Tag Archives: show&tell
I think I spent more time flailing than planning in college. Though I’m not sure, because I don’t have the data. Tiffany Qi does, though. During her four years of undergrad, she meticulously tracked her time, putting it in one of several categories, “planning” being one of them. Now that she has her degree in Business Administration, she spent some time analyzing the wealth of data she collected as an undergrad. For this talk, given at the a Quantified Self meetup last month in Berkeley, California, she focused on the relationship (or lack thereof) between how she spent her time and her academic performance.
In particular, she explored the following questions:
- Did her commitment to her studies wane over time?
- How much did time spent studying matter for her final grade?
- Did the amount of time spent on fun help or hinder her grades?
- Did having a job or other job-like responsibilities lower her grades?
-CalenTools (Tiffany’s custom tool that she made for this project)
Get your tickets for QS17
Our next conference is June 17-18 in lovely Amsterdam. It’s a perfect event for seeing the latest self-experiments, debating the most interesting topics in personal data, and meeting the most fascinating people in the Quantified Self community. There are only a few early-bird discount tickets left. We can’t wait to see you there.
“The heartbeat is a treasure chest of information…”
Mark Leavitt has a unique perspective in that he is both an engineer and a physician. In his retirement, he is applying his wealth of knowledge to keeping himself healthy.
In this talk, Mark looks at how heart rate variability relates to his willpower. Does he lift more weight when his HRV is high? What happens to his eating habits when his HRV is low? And if the term “heart rate variability” is new to you, Mark gives a lucid explanation.
Also, you will get a glimpse of his amazing customized workstation with pedals to keep him active, a split keyboard on the armrests to keep his knees free and built-in copper strips for measuring HRV. Cue envy.
As an English teacher Kyrill Potapov spends a lot of time working with 12 year old kids who are trying to improve their reading, writing, comprehension, and analytical skills. In this talk, he explores a remarkable method of speed reading, called Spritz, that promises to let you “read Harry Potter in three hours” with full understanding and recall. Could such a promise possibly be true? And, if the claim is true, another question arises. Is such a pace desirable and useful, or rather something quite alien to the activity of reading?
With his students, Kyrill decided to resolve these questions empirically, reading the same material in a book, on a screen using conventional scrolling, and on a screen using the novel method of Spritz, which displays words one at a time at a pace determined by the reader. They found high comprehension at the high speeds permitted by Spritz, but with some cost, which he outlines in this wonderfully clear and interesting talk.
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.
Enjoy this week’s list!
When ‘Special Measures’ Become Ordinary by David Beer. What does it mean to have measurement, personal and institutional, as part of our everyday experience? A nice article that begins to expose what it means to operate in this new world.
Building smarter wearables for healthcare, Part 1: Examining how healthcare can benefit from wearables and cognitive computing by Robi Sen. In this article, Robi Sen describes what IBM sees as the “analytics gap” in current wearable technology. Specifically, that devices and the data they present don’t fully understand and utilize contextual information, and therefore are not providing meaningful information. What’s the answer? IBM’s Watson, of course.
Doping scandals, open data, and the emergence of the quantified athlete by Glyn Moody. A short and interesting piece that wonders if opening up athlete performance data might be a useful part of combating doping and illegal performance enhancement in professional athletics.
N of 1 Trials and Personal Health Data with Dr. Nicholas Schork. The Health Data Exploration Network hosted their inaugural webinar this past Friday. The focus was on N of 1 trials: why they’re important, how to conduct them, and the role of Quantified Self and self-tracking data.
Lifelog: Pilot Tasks of NTCIR–12. Our good friend and lifelogging researcher, Cathal Gurrin, is spearheading an innovative project to improve search and information access to lifelogging and self-tracking data. If you’re a researcher or information systems specialist you may want to take a look at data and see if you can help push the field forward!
Sleepwalking. Rather than point to one post over another we’re going to highlight this entire blog by one anonymous scientist who’s exploring his sleepwalking. The whole blog is chock full of insights into measurements, devices, and experiments to see what may or may not affect their sleepwalking. Start here to get a good overview.
How I Hacked Amazon’s $5 WiFi Button to track Baby Data by Ted Benson. Have $5 to spend on an Amazon Dash button? With a little bit of programming you can turn it into your own DIY internet-connected tracker!
10,000 Steps at a Music Festival by Tim Hanrahan. A fun post about tracking physical activity at the Lollapalooza festival.
Basis Data Analysis by Victor Jolissaint. I saw this Victor tweet this visualization and was immediately drawn in. Turns out he’s been exploring ways to analyze and understand his Basis watch data using R. Check out the link for his code and take a crack at analyzing your own data!
Tableau: Helping Me See and Understand Myselfb y Craig Bloodworth. Craig pulled all his self-tracking data into Tableau and designed his own personal dashboard to better understand what was going on with his activity, personal finances, and other lifestyle information.
A long list for this week’s What We’re Reading. I actually had to stop myself from adding in even more visualizations and show&tell examples! We’re always on the lookout for more though, so make sure tweet us your favorite links!
Fitted by Moira Weigel. A very thoughtful essay on gender, identity, and confession – all while using the Fitbit as the narrative backdrop.
What kind of love does the FitBit prepare us to feel? Is it self-love? Or is even the self of the exorexic a kind of body armor?
How to Build a Smart Home Sensor by Dave Prochnow. If you have 2 hours, $95, and know how to solder, then you too can build this DIY sensor to measure the temperature, humidity, light, and noise for any room in your home. If someone builds and tests this please let me know (Would love to see air quality sensors included too!)
It’s Hard to Count Calories, Even for Researchers by Margot Sanger-Katz. New research shows Americans are eating less, but can we really trust the data? Margot does an excellent job here of rounding up the various ways we measure food consumption in the United States while coming to a commonly heard conclusion – food tracking is just plain hard.
Hadley Wickham, the Man Who Revolutionized R by Dan Kopf. If you’re knee deep in data analysis, or just like poking around in stats software, you’ve probably heard of and used R. And if you’ve used R, then there is a good chance you’ve used many of the packages written by Hadley Wickham. Great read, if for nothing else you learn what the “gg” in ggplot2 stands for.
Heart patient: Apple Watch got me in and out of hospital fast by Neil Versel. When Ken Robson wasn’t feeling well he turned to his Apple Watch. After noticing lower than normal heart rate readings his checked himself into the emergency room and soon found out his hunch was right, he had sick sinus syndrome.
New Australian experiment rewards joggers with 3D printed chocolate treats based on exercise data by Simon Cosimo. Sign me up!
How Does Giving Blood Affect Your Iron Levels? by Ryan W. Cohen. Simple and to the point blog post by Ryan explaining how he discovered elevated iron levels in his blood, and the simple test he tried to find out why.
The Quantified Athlete by Matt Paré. Matt is a minor league catcher in the San Francisco Giants organization. In this post, the second in a series (read Part 1 here), Matt discusses how he became interested in tracking his biomarkers, and what he’s experimenting with.
What I Learned When I Stopped Wearing a Fitbit After Seven Years by Michael Wood. Michael writes up a brief post on how he felt when he was separated from his Fitbit activity tracker.
How I tracked my house movements using iBeacons by Joe Johnston. Joe uses a few iBeacons to find out where he spend time in his house. Fascinating idea, makes me want to play with this technology as well!
Visualizing a Simpler RunKeeper Training Plan by Andy Kriebel. Andy presented his running data, and how he uses a few tools to keep track and visualize his data as he trains for a marathon. Follow the link and you can see his Tableu workbook, which includes a screencast of his presentation, and links to his workflow.
I decided to take a peek at my Netflix viewing data by Reddit user AmericanPicker69. This enterprising individual decided to take a peak into his user account to understand his Netflix viewing habits. Turns our a simple copy/past is all you need to do to get the raw data. Who knew?!
My weight loss journey by Reddit user IMovedYourCheese. Loved this graph and the implementation of BMI categories, a moving average, and lower/upper bounds for weight loss. He even provided the excel template if you’d like to use it with your own weight tracking.
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.
After a few weeks of we’re back for another round of What We’re Reading. As you may know, we just wrapped on amazing three day conference and expo in San Francisco. Thank you to all that came, participated, and helped make QS15 such a wonderful experience!
Couldn’t make it to QS15? You’re in luck! We just announced our fourth Quantified Self Europe Conference. Join us in Amsterdam for an intimate and engaging event. You don’t want to miss it! Early bird tickets are on sale now.
Now, on with the show!
We’ve started to see a few great blog posts and articles describing the experience of attending the QS15 Conference and Expo. For the next few weeks we’ll be highlight a few here.
Quantified Self ’15 Day 1 Recap by Tim Hanrahan
Quantified Self Expo, Part 1 by Karl Etzel.
What you can learn from the 2015 Quantified-Self Conference by Guillaume Tourneur
What I learned at Quantified Self 2015 by Richard Sprague
Is Direct Access to Lab Results Helpful or Harmful? by Patricia Salber. Patricia updates a post, first written in 2011, about the pros and cons associated with having direct access to medical testing and lab results.
Jaguar wants to monitor its drivers’ brainwaves, heart rate, and breathing by Jacob Kastrenakes. Sounds a bit far-fetched, and we may never see this research project in our cars, but I was intrigued by this:
But Jaguar says that it should be able to monitor for brainwaves through sensors embedded in the steering wheel. It’s apparently looking into adapting tech that’s already used by NASA to monitor pilots’ concentration.
Sounds interesting, but I’m also left I’m also left wondering if it will be worth measuring my concentration when the cars of the future will be driving themselves!
Google Reveals Health-Tracking Wristband by Caroline Chen and Brian Womack. Interesting to see that Google X is getting into the wearables game. Anyone know the difference between this device and other similar tools like Basis?
Biggest winner of the Finals? Rest! by Tom Haberstroh. What helped the Golden State Warriors have one of the best seasons in NBA history and capture the championship? Quantified Self of course!
They Warriors are as nerdy as it gets. As clients of wearable technology provider Catapult Sports, they monitor their players’ workloads in practice with GPS monitors and analyze the data with acute attention to maximizing performance while minimizing injury risk.
Sorry by Robin Weis. A fascinating and beautifully articulated exploration into apologies between Robin and her parter. (Note: This was first posted by Robin on our Quantified Self Facebook Group. Join us forfor some great conversation!)
How Tracking What I Do Every Day Helped Me Find Better Work-Life Balance by Melanie Pinola.
Most importantly, time tracking has helped me think more clearly about how I spend my time. I can see at a glance where I’m spending too much time in one area and not enough in others and also find patterns in my behavior.
Find Out How Much Less Sleep You’re Getting Than Everyone Else by Dave Johnson and Alexander Ho. Time and Withings paired up to create some great interactive visualizations on sleep.
Visualizing “Productivity” with Elasticsearch, Logstash and D3 by Ryan Brink. Ryan wanted to get “look into my life at the keyboard” so he decided to gather some data and use D3 to visualize it. Click for the graphs, stay for the in-depth how-to explanation.
What Makes People Happy? We Have the Data. by Sukrit Mohan. Jawbone takes a peak into their data to see what impacts mood. Above we see “a clear relationship between steps on the previous day and the mood of the user in the morning: better moods correlate with more steps.”
From the Forum
On June 18-20 we’ll be hosting the QS15 Conference & Activate Expo in San Francisco at the beautiful 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 Exposition. As we start to fill out our program we’ll be highlighting speakers, discussion leaders, sponsors, and attendees here.
We are excited to welcome Valerie Lanard as a presenter our upcoming QS Conference & Activate Expo. Like many in our community, Valerie has been tracking a variety of her health and fitness data and was pleased to find out “that there others like her” when she discovered the Quantified Self. Currently Valerie is working on Gigabody.com, a streaming fitness video service designed to help with regular exercise. She also has a keen interest in habits, health & fitness tracking, wearable devices, lifelogging.
At the QS15 Conference Valerie will be talking about her fascinating project to quit TV for thirty days. In August of 2014, Valerie committed to quitting TV and focused on how her environment and triggers reinforced a behavior she felt “locked into.” In her show&tell talk she will be sharing her process, what ended up replacing all her TV time, and lessons she learned about herself when she was able to break the habit.
We also spoke with Valerie about what she’s looking forward to at the conference and she mentioned she’s excited to see new tools and devices as well as the opportunity to meet new QS community members:
I cannot wait to see the new crop of devices and QS companies at the conference – I feel like a kid in a candy store every year. But I’m just as excited to talk about the latest health tracking APIs, and meet smart, like-minded folks from the community. Come say hi!
If you’re interested in meeting and learning from interesting and engaged people like Valerie then register now for the QS15 Conference & Expo.
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 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.