Tag Archives: QS15
In this talk, Randy Sargent shows how he used a spectrogram, a tool mostly used for audio, to better understand his own biometric data. A spectrogram was preferable to a line graph for its ability to visualize a large number of data points. As Randy points out, an eeg sensor can produce 100 million data points per day. It is unusual for a person to wear an eeg sensor for that long, but Randy used the spectrogram on his heart rate variability data that was captured during a night of sleep. In the video, you’ll see an interesting pattern that he discovered that occurs during his REM sleep.
“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.
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.
“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.
“That’s insane! I want to try it.”
Bethany Soule is the co-found of Beeminder, a commitment tool which she characterizes as “goal-tracking with teeth.” Her and Daniel Reeves, the other founder, have spoken on how they tracked the development of the tool and integrating it with other QS tools.
In this talk from QS15, Bethany tells of how she was inspired by Nick Winter’s “Maniac Week“, to focus solely on working for an entire week. She shares what she learned from doing this multiple times, from tools for reducing distractions to tracking accomplishments and ensuring accountability. You’ll also find out how many hours she was actually able to work.
Here is the time-lapse of Bethany’s Maniac Week, as well as, her blog post on the experience:
“I don’t have a concrete goal. I don’t have a concrete aim to advance myself. It’s a way to explore different aspects of my life through data.”
Since 2009 Jacek Smolicki has experimented with using personal data as a mode for artistic exploration. In this talk, he presents some of his practices:
To learn more about Jacek’s practices, explore his website. Check out other examples of self-tracking as artistic expression with talks from Laurie Frick and Alberto Frigo, and pieces from the art exhibition at the 2015 QS Conference in San Francisco.
In this fascinating short talk by geneticist Jim McCarter, we see detailed data about the effects of a ketogenic diet: lower blood pressure, better cholesterol numbers,and vastly improved daily well being. Jim also describes the mid-course adjustments he made to reduce side effects such as including muscle cramps and increased sensitivity to cold.
Jim begins: “When I tell my friends I’ve given up sugar and starch and get 80% of my calories from fat, the first question I get is: Why?”
The rest of the talk is his very clear answer.
We’re excited to share another round of personal data visualizations from our QS community. Below you’ll find another five visualizations of different types of personal data. Make sure to check out Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 as well!
Name: Damien Catani
Description: This is an overview of how I have been doing today against my daily habit targets. Yes, I had a good sleep!
Tools: I used a website I’ve been building for the purpose of setting and tracking all goals in life: goalmap.com
Name: Bethany Soule
Description: This is my pomodoro graph. I average four 45 minute pomodoros per day on my work, and I track them here. This is where most of my productivity occurs! There’s some give and take.
Tools: The graph is generated by Beeminder. I use a script I wrote to time my pomodoros and submit them to Beeminder when I complete them. The script also announces them in our developer chat room, so there’s also some public accountability there as well.
Name: Steven Zhang
Description: This plot shows the time I first go to sleep, against quality of day (a subjective metric I plot at the end of every day). What this tells me is that if I get a full night’s sleep of 8 hours, for every hour I got to bed, I can expect a .16 decrease in my QoD rating, which, given my range of QoD around 2 to 4, is about a 5% decrease in quality of day.
Tools: Sleep as Android to track sleep and some python scripts for ETL.
- Normal sleep
- 3. Trying to achieve normal sleep, but failing to
Tools: Tableau for visualization. Sleep as Android for logging sleep.
Name: Eric Jain
Description: Benford’s Law states that the most significant digits of numbers tend to follow a specific distribution, with “1″ being the most common digit, followed by “2″ etc. But my daily step counts show a slightly different distribution: The fall-off from “1″ to “2″ is larger than expected, and the frequency of digits larger than “5″ increases rather than decreases. Is this pattern typical for step counts? Could suspicious distributions be used to detect cheaters?
Tools: Fitbit, Zenobase, Tableau
Stay tuned here for more QS Gallery visualizations in the coming weeks. If you’ve learned something that you are willing to share from seeing your own data in a chart or a graph, please send it along. We’d love to see more!
In just little more than a month we’ll be convening in lovely Amsterdam for our 2015 Quantified Self Europe Conference. While some might call us crazy since we just wrapped on our big QS15 Conference in San Francisco, we like to think that we’re on a tour, inviting people from around to world to engage and learn about the power of personal data.
With QSEU15 so close, we decided to take a quick look back at what makes our conferences so special. Rather than telling you what we think we thought it would be best to highlight the thoughts and writing from individuals who attended and participated in our 2015 Quantified Self Conference. We’ve gathered up links to articles, blog posts, and write-ups of all types and are posting them here for you to read and review.
If you’re intrigued by the ideas and events described in the links below make sure to register for QSEU15. Early Bird tickets are on sale for just a bit longer so take advantage now!
If you wrote something about your experience at QS15 let us know! We’d love to feature it.
I have had the esteemed pleasure for the last couple of years of helping speakers at Quantified Self conferences put together their talks. It’s a lot of work for me, but more so for the speakers. At the QS15 Conference last month in San Francisco, I took the opportunity to not only express my appreciation for our speakers’ effort, but to also speak to why the act of sharing your own personal data experience is so important and has historical precedent.
Below is a video of the speech along with the prepared remarks:
My role at the conference is to help our speakers put together their show&tell talks. For every speaker, we have a forty-five minute discussion to go over their talk.
It’s a role I relish because I get to see the process that people go through to turn their personal experience into the form of 30 slides in 7 and a half minutes.
Unless you’ve given a show&tell talk, it’s hard to know the effort and difficulty inherent in presenting one’s story. There’s the doubt and questioning of why anyone would be interested in my personal experience. How do you decide what is the right amount of context to give people? How do you sequence the information so it is intelligible?
But if I may, I want to spend a moment to talk about this practice of self-examination, and why I think it is so special.
Something that came to mind while mulling this over is something Sarah Bakewell wrote in a book about Michel de Montaigne, the 16th century french philosopher.
“Montaigne and Shakespeare have each been held up as the first truly modern writers, capturing that distinctive modern sense of being unsure where you belong, who you are, and what you are expected to do.”
If you don’t know, Montaigne was famous for a series of philosophical essays written in the 1500’s.
What was special about his essays was how honest and self-reflective he was, if meandering and digressive. But this style was novel at the time. Montaigne’s philosophical inquiries were not expansive and universal. They were small. They were constrained to just himself.
What’s funny is that this sharing of one person’s self-examination was wildly popular. For next few centuries every generation saw itself in Montaigne. Picking out different aspects of him that resonate.
By limiting the scope of conveying an experience, the power to resonate with people is much stronger and wider than it would be if you strove to be universal.
What makes Show&Tells special is that they are personal. They are small, honest, and vulnerable. They are from individuals who are humbly trying to figure out who they are and what they should be doing.
I think we are all blessed by their graciousness and generosity in sharing their experiences, so that we can see ourselves in them and figure out how to navigate our own place in a huge, immensely interesting but very confounding world.