Topic Archives: QS15
“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.
Kouris Kalligas, a long time participant and contributor at Quantified Self meetings, is the creator of the very easy to use data aggregation service AddApp. AddApp is an iPhone app that makes it simple to gain insights from data gathered on dozens of different devices. While running his startup, Kouris has also been doing ongoing self-tracking experiments. At QS Europe 2014, he gave an excellent show&tell talk about his sleep, diet, and exercise data. In the talk below, he discusses using mood data in combination with calendar data to reflect on the relationship between emotion, experience, and self-image.
It’s been an honor to have Beeminder founders Daniel Reeves and Bethany Soule participating in Quantified Self meetings, giving us a chance to watch the evolution of their very useful tool for setting and achieving personal goals. These days they are working on the forefront of device and service integration. In this talk Daniel gives a brief explanation of how to bring data into Beeminder with minimal hassle.
(Note Daniel’s generous shout-out to another great QS toolmaker, Rescue Time.)
Let’s start 2016 with a very interesting talk by Randy Sargent about how to visualize the very large data sets produced by some kinds of self-tracking. Randy’s idea about using spectrograms, normally used for audio signals, to create a portrait of your own time series data, is completely novel as far as I know. If you have tried something similar, please get in touch.
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.
I talked with Vinod Khosla over the summer about machine learning and the Quantified Self.
Khosla was a founder of Sun Microsystems and is one of Silicon Valley’s most experienced investors in Quantified Self companies. His portfolio includes AliveCor, Ginger.io, Jawbone, Misfit, Narrative, and many other toolmakers that people doing QS projects will recognize. In our conversation, I ask Vinod about the role machine learning can realistically play in QS practices.
Below are links to three papers Vinod mentions in the interview:
Beck, Andrew H., Ankur R. Sangoi, Samuel Leung, Robert J. Marinelli, Torsten O. Nielsen, Marc J. van de Vijver, Robert B. West, Matt van de Rijn, and Daphne Koller. “Systematic analysis of breast cancer morphology uncovers stromal features associated with survival.” Science translational medicine 3, no. 108 (2011): 108ra113-108ra113.
Ioannidis, John PA. Why Most Published Research Findings Are False. PLoS Med 2, no. 8 (2005)
Maggie Delano hit her head while helping a friend move. She was diagnosed with a concussion and, later, post-concussion syndrome. In order for her to heal, she had to give her brain a break from cognitively stimulating activities. In this show&tell talk, presented at the 2015 Quantified Self Conference, Maggie discusses how she tracked her progress toward recovery with Habit RPG (recently renamed Habitica) and improved her sleep with Sleepio.
To see great presentations like Maggie’s in person and get the chance to talk with the speakers, come to our Quantified Self Europe Conference on September 18 & 19. Our early-bird tickets (€149) expire in less than 24 hours, so get yours now!
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.