Topic Archives: Meeting Recaps
Duane Hewitt gives an update on his 23&Me data and what he’s started doing since he received his results.
Dmitri Gomon describes how he tracked his way to losing 9kg over four months.
Jim gave a brief overview of how and why he’s tracking his Starbucks intake.
This guest post comes to us from Konstantin Augemberg who covers many interesting Quantified Self topics and his personal tracking experience on the wonderful MeasuredMe blog.
On Monday, September 30, Quantified NYC group has held its 23th meetup. The event was graciously hosted by Projective Space which offers collaborative community space to over 60 startups. With over a hundred people in attendance, interesting demos and inspiring presentations (quantifying Starcraft gaming skills, predicting choice of clothes based on weather forecast, and other self-quantified awesomeness!), it turned out to be a great evening. Here is my brief report on what I saw and loved:
We started with our Demos session during which QS entrepreneurs showcased their products and services:
- David Joerg (@dsjoerg) presented his GGTracker, web service that uses advanced analytics to help Starcraft players to track their stats and quantify and improve gaming skills
- Paula Murgia presented Personal Beasties app that helps people to cope with anxiety, fatigue and stress by using simple breathing exercises
- Stefan Heeke (@Stefan_Heeke) showcased My Online Habits, a webapp that uses Gmail and Google data to help analyze your productivity and communications habits
- Mike McDearmon (@Mike_McDearmon) demoed an awesome online dashboard that he built to visualize his outdoors activities.
The Show & Tell session was opened by Mette Dyhrberg (@mettedyhrberg) and her “The Pomodoro Recovery” presentation. Following the bouncing castle accident, Mette has been diagnosed with concussion and was recommended to rest and avoid using electronic devices in order to recover. She started tracking her symptoms, diet, and resting and working habits using Pomodoro method and Mymee app. The lack of progress has prompted her to look at her tracking data, after which she realized that she may have been misdiagnosed. The visit to another doctor has revealed that she sustained a neck injury, which luckily, could be fixed right on the spot. The treatment procedure helped her to feel better almost immediately. You can watch Mette’s presentation here.
In “Quantifying What to Wear”, Andrew Paulus (@andrewcpaulus) shared how he used self-tracking to measure impact of weather on his choice of clothes. It started when Andrew noticed that one of his morning habits included checking weather on his phone in order to decide what to wear on that day. That led to an idea to measure efficiency of this process, by tracking his choice of clothes and then assessing at the end of the day, if the choice was correct. His first attempt at quantifying weather and wardrobe was unsuccessful, due to some flaws in methodology and measurement (e.g., the weather data was collected at different times of the day; the clothes data was not very well structured). Andrew then has revised the methodology, by subscribing to more reliable and comprehensive weather data from Farmer’s Almanac, and logging wardrobe data in a more consistent manner. His girlfriend kindly agreed to co-participate in this experiment. After six months of tracking, Andrew looked at their data. He found that the overall, he tended to be slightly more accurate in choosing what to wear, compared to his girlfriend: his accuracy rate was 78%, vs. her rate of 74%. Another interesting finding was that his choices were more weather appropriate. The correlation between the clothes and weather was nearly 0.7 for him, and nearly 0 .1 for his girlfriend, which suggests that her choices are often influenced by many other factors, not just weather. You can see the full presentation here.
Amy Merrill (@amyjmerrill) shared her experiences with “Sleep Tracking with Jawbone Up”. Since April 2013, she has been tracking her sleep (deep sleep phase, in particular) using Jawbone Up, as well as social and work related activities using Google Calendar. By analyzing the patterns in her data, she was able to see how certain activities affect her deep sleep. In particular, she learned that more physical activity and sleep deprivation led to more deep sleep, where as restful days tend to result in more light sleep. Certain social activities like attending wedding and taking trips on tour bus have also had a considerable impact on quality of her sleep. For the next phase, she plans to include some aspects of the diet, including consumption of alcohol, caffeine and over-the-counter drugs. You can watch Amy’s presentation here.
The session was concluded by Andrew Tarvin’s (@HumorThatWorks) funny and inspiring presentation “The Perfect Day”, in which he discussed the tracking system that he used to build some new habits. Andre has been rating each day based on the number of goals that he achieved (e.g., waking up without snoozing the alarm, do something active for 20+ minutes, eat at least 4 fruites a day, etc.) The days with at least 3 goals met were defined as “quality days”, and the days with all 5 goals accomplished were rated as “perfect”. Andre learned that the strive for perfection was the most demotivating factor: missing one goal earlier in the day often resulted in giving up on all other habits as well. Waking up without snoozing was the most influential habit in that regard. He also learned that the “streaks” of quality and perfect days was the most motivational factor; once he had several consecutive successful days in a row, it was much easier to continue meeting the goals. Andre has been using this system for three years, and plans to continue using it to acquire new habits. You can read more about his system on his site. You can watch video of the presentation here.
As always, before and after the sessions, I had a chance to mingle and meet a lot of interesting people. Special shout out to Stefan Heeke, Mike McDearmon, Sylvia Heisel, Michael Moore and Dave Comeau.
London’s August Meetup sessions are now up on Vimeo. Drop what you’re doing and head on over for:
- Anxiety and Me by Farzana Dudhwala
- Long Run Quantification by Mathew Beard
- Skill Acquisition by Adam Johnson
See them now before they’re converted to 3D and have lost all their QS edginess. Videos can all be found on the London QS channel:
This guest post comes to us from QS Los Angeles member, Mark Krynsky.
I went to the Los Angeles Quantified Self Meetup meeting on March 7th and had a fantastic time meeting like-minded people that are all willing to experiment and share their experiences. The meetup was held at the artisanal engineering studios of the Two Bit Circus located in the eclectic Brewery Art Colony. This made for a really great venue.
The first speaker was Brent Bushnell who is the Circus ring leader. He walked us through a project his team worked on for the Extreme Makeover Home Edition where they built a relaxation chair for a veteran that suffered from PTSD. They used sensors to track his biometrics to help identify when he may be susceptible to trauma. When certain thresholds were met based on his heart rate the soldier would sit in the chair which would then play soothing sounds and had an aroma therapy device.
Coming off of a Sunday morning spread of our last QS Louisville event, in the Louisville Courier Journal, we threw another Quantified Self Meetup just last Wednesday. This time we were in the World Headquarters of the Beam Bluetooth Toothbrush. I roped Alex Frommeyer, Beam Brush CEO, into becoming a co-organizer with me and together we were unstoppable in tapping into the Louisville Metro’s thirst for quantifying their lives. Here’s the Insider Louisville article talking up the event beforehand to prove it.
I actually shot video of all three speakers, but am running into technical difficulties in post production, so I figured I’d get the post up first and possibly follow with the videos as time permits… In the meantime, here’s is what we discussed last Wednesday:
We totally had Mark Gehring co-founder of Asthmapolis in the house, as he was in town giving a preliminary update on the Louisville Smarter Cities initiative we have going on here between the City, IBM and Asthmapolis. Mark is a great guy who gave an really inspiring talk on how both use of rescue inhalers has decreased and asthma free days have increased, on average, from month one to month two of the program. A super cool byproduct of this effort is the ability to have the data mapped to look for areas of interest, geographically, and try to gain more of an understanding of how our natural and man made surroundings interact to affect air quality.
Next up we had Wes Brooks, an engineering student at the University of Kentucky, who made the trek to present on a project he is working on called Pivott, a way for people to answer their health related questions using various sources of data so that they may take action on their health. Wes’ project stems from his love for Quantified Self and his interest in understanding exactly what he can do to prevent adverse health affects that seem to run in his family. Wes contends that there are a lot of opportunities to look at data, but he aims to solve the interpretation of that data to answer practical health questions.
ADVENTURES IN RISK LOGGING
I brought up the rear to talk about something I’ve been doing since the Quantified Self Global Conference last September… and that is Risk Logging with my friend, Dr. Gareth Holman. When Gareth and I met up for beers at the conference, he introduced me to FAP, Functional Analytical Psychotherapy, as a way to measure and (hopefully) increase the risks that I take, because that was of interest to me. We use a three point scale to rate daily risks and track points divided by points possible each week to come up with a weekly score. This weekly score, then, can be averaged monthly and that gives me a baseline of month one followed by the average scores of subsequent months. It turns out that over a four month time period, I have increased my average risks taken by 26%. True story. But more importantly, it is now becoming second nature to push myself to do things that I normally would not do.
Call me biased, but I thought this was a great event. I’m inspired by the new people I was able to meet and talk with and it is looking like there is a general interest in QS among Louisvillains. Alex and I will put another QS Meetup together in mid to late spring and I’m pumped to get more people in front of the group so that we may learn from their experiences.
This is a guest post from Philip Goebel of Melbourne, Australia. Thanks Phil!
On January 30th, QS Melbourne held its first Show & Tell. It was on Melbourne University campus, with the space being organized by the university’s Interaction Design Lab and some light snacks and drinks for the audience provided by the Health and Biomedical Informatics Research Unit.
After a short round of introductions, our first presenter Paul Kittson (co-organizer of QS Melbourne) started the Show & Tell. Paul talked about his struggle with chronic knee pain. After visiting multiple health professionals, a physiotherapist suggested starting a pain journal to track the pain. Paul followed this advice and began regularly tracking his pain along with a note about his activity, using old-fashioned pen and paper. This led to surprising insights about what was aggravating his knee pain, resulting in a reduction of self-limiting behaviour and eventually leading to the cessation of chronic pain symptoms.
This post was kindly sent in by Peter Lewis and Florian Schumacher, translated from Arne Tensfeldt’s original post in German.
The first Show & Tell meetup of theBerlin International Quantified Self Group took place on November 22nd. The Berlin QS Group had been founded several weeks earlier for the English-speaking Berlin community. With around 70 participants, the meetup was the largest to date in Germany, having been announced and covered by a variety of Berlin blogs and news sites. The meeting began with the standard “three word introduction,” in which everyone present introduced themselves with just three of their interests or other descriptive words. The variety of chosen descriptions and interests reinforced the wide range of the QS movement and offered a good preview of the subjects that would be discussed over the rest of the evening.
After this introduction, Steve Dean (head of the NY Quantified Self Group) began with a keynote speech about the founding of the Quantified Self movement as well as his own experience in preparing for an Ironman Triathlon. Through the measurement of his resting pulse every morning, recommended by his trainer, he was able to predict when he would get sick from overtraining and reschedule his workouts to allow more rest at the right times. He then discussed a second self-experiment that was also shaped by his athletic pursuits: after the end of his intensive Ironman training, he suffered from an inflammation of his eyelids. After countless unsuccessful treatment attempts, he learned from careful self-tracking that the regular exposure to chlorine from swimming had been keeping this problem in check — and after a long break, resuming his visits to the pool led to a recovery from the infection. His slide presentation can be seen here.
Max Kossatz, CEO of Archify, showed the data he had gathered from his company’s newly developed browser plugin. Archify tracks each website that a user visits, saving all text content and capturing a screenshot. This leads to a type of digital “mindfile” which can be easily searched in the future. Max presented an analysis of his own online content in his personal project “My Online Life for the Last 8 Months.” In addition to showing his preferred sources of information, this data also made it possible to recognize patterns like the drastic reduction of online time during his vacation, or an increase in online activity during his preparation for important business events. His presentation can be seen here.
As the third speaker, Peter Lewis (co-organizer of the Berlin QS group) showed his experience with spaced repetition algorithms to optimize learning efficiency, which he had used in learning languages. As a starting point, he set up an experiment in which he (as a native English speaker) tried to acquire all the new vocabulary he found in a German novel — about 900 words — within a period of one month. He demonstrated the use of software that allowed him to track his progress through decks of digital flashcards. With an excursion into theory and algorithms, as well as practical explanations and tips on the current state of the technology, he gave a comprehensive overview of spaced repetition software applications and and the different ways to use them.
After the lectures, the attendees had the chance to view demos from some Berlin startups in the QS field and to make new contacts as well. The event was also recorded by the TV show Planetopia; their episode on QS aired on Monday, December 3rd.
The organizers of the Berlin group are already planning their next meeting: in January’s Show & Tell there will be numerous speakers on subjects like genome sequencing, health and biohacking, as well as another Demo Hour with projects and startups from the QS scene.
A big part of what we do here at Quantified Self is support and promote our amazing meetup groups around the world. We have a wonderful network of meetups in over 70 cities in more than 15 countries around the world. We wouldn’t be able to post all the great videos and articles here on the Quantified Self website if it wasn’t for the meetup organizers and attendees coming together to share and learn about self-tracking and self-experimentation in warm and open environments.
Today we just wanted to highlight a few of the most recent meetups from around the world!
We have another exciting week of meetups coming up with events in Seattle, Stockholm, Phoenix, and Singapore. If you don’t have a meetup in your community and want to learn more about how to start one just let us know!
We had a great turnout at our last meetup in New York hosted at startup accelerator program Blueprint Health in Soho. Thank you to my co-organizers, Patrick Whitaker and Andrew Paulus , who helped pull together this recap. And thank you to the rest of my co-organizers Brian Gallegos, Mark Brooks and Konstantin Augemberg for helping out with another fascinating evening of demo and show&tell talks.
Our latest demo hour included five presenters with concepts ranging from behavior change to respiratory training. QS attendees mingled around tables and engaged in interactive discussions with five demonstrators, who had come to present some interesting and diverse initiatives.
Susan Alexander from app4Mind presented a mental model she created for behavior modification. Susan was inspired by her own experience, those of others, and the world’s wealth of research on change, growth, and how to change behavior. The model distills all of this down to four memorable principles, each word beginning with the letter M. Together, they serve as a “mind app” which she presented in illustrated form. Susan is planning to launch a new website by year’s end to serve as a platform for app4Mind.
Matt Stanfield demonstrated BagIQ, a platform he is developing to give people product-level purchase data and insight into spending habits. BagIQ renders detailed product-by-product, dollar-by-dollar analysis, and presents them in simple, digestible ways. The power is in taking that product level data and connecting it to personally relevant 3rd party data specific to each user’s health, diet, ethics, shopping. Matt’s demo culminated with sweeping discussions about potential applications and insights that could be derived from the data and it will be interesting to see how BagIQ develops.
Melody Wilding presented eCaring, a care management system that seeks to generate comprehensive, real-time behavioral & clinical data from a patient’s home. eCaring was developed to enable hospitals, healthcare providers & families to track & respond to conditions, making early intervention possible, reducing hospital readmissions, lowering care costs, & improving care quality for seniors & people with chronic conditions. eCaring currently has several programs underway with hospitals & for long term care management.
Anthony Ina demonstrated a prototype of HealthBoard, which was developed to allow active duty military personnel the ability to interact with their own personal health information and electronic medical records, and to offer healthcare providers better access to patients and their decisions. By integrating information design principles, HealthBoard seeks provides users with enhanced and streamlined access to information, making it less intimidating and easier to understand the impacts of decisions on health outcomes.
Bez Arkush demonstrated a device that can measure inspiratory and expiratory breathing. Different resistance levels support breathing measurements and exercises to be used in respiratory therapy and respiratory sport training. The device connects with iPads and creates a game-like environment while keeping track of your activity.
Following demo hour, we had six show&tell talks on guitar playing, lucid dreaming, salt sensitivity, exercise, headaches and the unconscious.
Exploring the Sleep Frontier – Lucid Dreaming with the Zeo
The evening started with Dave Comeau, a lucid dreaming enthusiast who described his experiments hacking the Zeo to help trigger lucid dreams. Although Dave had been experimenting with lucid dreaming for many years, the launch of the Zeo Sleep Manager gave him fresh insight into his sleeping patterns, specifically about when he entered the REM sleep states most conducive to lucid dreaming. Dave introduced resources like Zeoscope and Sleep Stream Online and told of his experiments using the Zeo extensions to trigger visual and auditory cues with hopes of inducing lucid dreaming, although they often backfired by waking him up. Following the presentation, there was an interactive Q&A in which the potential of other sensory cues was discussed (e.g. olfactory or gustatory cues like using X10 to trigger a Glade PlugIn). When asked what drew him to lucid dreaming, Dave said “I don’t know what the benefits of those are — except being awesome!”
Exercise and Consumption
The next talk was by Emily Chambliss, who had completed several months of tracking her consumption and exercise in a comprehensive, color-coded spreadsheet. When asked about the motivation behind this effort, Emily noted that she didn’t trust her own perceptions, which is why she needed to start tracking. Informed by her nutrition and activity tracking, Emily was able to strategize, set goals, and implement greater levels of self discipline into her daily life. Over time she learned that her behavior was surprisingly predictable, and clear insights emerged about her self-described “lack of discipline on weekends.” In response to audience questions about the scope and challenges of her tracking project, Emily clarified that she tracked “everything — including booze, which was painful” and was quick to note that “a shot of whiskey has 64 Calories, according to most sources.”
Midway through the evening, we heard from Greg Pomerantz on a self experiment he had conducted on salt sensitivity. Greg noted that health authorities generally recommend salt restriction, which is controversial since people have varying levels of sensitivity to salt that cannot be addressed by blanket advice. Greg raised one of the challenges that “you need IRB approval when you do experiments on humans — except, you know, when you do it on yourself.” Thus empowered with the administrative freedom of n=1 self-experimentation, Greg weighed himself every morning and deliberately varied his salt intake through three phases over a period of several weeks. Although Greg had conceived this experiment since his blood pressure was at the higher end of the normal range, he was surprised by his findings that he was not particularly sensitive to salt, and moreover that the only adverse consequences he experienced (e.g., impair thermoregulation) seemed to be caused by insufficient salt consumption. Since his experiment, Greg has made a point to add more salt to his meals to ensure sufficient levels of consumption. When asked if he had talked to his primary care physician about this, Greg smiled and said, “not yet, but I’m sure he would be interested.”
200 Hours of Guitar Practice in a Year
Jake Jenkins had always wanted to play the guitar, and he told an impressive story of pursuing this goal with the help of commitment devices and Beeminder. Based on his prior experiences learning kite surfing, indoor rock climbing, and downhill skiing, Jake estimated he would need to spend 400 hours deliberately practicing the guitar to be “good enough” and set a goal of practicing for 35 minutes every day for two years. After mixed results and missed practice sessions at the beginning, Jake grew interested in commitment devices and discovered the website Beeminder.com, which helped hold him accountable on a daily basis and achieve remarkable consistency with his guitar practice. Although Jake said at the outset that “[he] would classify[himself] as without rhythm,” he has been continuously improving through one year and 200 hours of guitar practice, which is evident by the videos he posts on YouTube every few months to show himself playing. Although Jake found self-tracking to be a powerful motivator, he learned that it isn’t always enough and can sometimes use the assistance of external commitment devices to stay on track. Jake’s talk was a compelling example of using QS concepts to motivate and manage his efforts to develop a challenging new skill.
Figuring out a Headache’s Source
The next presenter was Michael Wenger, who implemented a series of lifestyle experiments in response to some startlingly vague advice from a doctor. Prompted by chronic headaches, Michael had undergone an MRI which revealed a benign brain tumor. Extreme risks ruled out surgery as a viable option, so a physical simply recommended that Michael “make some lifestyle changes” to try to reduce the frequency and intensity of his headaches. With this sudden burst of motivation, Michael made some critical lifestyle changes including easing the pressure of academic overachieving by electing some pass/fail courses, improving his sleeping habits and eliminating all consumption of alcohol. Michael used various mobile apps to track relevant activities, and over the short term, Michael learned that the best remedy for an excruciating headache was “driving a car with the windows down while having a milkshake.” More importantly, Michael learned that “you can fix things” over the long term by tracking relevant measure to increase awareness of lifestyle choices and making changes to improve your condition.
Storyboarding the Psyche
The final talk of the night was delivered by Cliff Atkinson, who started with the question of “how do you quantify the unconscious?” Interested in exploring such tendencies as procrastination in the context of knowledge about the unconscious developed by the early psychoanalysts, Cliff took a remarkably visual approach to his self tracking by tracking his body, emotions, and thinking through the creative use of iPhone apps, including Insight Timer and Penultimate. By importing clip art in the shape of a body and a head, Cliff created a template where he would visually annotate his feelings and observations each day, and he could zoom out in Penultimate to see many days at once and reflect on the visual storyboard of his tracking activities over time.