Topic Archives: Meeting Recaps
This guest post comes to us from Mark Moschel and Eugene Granovsky, the co-organizers of the Chicago Quantified Self meetup group. At their recent meetup on March 26, 2014 they had three great talks from community members. If you live in the Chicago area why not join the group!
Dan Abreu on GeoTracking
Dan travels a lot. I mean… a LOT! He stepped through an airport well over 300 times in 2012. He started documenting his travel a few years back and has used a variety of tools since: TripIt, Track My Life (discontinued), Google Latitude (discontinued), QStartz, and myTracks. During that time, his technique for tracking evolved and gained complexity. He’s now able to develop very detailed maps of his trips (see below). What has he learned from all this? “Not much” he said. However, he enjoys the practice and consistency of it and is excited to continue finding more uses for this data in the future.
Zak Boswell on Sleep
Like many of us, Zak was on a very inconsistent sleep schedule for most of his life and would often stay up too late. However, unlike many of us, Zak was experiencing severe fatigue during the day. In the span of just a couple years, he had 4 car accidents from falling asleep at the wheel (in two, his car was totaled). Realizing this was a problem, he started exploring traditional solutions. He saw a handful of doctors and participated in a very expensive (and ineffective) sleep study. During this time, he also started tracking his sleep and decided to go to bed at a consistent time each day (around midnight). In the data, he saw his sleep quality beginning to improve. He also stopped falling asleep during the day. At first, he struggled with the change, but he’s since changed his whole philosophy and loves it. You can view Zak’s presentation here [PDF].
Ovetta Sampson on how tracking helped her become an Ironman (or “The science of Faith”)
Let’s start with the end on this one. Here’s what Ovetta accomplished: 2.4 mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, 26.2 mile run – all in under 17 hours. Wow! Even more impressive is that she was never an athlete growing up and weighed 270 lbs in 2012. In just a year, she turned a seemingly impossible goal into a real accomplishment. How? She found faith in her data. “Tracking data helped me change my behavior” she said. By tracking her times, weight, speed, and distance, a few things happened: 1) she quickly saw progress and was motivated to keep going, 2) she became competitive with herself, always trying to beat her last score, and 3) she could ignore the thoughts in her mind. As she said, “you have to trust something and the mind is not to be trusted. Trust the data.” Her thoughts kept telling her to quit, but the data proved she was doing well. She didn’t quit and now she’s an Ironman. You can view Ovetta’s presentation here [PowerPoint].
For those of you in the Chicago area Elmhurst Art Museum is hosting a new exhibit called “Lifeloggers: Chronicling the Everyday.” Check it out here.
On March 26th we hosted a fantastic Quantified Self Bay Area meetup at the new Exploratorium space overlooking the San Francisco bay. Over 180 people came together to mingle, learn about new self-tracking tools, and hear from our wonderful speakers.
We were lucky to have four great presenters talk about their personal self-tracking process. Philip Thomas spoke about building his personal dashboard. Maria Benet talked about how she used self-tracking to lose 50 pounds and take up sport she never dreamed of. Michael Cohn described his use of time tracking and personal commitment contracts. Lastly, Sky Christopherson gave us an update to his wonderful self-tracking talk from a few years ago and how that turned into helping the Women’s US Olympic Track Cycling Team bring home a silver at the London Olympics in 2012. Videos of these talks will be up soon!
The QSXX Boston Chapter held our fifth meetup on March 3rd, 2014. We had a guest Amy Merrill from The Hormone Project talk about the direction of this new project. As a group, we discussed how something like the Hormone Project might be beneficial to us. We all agreed that it would be awesome if we could track our hormones at home, instantly, without going through a doctor (also, unicorns.) Relevant hormone research (if it exists at all) can be difficult to understand, and isn’t always driven by those it might have the biggest impact on. Concrete examples about the types of hormones and ways we can track these hormones would be very helpful.
We also talked about how sharing stories is a key aspect of QS, and how we might be able to facilitate further discussion around both hormones and QS in general. We discussed the potential benefits of not only being able to track our own data related to hormones, but also to see data from other people. While there are clear merits in sharing information, we also discussed the potential privacy implications therein. Some possibilities for collaboration between QSXX and The Hormone Project might include group tracking projects and/or “hormone dinner parties.” It was exciting to have The Hormone Project here for QSXX and we hope to have them attend a meetup again in the near future.
A lot of topics come up during each QSXX meetup. Here are a few concrete items that our group found interesting:
This article in Model View Culture on QS and feminism. We discussed how QSXX does and doesn’t address what the author is calling for here.
Glow. This is one example of a period tracking app. We discussed how most period tracking apps today are primarily fertility based, and it would be nice for new apps and tools to think more critically about what their users might want.
Bringing Back My Real Self With Hormones. An interesting article from the New York Times on the potential impacts of hormones on the self.
Reporter App. We talked about this (relatively) new app for “reporting” on your day, and the advantages and disadvantages of services that ping you to enter data and services that you use to manually enter data when you remember to.
AliveCor iPhone ECG. We discussed this cell phone ECG case, which is now available for purchase on Amazon.
Lift’s The Quantified Diet. We examined how this experiment is an interesting first step toward “Quantified Us” and how we might apply something similar for a group tracking experiment of our own.
Pact. This came up as we were discussing motivations for tracking and maintaining habits. In this case, you can earn money when you reach your goals
The next QSXX Boston meetup will be held early this Summer. Stay tuned!
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.