Topic Archives: Uncategorized

Three Wishes From Exactly Ten Years Ago

Exactly ten years ago, at an early Quantified Self meetup, Joe Betts-La Croix expressed “three wishes” for tools to make data collection for self-tracking easier.

Joe asked for:

  1. A simple database that would accept data inputs from anybody using fairly simple and adaptable formats (for instance .xml) and just hold it there, eventually allowing other people to upload tools for analysis so we could do interesting things with the data, like run statistical analysis, or simply graph it. Joe wanted something extremely simple.
  2. Devices that will send data to a simple, private data store using wifi. For illustration, he describes a scale that will send his weight data automatically, a blood pressure monitor, and a blood glucose monitor.
  3. An app for his phone designed to allow quick manual entry of any value, which is then transferred to the data store.

It’s interesting to look back on this from exactly ten years and ask: To what extent have these wishes come true? What turned out to be the hardest problem?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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QS18: Thank You!

The Quantified Self Conference was held on September 22nd and 23rd in Portland, Oregon. Over the two days of the conference we had over eighty talks, presentations, and breakout discussions about self-tracking, everyday science, and “self-knowledge through numbers.”  Over the next few weeks we will be posting videos, slides and notes, but for now let us just say thank you so much to everybody who attended and made this meeting possible. To see QS18 related posts on Twitter, look for #QS18.

For a full program list, see the QS18 Conference Page.

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The Personal Data Exploratory On Open Humans

In May we released the Personal Data Notebooks with Open Humans. These interactive documents – which bring together text, images and code – are designed to easily access an individual’s own personal data. At the launch of the Personal Data Notebooks we invited the Open Humans and Quantified Self community to contribute their own personal data analyses, to share them with a wider audience. Thanks to the community our analysis library includes notebooks that make use of 23andMe, Fitbit, Twitter, Apple HealthKit, Moves, RescueTime and Google Search History!

To make it easier to find these notebooks – and easier to share your analyses with others – we are now launching our companion to the Personal Data Notebooks, the Personal Data Exploratory. The Exploratory lists ready-to-use data analyses which can be run on your own data as a Personal Data Notebook. You can browse the existing analyses, filter them by your own data sources of interest, preview them, and like/discuss them with other community members. Once you have found an analysis you would like to run on your own data, it is only two clicks to run it.

Your favorite data source is missing or you have an analysis you want to share with a wider audience? Sharing your own Personal Data Notebook and putting it into the Exploratory is just as easy and can be done right from an existing notebook. Give your notebook a descriptive name, write some words on what the analysis does and that’s it. Together we can create a thriving library of quantified self analyses.

Happy exploring!

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Whitney E. Boesel: Cholesterol Variability: Hours, Days, And My Ovulatory Cycle (Part II)

After conceiving a beautiful baby girl, Whitney E. Boesel participated in the Bloodtester’s Project - a group of self-trackers conducting their own experiments to better understand their cholesterol together. After having her baby, Whitney learned that her cholesterol was unusually high and she became curious to understand what the cause was. She presented her findings, Cholesterol Variability: Hours, Days, And My Ovulatory Cycle, at the QS CVD Symposium earlier this year. 

Given that one side of Whitney’s family genetics has very high cholesterol, she wondered if it was finally time she had to stop eating so much cheese, or if rather, it was simply high due to having a baby. Using an at home cholesterol testing device (Cardiochek), she decided to test a fairly unusual hypothesis: if she does absolutely nothing, will her cholesterol get better all by itself? After getting more cholesterol data points ever recorded of a woman post-birth, she happily discovers that her cholesterol did just get better as her body’s hormones shifted back to her own. She continues to track her cholesterol among other things and we look forward to hear what she learns next.

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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Whitney E. Boesel: My Numbers Sucked, But I Made This Baby Anyway (Part 1)

Despite the fact that our human existence relies on pregnant women and birth, there is surprisingly very little understood when a woman doesn’t fall within the “averages” and the “knowns.” We are all so different, and any woman knows that her body at some point will most likely not fall within the “average” range and when that happens, we must investigate. For humankind depends on this investigation.

Whitney E. Boesel, a scientist by trade and QS’er by life fortunately has been tracking her own magical body both pre and post pregnancy and sharing her results with Quantified Self along the way. So, this is a two part post: pre-pregnancy and the next one will share a post-pregnancy discovery.

Whitney wanted to have a baby and learned that she was “too late” to have children. However, by disregarding the average, she started tracking her AMH (and other hormones) as a result, but the most important things she learned had nothing to do with endocrinology. In her project, My Numbers Sucked, But I Made This Baby Anyway, Whitney discusses the abnormally low numbers and how she managed to conceive and give birth to a very healthy baby despite all of the odds against her.

Whitney shares her project My Numbers Sucked, But I Made This Baby Anyway at QS17 in Amsterdam

Whitney shares her project My Numbers Sucked, But I Made This Baby Anyway at QS17 in Amsterdam

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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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Tracking Happiness: Ellis Bartholomeus

Sharing Ellis Bartholomeus, again–not only because she’s awesome–but, the project she presented at 2015 QS Europe Conference in Amsterdam, Draw a Face a Day relates to a recent post on Tracking Happiness.  Like Ashish’s project, Ellis tracks her mood with 1 simple task at the end of the day–but, instead of using a number (at least not in the beginning), she draws a face: happy, sad, confused, melancholic, etc.

As a designer by trade, drawing is a fun way for Ellis to track her mood, however, she struggled to find ways to visualize the data to actually learn from it. She eventually came up with a number system (1-3) and a color coding system that she could then look at weeks and months at a time. She began to add to the face-a-day tracking and drew glasses of wine for each drink she had, pots for when she cooked at home, etc. She learned what color she typically lived her best life at and found that she became both happier and healthier from doing this project.

Ellis' daily drawings tracking various aspects of her life

Ellis’ daily drawings tracking various aspects of her life

Ellis' weight decreased while she actively tracked her mood and alcohol usage using pictures.

Ellis’ weight decreased while she actively tracked her mood and alcohol usage using pictures

Ellis' visualizations from her project "A Face a Day"

Ellis’ visualizations from her project “A Face a Day”

 

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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Tracking Happiness: Ashish Mukharji

Another conceptually simple idea, but still just as profound, comes from a project by Ashish Mukharji called Tracking Happiness, presented at a Bay Area Meetup in 2013. It’s another great example of the timelessness of QS projects. QS’ers are constantly asking ageless questions where the answers are often in flux as our bodies and minds grow. It’s fascinating to reflect back on both what we are learning individually and collectively at Quantified Self; for, the confirmation from similar answers, makes the projects all the more profound.

Ashish is the author of Run Barefoot and Run Healthy. In 2010, Ashish bought a book called How of Happiness for an extra boost in happiness. He wasn’t unhappy, but he enjoyed the instructions the book provided and began tracking his happiness for three years, rating each day with one number between 1-10.  He learned that he is on average a 7 out of 10. But, more importantly, through tracking his happiness, he learned that it was most greatly affected by sleep and other variables such as mean people and solitude.  After tracking his happiness for three years, he essentially learns some important tools to help keep his life as happy as possible. (Certainly a worthwhile project for all of us to learn from!)

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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Tracking Gratitude: Dan Armstrong

Dan Armstrong kept a gratitude list for two years and shared his project Learning from Gratitude at a New York Meetup in 2015. Armstrong is a writer and in this talk, he shares how keeping a gratitude list every day for the past two year has changed his habits, actions and outlook.

Every morning Armstrong writes down five things that he’s grateful for, five things that happened in the previous day and five things that he is feeling right then. When he shared this talk, he had collected over 3,000 items. His findings are simple, but a good reminder for all of us to stay present with a mindset of gratitude, especially as we live through very challenging times. How do you track your gratitude?

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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Tracking Our Past: Ellis Bartholomeus

Ellis Bartholemeus is a big fan of quantifying and at QS17 she presented her project My Health Scars that shares her “quantified body” from tracking and measuring her physical scars. Scars represent memories from the past that are often derived from traumatic events. However, there can be deep learnings lived through each “representative” scar and Ellis inspires us to identify and celebrate these marks, as opposed to hide them.

Ellis’ project reminds us to look at our own personal scars and history lived through them. And today, on the Fourth of July (The United State’s Independence Day), we can open our lens even further to investigate the scars of our country and our planet. What can we learn from simply looking at them, measuring them, tracking them? Scars represent history; recalling that history helps us see what we missed, who we hurt, what we lost, or perhaps, what we gained. If we ignore the scars, we potentially lose sight of who we are and where we’ve come from. In this talk, Ellis exposes the intimate and deep learnings that come from slowing down to track a part of one’s life, and in her instance, scars.

Ellis tracks the data on her scars which includes the date of the injury, size of the scar, impact of the scar, and healing time

Ellis tracks the data on her scars which includes the date of the injury, size of the scar, impact of the scar, and healing time

Ellis measuring a scar

Ellis measuring a scar

Ellis' talk at QS17 in Amsterdam

Ellis’ talk at QS17 in Amsterdam

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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Music Habits Analyzed Through Tracking: Steven Jonas

Steven Jonas presented his interesting project, Spaced Listening to the Bay Area Meetup Group at the Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley in 2017. In this project, Steven takes a very active role in his music engagement to increase his listening palate.

Steven knows that he needs to listen to an album a few times before he begins to like it. Despite knowing this, he found that he often chose not to listen to a new album because he knew it would be somewhat unpleasant. In this talk, he shows a system he created that schedules when he should listen to a particular album in the hopes that it would lead him to liking new music.

Steven's timing schedule of when to introduce new songs

Steven’s timing schedule of when to repeat new songs

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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