Party doctrine”.
Digital Health State of the Industry by MobileHealthNews. In the hype-filled world of digital health, MobiHealthNews is one of the (few) sources we trust for business reports. Their latest quarterly roundup is very well done, as always.
Better Living Through Data by James Davenport. James has over four years of battery log data from three laptops. By looking at the data, he saw a view of his own computer usage as well as a glimpse of his laptop’s secret life in the middle of the night. If you want to keep logs of your laptop’s battery, you can use the same script.
Which Cities get the most sleep? by Stuart A. Thompson. We showed a visualization last week that used UP user data. This visualization is from the same dataset, but I couldn’t pass up showing it because the sleep/step pattern contrast between New York and Orlando is so interesting.
This Week on Quantifiedself.com
Cors Brinkman: Lifelog as Self-Portrait
Eric Boyd: Tracking My Daily Rhythm With a Nike FuelBand
Kevin Krejci: An Update on Tracking Parkinson’s Disease
Mark Drangsholt: Deciphering My Brain Fog
Mark Leavitt: Whipping up My Willpower
Want to receive the weekly What We Are Reading posts in your inbox? We’ve set up a simple newsletter just for you. Click here to subscribe. Do you have a self-tracking story, visualization, or interesting link you want to share? Submit it now!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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
- Do you exercise
- What you eat
- Sex partners
- Bio markers, biometrics
- Health history
- 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.
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:
Please join in the conversations, ask questions, share what you’ve learned, and come play with us!