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At our 2013 Quantified Self Global Conference we were excited to share a variety of beautiful and insightful data visualizations from our community. In the months leading up to the conference we asked attendees to send in their own personal data visualizations along with a short description. In our 6 years of hosting Quantified Self meetups and events, as well as running this website, our forum, and social channels, we’ve seen the power of data visualization as a story telling medium. We exist in part to help people tell their stories – about the data they collect, the changes they create, and the insights and new knowledge they’re excited to share.
Today we’re sharing a few of our favorite visualizations from past conferences. The images and descriptions below represent a wide a variety of tracking experiences and techniques, and we hope to showcase eve more unique personal data projects at our upcoming QS15 Conference & Exposition.
Tracking Sleep by Anita Lillie
This is concatenation of screenshots from my sleep app. Most sleep apps don’t let you zoom out like this and still see daily/nightly detail, so I just made it myself. I like that it shows how almost-consistent I am with my sleep, and made me ask new questions about the “shape” of a night of sleep for me.
2.5 Years of My Weight by Mette Dyhrberg
I gained a lot of insights from this heat map. The most obvious weight gain was no surprise — that’s when I periodically don’t track. In any case, the big picture patterns are easily identified with a heat map. Realized looking at this heat map that the point of no return was mid-April 2012 — my data shows that was when I switched protein shakes with an egg based breakfast. I have since experimented and seen that protein shake in the morning seems to keep my blood sugar more stable and as a result my weight under control!
One Month of Blood Sugar by Doug Kanter
This is a visualization of one month of my blood sugar readings from October 2012. I see that my control was generally good, with high blood sugars happening most often around midnight (at the top of the circle).
Tracking Productivity by Nick Winter
My percentile feedback graph of my development productivity helps my motivation.
Six Months of My Life by David El Achkar
This is my life during the past six months. Each square = 15 minutes. Each column = 1 day. This picture represents 138 days or 3,000+ activities.
My Thesis Self Portrait by Sara M. Watson
Here’s a period of a few days of webcam images taken using Stan James’ LifeSlice during the final days of editing my thesis on Quantified Self uses of personal data. Serious business!
Sleep and Meaningful Work by Robby Macdonell
In an average work day, I don’t consider communication (email, instant message, etc) to be terribly meaningful work. I’d much rather be working on building software. Getting more sleep the night before increases the amount of meaningful work I’m likely to do in a day.
70 Days of Pulse by Laurie Frick
Pulse rate over 24 hours for 70 days from my Basis watch. Grey=null, blues=85
Like anyone who has ever been bombarded with magazine headlines in a grocery store checkout line, Kouris Kalligas had a few assumptions about how to reduce his weight and improve his sleep. Instead of taking someone’s word for it, he looked to his own data to see if these assumptions were true. After building up months of data from his wireless scale, diet tracking application, activity tracking devices, and sleep app he spent time inputing that data into Excel to find out if there were any significant correlations. What he found out was surprising and eye-opening.
This video is a great example of ouse expert user-driven program at our Quantified Self Conferences. If you’re interest in tell your own self-tracking story, or want to hear real examples of how people use data in their lives we invite you to register for the QS15 Conference & Exposition.
As the summer begins to close, QS groups are getting together all over to talk and share their experiences. During this next week, there are 8 groups getting together in four different countries. To see when the next meetup in your area is, check the full list of the over 100 QS meetup groups in the right sidebar. Don’t see one near you? Why not start your own!
Monday (September 15)
This meetup will feature fascinating talks on baby measurements and turning tracking data into art.
Tuesday (September 16)
All of the talks at this meetup will have a sports theme.
Wednesday (September 17)
The Cincinnati group will host a couple of great guest speakers who will talk about heart rate variability and wearable application development.
Raleigh, North Carolina
A nice, low-key meetup for the group in Raleigh.
Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas
A group of trackers in the North Texas area will be getting together to talk about their self-tracking.
Thursday (September 18)
This should be an intriguing meetup with talks on pH values, measuring physical load, and QS in health care.
Reno is a brand new group and this meetup should be an auspicious start.
The Manchester group will be getting together for a splendid conversation about QS.
Before we get to this week’s list we want to make sure you know about our recent conference announcement. This week we announced our QS15 Conference & Exposition. This will be our seventh conference and is sure to be an amazing event. We invite you to register today!
Now on with the good stuff!
Why Big Data Won’t Cure Us by Gina Neff. A great research paper in the aptly name journal, Big Data. Dr. Neff specifically focuses on the perils of assuming “all the data” will solve the numerous health healthcare problems and then lays out five elements to consider as data, big and small, becomes part of our healthcare experience.
More Than Meets the Eye: NASA Scientists Listen to Data by Kasha Patel. Apparently the scientists studying the sun have so much data to sift through that listening to signals is a valuable alternative to visualizing it. (via our friend Joost Plattel)
Quantified Dating, Relationships, and Sex by Kitty Ireland. A great series of three posts by Kitty that explores a variety of examples of using self-tracking in the most intimate of situations – dating, long-term relationships, and sex.
A Look Back At the Evolution of Wearable Tech. In the wake of the recent Apple Watch announcement I love being able to look back at the history of different how technology has made inroads into our lives.
The Baby Measureur by Erich Morisse. Erich is a proud father of a new child and like any new dad with data skills he started tracking some important metrics such as feeding time, feeding duration, and of course diaper changing!
A Day at Burning Man, Visualized Through Health Tracker Data by Gregory Ferenstein. Gregory takes his Basis Band to Burning Man and shows us what he learned.
My Most Intimate Self Portrait by Scott Ogle. Scott has a wonderful post here about a visualization of his almost 30,000 text messages.
If I look closely, I can see a new job, vacations and a death in the data. I can even see where I moved past it all and stopped feeling the need to communicate so much. It may just be text messages, but it all correlates to things that are really real.
And all of it is captured in this graph.
9 Days in Amsterdam – Tracking my Mobility in Bicycle Wonderland by Patrick Stotz. Patrick traveled to Amsterdam and tracked his stay using OpenPaths. I especially enjoyed how he was able to segment his means of transportation. If you’re interested in maps I suggest take a look at his great checklist for making geodata visualizations and this list of geodata tools.
What Time of Day Do People Run by Data @ Runkeeper. As a runner I can’t get enough of these visualizations and data analyses.
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 March 13-15 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!
In response to the much anticipated reveal of the Apple Watch I did a bit of digging around to find out where we stand with wrist-worn wearable devices. I found over 60 different devices. The following list focuses on self-tracking tools, I intentionally left out those that work only as notification centers or secondary displays for your phone. I’m sure this isn’t all of them, but it’s as good a place to start as any. If you’re using one of these devices to learn something about yourself, or you’re just interested in these type of wearable tools we invite you to join us in San Francisco on March 13-15, 2015, for our QS15 Conference & Exposition.
(Thank you to all those who commented here, on Twitter, and on our Facebook group pointing us to additional devices to add!)
Sensors: Accelerometer, Heart Rate (optical), Blood Oxygen, Temperature
Sensors: Accelerometer, Pulse Oximeter, Temperature
Sensors: Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Heart Rate (optical)
Sensors: Materials state the ZenWatch houses a “bio sensors and 9-axis sensor.” I assume optical heart rate, accelerometer, and gyroscope.
Sensors: Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Heart Rate (optical)
Sensors: Accelerometer, Temperature, Pressure
Epson Pulsense Band/Watch
Sensors: Accelerometer, Heart Rate (optical)
Fatigue Science Readiband
Seven years ago, about 30 people gathered for the first Quantified Self show&tell in Pacifica, California. Today there are more than 110 independent Quantified Self groups in more than 30 countries around the world. (Our Bay Area group alone has nearly 4000 members.) Nearly everywhere you go you can find people counting their steps, recording their meals, tracking their location, and using data to learn about themselves.
We believe there is still much work ahead, but in celebration of the growth of the QS movement, and in honor of the pioneering self-trackers and toolmakers who have contributed so much to the QS community, we’ve decided to hold a very special event next year. To our regular two-day global conference we are adding a third day for a GRAND PUBLIC EXPOSITION in San Francisco’s most beautiful waterfront pavilion, where toolmakers, artists, designers, pioneering self-trackers will be sharing their amazing work with the general public.
On Friday and Saturday, March 13/14, we’ll have our QS global conference, with working sessions, show&tell talks, office hours, and face-to-face collaboration, all handcrafted out of personal interaction with registrants. And then, on Sunday March 15, we open the doors of the Herbst Festival Pavilion to the general public, so that self-trackers and toolmakers can share their projects and knowledge with everybody.
If you are a self-tracker, advanced user, designer, tech inventor, entrepreneur, journalist, scientist, health professional, or just interested in Quantified Self, please join us for a weekend of learning, collaboration and inspiration. As always, conference registrations will sell out in advance, so please sign up right away if you intend to come.
Our small QS Labs team has been working for more than year to bring a Conference and Exposition to the San Francisco waterfront, and we couldn’t be happier to finally be able to invite you. Let us know what you think. We hope to see you there!
There will be five Quantified Self groups on two continents getting together this week. To see when the next meetup in your area is, check the full list of the over 100 QS meetup groups in the right sidebar. Don’t see one near you? Why not start your own!
Tuesday (September 9)
The Lansing group will be meeting for a conversation about Quantified Self.
Wednesday (September 10)
This is the second meetup for this new Swiss group. If you are in the area, check it out!
The thoroughly excellent Pittsburgh group will be getting together once again for a set of Show&Tell talks.
Thursday (September 11)
The Portland group will be convening for a joint-work session to make progress on their self-tracking projects.
Sunday (September 14)
The Seattle group will be getting together for a happy hour and talk about all things self-tracking.
We hope you enjoy this week’s list!
Are Google making money from your exercise data?: Exercise activity as digital labour by Christopher Till. Christopher describes his recent paper, Exercise as Labour: Quantified Self and the Transformation of Exercise into Labour, which lays out a compelling argument for considering what happens when all of our exercise and activity data become comparable. Are we destined to become laborers producing an expanding commercialization of our physical activities and the data they produce?
How Big is the Human Genome? by Reid J. Robinson. Prompted by a recent conversation at QS Labs, I went looking for information about the size of the human genome. This post was one of the most clear descriptions I was able to find.
Visualizing Summer Travels by Geoff Boeing. A mix of Show&Tell and visualization here. Geoff is a graduate student and as part of his current studies he’s exploring mapping and visualization techniques. If you’re interested in mapping your personal GPS data, especially OpenPaths data, Geoff has posted a variety of tutorials you can use.
Symptom Portraits by Virgil Wong. For 30 weeks Virgil met with patients and helped them turn their symptoms into piece of art work and data visualization.
Data Visualization Rules, 1915 by Ben Schmidt. In 1915, the US Bureau of the Census published a set of rules for graphic presentation. A great find by Ben here.
Someday, you will have a question about yourself that impels you to take a look at some of your own data. It may be data about your activity, your spending at the grocery store, what medicines you’ve taken, where you’ve driven your car. And when you go to access your data, to analyze it or share it with somebody who can help you think about it, you’ll discover…
Now is the time to work hard to insure that the data we collect about ourselves using any kind of commercial, noncommercial, medical, or social service ought to be accessible to ourselves, as well as to our families, caregivers, and collaborators, in common formats using convenient protocols. In service to this aim, we’ve decided to work on a campaign for access, dedicated to helping people who are seeking access to their data by telling their stories and organizing in their support. Although QS Labs is a very small organization, we hope that our contribution, combined with the work of many others, will eventually make data access an acknowledged right.
The inspiration for this work comes from the pioneering self-trackers and access advocates who joined us last April in San Diego for a “QS Public Health Symposium.” Thanks to funding support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and program support from the US Department of Health And Human Services, Office of the CTO, and The Qualcomm Institute at Calit2, we convened 100 researchers, QS toolmakers, policy makers, and science leaders to discuss how to improve access to self-collected data for personal and public benefit. During our year-long investigation leading up to the meeting, we learned to see the connection between data access and public health research in a new light.
If yesterday’s research subjects were production factors in a scientist’s workshop; and if today’s participants are – ideally – fully informed volunteers with interests worthy of protection; then, the spread of self-tracking tools and practices opens the possibility of a new type of relationship in which research participants contribute valuable craft knowledge, vital personal questions, and intellectual leadership along with their data.
We have shared our lessons from this symposium in a full, in-depth report from the symposium, including links to videos of all the talks, and a list of attendees. We hope you find it useful. In particular, we hope you will share your own access story. Have you tried to use your personal data for personal reasons and faced access barriers? We want to hear about it.
You can tweet using the hashtag #qsaccess, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or post to your own blog and send us a link. We want to hear from you.
The key finding in our report is that the solution to access to self-collected data for personal and public benefit hinges on individual access to our own data. The ability to download, copy, transfer, and store our own data allows us to initiate collaboration with peers, caregivers, and researchers on a voluntary and equitable basis. We recognize that access means more than merely “having a copy” of our data. Skills, resources, and access to knowledge are also important. But without individual access, we can’t even begin. Let’s get started now.
An extract from the QSPH symposium report:
[A]ccess means more than simply being able to acquire a copy of relevant data sets. The purpose of access to data is to learn. When researchers and self-trackers think about self-collected data, they interpret access to mean “Can the data be used in my own context?” Self-collected data will change public health research because it ties science to the personal context in which the data originates. Public health research will change self-tracking practices by connecting personal questions to civic concerns and by offering novel techniques of analysis and understanding. Researchers using self-collected data, and self-trackers collaborating with researchers, are engaged in a new kind of skillful practice that blurs the line between scientists and participants… and improving access to self-collected data for personal and public benefit means broadly advancing this practice.