Topic Archives: QS18

Ilyse Magy: Know Thy Cycle, Know Thyself

Women are increasingly (albeit slowly) taking more control in work, politics, life and society. However, unfortunately, being a woman means one has to consistently work extra hard to understand and know her own body to stay in control, because, unfortunately according to the laws of many governments and society-at-large, her body isn’t truly hers.  At 2015 Quantified Self Conference & EXPO, Ilyse Magy presented a fabulous talk, Know Thy Cycle, Know Thyself, that focuses on her recent learnings of her body and menstrual cycle, inspired by a MUST READ book for every female: Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler.

Ilyse Magy talks about how the author, Toni Weschler took the mystery out of the menstrual cycle with her book. By tracking certain metrics daily, Ilyse learned why her body is doing what it’s doing and can then conduct her sexual and emotional activity accordingly.

Ilyse Magy presents Know Thy Cycle, Know Thyself at the 2015 Quantified Self Conference. @ilyseiris

Ilyse Magy presents Know Thy Cycle, Know Thyself at the 2015 Quantified Self Conference. @ilyseiris

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Tracking Our Senses: Elliot Hedman

Another thoughtful project that studies the human’s physiological response to music is one by Elliott Hedman who studied himself and others’ physiological measurements during a classical concert.

In addition to tracking himself and others with EDA sensors, Elliott also videotaped the sensors to track where in the music, people’s sensors were triggered and shifted. He learned that the transitions from loud to quiet or the reverse triggered everyone’s sympathetic nervous system. He learned that people may have a different reaction to familiar sounds, because when a xylophone was played, Hedman was the only one triggered. He assumes he was moved because he used to play the xylophone when he was a kid.

Elliot speaks to the benefits of being less quantitative and more qualitative when collecting data, and less “self-centric” and more “community-centric” when analyzing.

We hope you can join us to share your learnings from a project, or simply be inspired at this year’s Quantified Self 2018 Conference in Portland on September 22-23. We have only  a handful of discount tickets left. Register here.

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Using Freestyle Libre To See How Stress Effects My Blood Glucose Levels

Justin Lawler, the organizer of Quantified Self Dublin, has been doing some interesting self-studies about how various changes in his life affect his blood glucose levels. Blood glucose is typically tracked as part of diabetes care, and there are some excellent emerging tools for convenient tracking without doing finger stick tests. (Although these systems are not yet accessible everywhere without a doctor’s prescription, we’ve seen them more and more often in Quantified Self projects over the last few years.)

In a recent post, Justin outlined some of his latest projects and discoveries. Among the most interesting findings was the clear relation between psychological stress and blood glucose spikes. For instance, this chart that covers the time he was giving a talk at last year’s Quantified Self conference in Amsterdam.

“My worst data point by far,” Justin writes, is when I’ve been most stressed—giving a talk at the Quantified Self Europe Conference.” You can see his graph below, which shows his blood glucose spanning the time of his talk.

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For Justin’s full account, see his excellent Medium post: Continuous Glucose Monitoring — The First Four Weeks.

You can hear Justin talk about his work and learn more about how to track your own blood glucose levels at QS18: The Quantified Self Conference, which will be held on September 22/23 in Portland, Oregon. There are currently 10 tickets left at the early registration price ($325), so please sign up soon if you want to come.

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Tracking and The Brain: Joost Plattel

Joost Plattel studies chemistry and loves experiments. He discovered while running experiments on himself that the simple act of tracking had a profound affect on how his brain functions. In this talk, Fitting Mental ModelsJoost shares some of those discoveries.

During the last three years of tracking his food, activity, and productivity, Joost noticed his brain functioning differently. For example, when he is actively tracking his food, his brain retains what he ate all week. When he isn’t tracking, he doesn’t have the same recall.

Do you notice the same mental adaptation when tracking? Come share your experience with us at QS18 in Portland on September 22-23! Register here.

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Tracking Life: Mark Krynsky

Following Dana Greenfield’s post about her project Leaning Into Grief, it feels fitting to share Mark Krynsky‘s project that contemplates our own mortality digitally. How will our digital lives be archived after we die? (Spoil alert: we are all going to die).

Mark Krynsky started a blog about five years ago and began live-streaming. Having his data in various places online, he tried to aggregate his social data into a single timeline. He eventually wondered about the future of his data. What’s going to happen to it after he dies? Mark discusses digital preservation and how he created an action plan for his digital data after his death.

After presenting this talk in 2013, Mark has since launched a website specifically for this called Digital Legacy Management. The site provides information on managing personal digital data for many different aspects of one’s life, including some of the following topics:

  • Organize and backup personal data
  • Provide ways to share photos and videos privately with friends and loved ones
  • Protect identity and limit ability to be hacked
  • Backup social media account data
  • Setup and establish how you want your social media accounts treated when you die

We hope you can join us to share your learnings from a project, or simply be inspired at this year’s 2018 Quantified Self Conference in Portland on September 22-23. Register here.

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Tracking Grief: Dana Greenfield

As we’ve been thinking about mood lately–tracking it, nudging it and even reversing it, here’s a project that contemplates one experience that accumulates all moods – mourning. For anyone who has experienced grief and mourning, grab your tissues; and if you haven’t yet had the profound experience, grab a pen and take notes. I wish had this project in the back of my head when I lost my dad 11 years ago.

Dana Greenfield shared her beautiful project Leaning into Grief at a Quantified Self Conference in Amsterdam.  Dana’s project is a timeless tracking experience that inspires us to focus on the little things in life, because it is in those tiny details (as small as a Q-tip) where experience, relation, and life really show up and matter.

Dana Greenfield’s mom was a surgeon, professor, researcher, entrepreneur, blogger, tennis player, and a mentor to many medical students. Unexpectedly, she passed away in February, 2014.

Dana felt a need to hold on to what she was feeling and experiencing. When she came upon something that reminded her of her mother, she logged her thoughts and feelings using various tools (pen/paper, flickr, googlesheets). Her tracking became so specific and varied that she designed a tracking system to better understand her own grief and the role her mother continues to play in her life. Dana structured a logging form to identify multiple moods, because she found that with grieving, she could feel sad, nostalgic and also happy at the same time. She often found herself feeling what she called “warmed” which she identified meaning both “fond” and “grateful.”

With tracking her grief, Dana learns that her mother’s effect in her life continues to morph even after her death. By thinking and remembering her, Dana’s mother remains a big part of her life and continues to have a great impact. She says, “So far, each writing and logging is a reading enabling just a moment of interpersonal and intergenerational exchange that remains far more malleable, and full of potential, therefore, meaningful than the memorabilia on the shelf or in the spreadsheet.”

We hope you can join us to share your learnings from a project, or simply be inspired at this year’s 2018 Quantified Self Conference in Portland on September 22-23. Register here.

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Tracking Mood To Understand Others: Alan Greene

Many of us track our moods to gain insight into what we are feeling or going through. Dr. Alan Greene developed a way to use his mood to gain insight into what others are feeling or going through.

Alan calls it Reverse Mood Tracking and he uses it in his work as a pediatrician. Here’s how it works: Before entering an exam room, he pauses and takes note of his current mood. After walking through the door, he pauses again and notes whether his mood has changed. His hypothesis is that the change in mood reflects, at least in part, what his patients are feeling. For instance, he may enter and notice feeling more tired or overwhelmed.  The next step would be to check his hypothesis by making a probing statement or question to see if his perception was indeed accurate. In this case, he might ask, “Isn’t it exhausting to be a parent sometimes?” More often than not, the patient would respond in a way that affirmed that emotion.

This reverse mood tracking became part of Alan’s daily work as he visited patients, finding that he could refine this sense with practice, and credits it with increasing his empathy for his patients. (Go to 1:43 in the video for a heartwarming anecdote about how he started thinking about this idea after an interaction with a patient named Stephen.)

This isn’t tracking as we usually conceive it. There is no spreadsheet that contains his before and after mood states. What makes this a Quantified Self project is that it is “structured observation”. Alan has created conditions that allow him to observe himself in a structured way that makes it more likely for him to gain insight about himself and the world around him.

As we relate this project to our own lives, it is an interesting exercise to consider what potential triggers we have in our day for mood shifts: getting into a car, opening the door of an office space, or simply closing the door after putting our children to bed. How do these acts or changes in location affect the way that we feel, and what could be the reason for it?

Dr. Greene’s project is a nice reminder of what can be learned through small observations that lead to running hypotheses that are continuously tested.

We hope you can join us to share your learnings from a project, or simply be inspired at this year’s Quantified Self 2018 Conference in Portland on September 22-23. Register here.

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Beeminder Scholar at QS18

As we gear up for QS18, we understand that the cost of a conference ticket can be challenging for scholars. So, for students who really want to attend, but don’t have the cash–this post is for you.

Our good friends and QS18 Exhibitor, Beeminder, wants to offer five lucky students a chance to attend the conference for free. We’ve covered Beeminder multiple times here on our blog and many QSers use Beeminder daily. Beeminder is a Quantified Self tool with a twist: It graphs your progress towards a goal, but if you don’t keep all your datapoints on track, you (literally) pay the price.

What do you need to do to be a QS18 Beeminder Scholar? Send us an email: labs@quantifiedself.com and cc: Daniel Reeves: dreeves@beeminder.com. Tell us what kind of things you track, perhaps a project you would like to present, and what school you attend. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Tracking Mood: Jon Cousins

When talking about tracking mood and happiness at Quantified Self, we have to mention Jon Cousins, an active QS member and long-time mood tracker. In 2010, Jon created Moodscope to track is own mood, and left in 2013 to begin Moodnudges, where he writes short messages to help nudge one’s mood in a positive direction. He released a book on the topic called Nudge Your Way to Happiness.

Jon presented his more recent self-tracking project, Words for Mood Measurement, at the Bay Area Quantified Self meetup on April 19, 2016.  Jon shares his experiments with Word Stem Completion tasks to better understand his mood.

The tests work like this: You are given the first part of a word and asked to complete it. For instance, if the stem is “ang__”, you might complete the word as “angle”. But if you are feeling frustrated, “anger” is probably more likely to come to mind.

Watch the video at Jon’s project page to learn from his insightful project and perhaps grab some take-aways for trying this on your own.

Jon Cousins presents his project at the Bay Area QS meetup

Jon Cousins presents “Words for Mood Measurement” at the Bay Area QS meetup. Follow Jon Cousins on Twitter.

Jon holding his book "Nudge Your Way To Happiness"

Jon holding his book Nudge Your Way To Happiness

Join us to share your learnings from a project, or simply be inspired at this year’s 2018 Quantified Self Conference in Portland, OR on September 22-23. Register here.

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Announcing InsideTracker Give-Away for QS18 Attendees

We are excited to announce InsideTracker as a QS18 Exhibitor. Gil Blander, President and Initial Founder, gave a great talk introducing InsideTracker at the QS15 Conference + EXPO.

Gil Blander shares his story of Inside Tracker at QS15

Gil Blander shares his story of Inside Tracker at QS15

InsideTracker puts the power of personalized nutrition into your hands, using your blood, DNA, and habits. They create evidence-based solutions that are simple, actionable, and personalized – because no two bodies are the same. InsideTracker’s goal is to cut through the noise of diet and fitness fads by analyzing blood, DNA, and habits, and tell each person how to live, look, age, and perform better.

Ahead of QS18, InsideTracker will be giving away a chance to test and retest using the Ultimate + InnerAge plan ($1107 in value) to two lucky QS18 attendees. Each selected candidate will get an opportunity to share their experience through a Show&Tell at QS18 in Portland. If you are registered for QS18, send us an email (labs@quantifiedself.com) with your project/question. If you haven’t yet registered—now is your time to register for QS18 to take advantage of this generous offer. We will be accepting emails until July 31.

In your email, please specify what you are hoping to learn and your time frame for completing project. You should plan to run this test in August/September in order to be prepared to present at the conference on September 22/23. We look forward to hearing from you!

Join us: Quantified Self 2018 Conference in Portland on September 22-23. Register here.

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