Topic Archives: QS17

Kyrill Potapov: Tracking Productivity for Personal Growth

Eddie_KyrilPotapov“Once one of Eddie’s leaves wilts, that’s it. A record of my failures right there among all the green leaves.”

In a show&tell talk that is as sweet as it is clever, Kyrill asks how his grandchildren might one day learn about him through digital family heirlooms and offers this unique project as an example.

Kyrill recently acquired his grandfather’s shaving razor and was struck by the connection he felt through the evidence of ownership: the darkened areas, worn edges and other traces of use.

Reflecting on his own mostly computer-based work, Kyrill noted how little of a physical trail he leaves in the world. Could his time and productivity data leave a mark on anything? Does he have a physical object, like his grandfather’s razor, that is indirectly shaped by his toil, besides a dirty keyboard?

Kyrill explored this idea by connecting the time-tracking service RescueTime to a light placed in a box with a house plant that he named Eddie. When he spends time on things he finds personally fulfilling, like working on his PhD, the light turns on and the plant grows. When he’s caught up in other activities, the leaves yellow and die.

The arrangement adds a new dimension to his productivity data. Every couple of days, Kyrill opens the box to water the plant. This ritual provides an opportunity to take stock on how he has been using his time, based on the condition of the plant. Embodied in this living organism is his failures to stay on task and focus on what’s important. Distractions take on a new threat. Rather than just endangering his goals, they now threaten the health of Eddie.

Although Kyrill won’t be able to leave a houseplant to his descendants, it’s a worthwhile meditation on how different modes of presenting personal data can have a profound difference in the way it engages one’s emotions.

You can watch Kyrill’s talk at his QS Project page. You can read about how Kyrill  connected RescueTime to a lamp here.

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Jakob Eg Larsen: Tracking Sleep and Resting Heart Rate

JakobLarsenRHRdata

Jakob Eg Larsen has tracked his sleep and resting heart rate (RHR) for the past four years. His 7 minute talk is far better watched than read about: it’s a great illustration of data validation, longitudinal tracking, and data assisted self-awareness.

Briefly, by tracking his RHR over a long period of time, Jakob has developed an intuition for connections between his RHR and physiological state. He’s able to use the data to tune his self-awareness, but still keep a safety net when unexpected RHR elevations might portend a flu. To boot, the years of data across the Fitbit Blaze, Oura ring and Basis are one of the most extensive within-individual comparisons I can find anywhere of these devices.

You can watch the full video of Jakob’s talk at his QS Project page.

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Cantor Soule-Reeves: Fight For Your Right to Recess

Cantor

It rains a lot in Portland, Oregon. And if you’re 8 years old like Cantor, recess gets cancelled a lot. But unlike most 8-year-olds, Cantor is doing something about that.

By tracking his steps, he’s able to show that every cancelled recess takes about 600 steps out of his day. Compared to his average of ~15,000 steps a day, it might not sound like a lot, but Cantor and his mom Bethany hope it might be enough to change his elementary school’s policy for rainy-day restrictions.

We don’t typically see young children doing serious self-tracking, especially with such an altruistic (and downright cool) aim of fighting for more recess time. We have our fingers crossed, both for the school’s response and for seeing more projects like Cantor’s in the future. Check out Cantor’s talk at QS Project page.

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QS17 Highlight: My Scars by Ellis Bartholomeus

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Ellis Bartholomeus gave a talk at QS17 that is a definite “must watch.”

We all accumulate physical scars throughout our lives. My own history consists of scrapes from trees, kitchen burns and a misadventure with liquid nitrogen. Ellis has taken a quantitative and thoughtful look at the form and meaning of her scars. At left, is a map of decades’ worth of Ellis’ scars. In her talk, she walks through that history and the way she turned it into data, which allowed novel findings, such as, if she added the lengths of her scars, the total is over a meter.

We often spend our time trying to appear and feel unworn by our years, covering them with clothing or makeup and ignoring the memories they represent. While Ellis embraces the past, she discusses the frustration associated with the limitations imposed by her injuries. Still, she uses her scars as a visual reminder to appreciate her own history and resilience.

You may watch the entire talk at her project’s page.

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QS17 Highlight: Taking on my Osteoporosis

Justin LawlerA persistent theme at the 2017 Quantified Self Conference was how self-tracking can help those with chronic conditions spot associations between symptoms and lifestyle that a clinician might not have time to uncover. These personal discoveries can help improve one’s health.

In this show&tell, Justin Lawler talks about learning that he has early onset osteoporosis and the several metrics, including diet, microbiome, exercise, sleep and bone density, he tracks to help manage and understand the disease.

I love that the talk emphasizes that many QS projects are long term – even lifelong. Most conventional research projects have a start and end date, garnering a lot of information but only addressing a limited window in time. The self awareness that comes with self tracking can be useful across months and years, elucidating subtle patterns that might otherwise be undetectable.

Watch Justin’s show&tell talk at it’s project page.

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QS17 Highlight: Body Temperature and Ovulatory Cycles

Azure TalkI was thrilled to have the chance to do a Show&Tell talk about tracking my ovulatory cycle via minute-by-minute body temperature during the final plenary session at QS17 Conference. It’s an ongoing project that explores what high-temporal-resolution body temperature can help us learn about our reproductive state. Daily body temperature readings are already used to aid fertility tracking, but several of you expressed interest in collecting more frequent data with me. You inspired me to start uploading my cycle tracking code on Github. I’ll be adding to this repository over time, so check back and shoot me a message if you have an idea you’d like me to try!

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QS17 Amsterdam Highlight: Tracking Crying

Robin_Weis_CrymotionWe’re back from QS17 and eager to share the conference with you from beginning to end. This, our ninth conference, covered a lot of ground: we showcased self-tracking projects, investigated our relationship with technology, and discussed the past and future of QS. Over the coming weeks, we’ll share some conference highlights.

Today I want to share our opening Show & Tell from Robin Weis, which captures the personal discovery and data-driven spirit of QS. If you’re new to QS, you might not know that the community is about much more than tracking your steps or your hours of sleep: it’s about gaining personal insight by putting numbers to any important aspect of your life. Robin Weis tracked an unusual metric – crying – over a long period of time and did an inspiring job tying together her personal story with her data. Click the link above, check it out, and come back in a few days for another talk!

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Stay Tuned for QS Conference Talks and Slides

QS17RegistrationWe’ve just returned from the latest Quantified Self Conference in Amsterdam and we’re working on the slides and videos of talks to share with everybody. It always takes a few weeks of work to get them ready for posting, so be patient.

If you are already nostalgic (or wishing you’d been there) you can check out some random highlights using the QS17 tag on Twitter. Official documentation coming soon!

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QS17 Program Updates

QS17 is here!

We can’t wait to see old friends and meet new people who have never been to a QS conference before. If you are reading this because you are attending QS17, you are in for something special. Our program is filled with engaging talks, fascinating discussions, and informative workshops. Here is a PDF of the printed program.

Here is a map of the venue to help you find your breakout discussion and workshop rooms:
Casa400map

Updates to the QS17 program

Our sessions come from our attendees and we try to leave the program open for as long as we can before we send it to the printer. Still, some things come in after the deadline and we can’t resist finding a spot for them. Below are new sessions that will be happening in addition to the printed program:

Saturday

Lunch (13:00-14:00)
Office Hours
GERO
Stanislav Leontenko, Nikolai Kovtunenko
Gero has developed a first digital biomarker of aging which can be measured by your physical activity gathered from your smartphone or wearable device. By using this tool, you can evaluate your personalized effect of healthy or unhealthy lifestyle. 
getgero.com

BLOODTESTERS
Azure Grant
Get your blood cholesterol tested! Lets’ talk about the value of this metric and what could be learned by having the ability to get a lipid profile in your home.

Session 3 (14:00-15:00)
Breakout Session
QS IN THE JUDICIAL CONTEXT (Harvard)
Liza Cornet
In what way could QS help with the understanding, prevention and intervention of offending behavior.

Sunday

Session 5 (10:30-11:30)
Show&Tell
DIABETES VIZ
Peter Kok
In this talk, I will show a custom web app that I’ve created that automatically collects data from continuous glucose monitor and with some novel visualizations, helps me manage my diabetes.

Lunch (13:00-14:00)
Office Hours
ACTITHINGS
Elke Beck
I’m a human-computer interaction researcher and I’m currently exploring how sensor-based self-tracking technologies can help older adults (65+ years) to reflect on their physical activity/ sedentary habits in daily life. I’ve developed several low-tech,  interactive prototypes which people can use for tracking and reflecting their physical activity behaviour.

BLOOD VALUE RESPONSES TO FOOD, FASTING, AND EXERCISE
Ben Best
I have been monitoring the way my blood glucose, ketone, and triglyceride respond to various foods by making hourly measurements 6 to 10 hours after eating the food. I practice a ketogenic diet, and often fast. Every few months I get very detailed laboratory blood tests.

BLOODTESTERS
Azure Grant
Get your blood cholesterol tested! Lets’ talk about the value of this metric and what could be learned by having the ability to get a lipid profile in your home.

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QS17 Preview: Externalizing Health Rewards

HausPlantKyrill

Kyrill Potapov: “I’ve been hacking Rescue Time, which tracks how I use my computer, to make it a tool for personal growth rather than work optimization.”

Feeling unpleasantly like he was “moving from one pressing issue to the next like a pinball”, Kyrill decided that he needed a way to track not just productivity, but satisfaction and growth. The standard approach would be to simply divide and assess how he spent his time: (some tasks are productive and satisfying; others are productive but menial). Instead, he decided to appeal to his altruism and devise a clever system to incentivize productive and satisfying behavior.

At QS17, Kyrill’s talk will explain how he uses the productivity output of Rescue Time to turn on a light bulb which is the primary energy source for “Pip”, his houseplant. This isn’t just cute – tying the health of another to one’s own behavior can be an extremely motivating force. My mom has told me that her pregnancy flipped a switch for her self-care, making her more aware of her own health behaviors and more able to adjust them. Obviously, having a baby isn’t a feasible strategy for inspiring behavioral change in general, but tying the life of a living *plant* to your behavior is a similar, (albeit low stakes) motivator. A healthy sense of pun-humor let’s Kyrill see his ‘personal growth’ and consistency over time.

Speaking of time for self care and growth, I’m about to take off backpacking for a few weeks. See you in Amsterdam!

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