Topic Archives: What We’re Reading
Another collection of thought-provoking items from around the web.
Articles & Posts
Plan to move from #quantified self to Qualified Self by Inga de Waard. Every now and then someone writes something that causes me to pump the brakes and really reflect on self-tracking and personal data collection. This is one of those time. Inga does a nice job here setting up her experience with self-tracking to understand her type 1 diabetes. She moves on to explore how “qualified data” might be a better source of information for personal growth, “I am more than my body, I am mind. So I want to understand more.”
The Bracelet of Neelie Kroes (in German) by Frank Schirrmacher. Can machines be trusted? Are we building and willingly wearing the handcuffs of the future by strapping tracking devices to our wrists? These questions are explored in this article. (If you’re like me you are probably wondering who Neelie Kroes is. Here’s some background info.)
Biggest Gene Sequence project to launch by Bradley J. Fikes and Gary Robbins. J. Craig Venter is at it again. Now that genome sequencing has passed the $1000 barrier he has set up a new company in order to recruit and sequence 40,000 people per year.
This Mediated Life by Christopher Butler. Another amazing piece of self-reflection spawned by the recently released Reporter App. Rather than reviewing the application, the author addresses what it means to self-track when we know we are our own observer. Do we bias our reflection and data submission when we know that each answer, each data point is being collected into a larger set? (This post reminded me of one of my favorite movie lines, “How am I not myself.” from I Heart Huckabees
The Open Collar Project. At a recent meeting I learned of this project to create an open-source dog tracking collar. Pet trackers are becoming more prevalent in the market, but the purpose of this project goes far beyond just understanding pet activity. I learned from the lead researcher, Kevin Lhoste, that they’re using this as a method to encourage and engage children in science and mathematics. Very neat stuff.
Twitch Crowdsourcing: Crowd Contributions in Short Bursts of Time [PDF] by Rajan Vaish, Keith Wyngarden, Jingshu Chen, Brandon Cheung, and Michael S. Bernstein. This research paper describes the results of a really interesting project to gather information from people using micro-transactions during the phone unlocking process. It appears that we can learn a lot from people in under 2 seconds.
The Open FDA. Not an article here, but I wanted to call attention to the new open initiative by the FDA. This new effort was spearheaded by Presidential Innovation Fellow, Sean Herron. If you’re interested in doing this type of work you can apply to be a fellow here.
Show&Tells (a selection of first person stories on self-tracking and personal data)
200 days of stats: My QS experience by Octavian Logigan. Octavian recounts the various data he’s collected including activity, sleep, email behavior, and work productivity. I really like how he clearly explains what tools he’s using.
A Year in Diabetes Data by Doug Kanter. We’ve featured Doug here on the blog before. From his amazing visualizations to his talks about his process, we’ve been consitently impressed and inspired by this work. In this post Doug recounts 2012 – “[...] the healthiest year of my life.” (Full disclosure: Doug sent me the poster version of his data and it is beautiful.)
This visualization comes to us from Tim Kim, a design student based in Los Angeles.
The map shows different collections and documentations made during my cross country trip. Posts made during the trip on various social media sites are orientated and placed by the geological locations. The states are elongated by purely how I felt about the duration of going across the specific state. For example, driving through texas sucked (no offense). Different facts are layered and collaged across the map to create and express a collective, over-all image of the trip. Some quantifiable information, some quantitative information to create a psych-geolocal map.
Thumbs Up Viz A really nice website that highlights and explains the good pieces of data visualization popping up all over the web these days.
From the Forum
An extra long list for you to this time. Enjoy!
Articles & Posts
Beyond the Data Portal by Jed Sundwall. The open data refrain has been taken up by non-profits, local, and national governments around the world. Have we questioned what it really means to be good data stewards? A very nice post here that opens up a discussion about the role of data librarians to augment simple access with human-powered information wayfinding.
Could Behavioral Medicine Lead the Web Data Revolution? by John W. Ayers, Benjamin M. Althouse, and Mark Dredz. If you can look past the slightly antiquated use of the term “web data” here you’ll see a good critique of the current methods in behavioral health science and the role of personal data in medical and behavioral research.
Little data: Tracking your life through numbers by Dominic Smith. A nice short piece here on the art behind self-tracking,
Critics might ask why we should care about the aggregated, daily routine of a man most of us will never never meet. But fans would argue that these reports aren’t merely novelties for the coffee table—they represent data as art, a single year of human life parsed into graphs and charts.
Fitness Trackers Could Boost Kids’ Health, But Face Challenges, Experts Say by Tia Ghose. Activity trackers are all the rage these days, but can they be used to track and understand children’s physical activity?
Questioning the Quantified Self as it Marches Towards Mainstream by Matt Stempeck. A very thorough recap of a talk by Natasha Dow Shull given at the MIT Media Lab. It covers the history of self-tracking and the current trend towards algorithmic selfhood. Great read.
When quantified-self apps leave you with more questions than answers by Brendan O’Connor. The author takes at self-tracking and personal data through the lens of the newly released Reporter app. Reading this piece left me wondering, are questions the prominent artifact of a self-tracking practice?
Dan Hon’s Newsletter By Dan Hon. I know you get enough email already, but this is an exceptional project by Dan to express his ideas in the form of a daily newsletter. Covering the vast arena of techno-culture, it’s a great addition to my inbox. See his thoughts on Quantified Self in issue #15.
Quantify Everything: A Dream of a Feminist Data Future by Amelia Abreu. A very interesting perspective on self-tracking and the Quantified Self movement by our friends at Model View Culture.
The Ethicist’s and the Lawyer’s New Clothes by I. Glenn Cohen [video]. An interesting lecture on the ethical issues surrounding the use and misuse of “smart clothing.”
Data Sharing Essay Competition by DNA Digest. A writing competition to explore themes around the positives and negatives of data sharing in the health research community.
Show&Tells (a selection of first person stories on self-tracking and personal data)
Quantify Yourself by Amo Utrankar. What happens when a medical student starts self-tracking so he can understand his future patients?
Between Week 1 and Week 4, my “compliance” fell from 96% to 63%. It takes a committed, conscious effort to record every meal, every vital sign, every exercise, every minute of the day. I hold a new-found respect for the diabetic patient who has to monitor his blood sugar, manage his appointments, and mind his meals; it’s a process that’s both distracting and exhausting.
I tracked every penny I spent for one year. Here’s what I learnt. by Todd Green. Ten lessons learned from a year-long meticulous tracking project.
I lost 1,000 hours of sleep in 1 year: My story as entrepreneur & new Dad by Nick De Mey. A father recounts his process of learning about his sleep, or lack thereof. (Editor’s note: Nick is a founding member of AddApp, a Friend of QS).
My Facebook Messaging History by Person and Time. A great visualization and conversation with open source code so you can make your own.
My Recent Exercise Log – Plotted. Another reddit user shares his exercise data from MyFitnessPal.
What can you learn from almost 3 years of Skype chat logs?. A simple, but nice word cloud visualization of chat logs.
In total there were 280114 words sent. Words that refer to oneself (such as: i, me, ich, my, mich, min, meiner, meine, meins, jag, mig, mir) were used 14995 times whereas words that refer to other people (like above list for others) were only used 6669 times! People in my Skype conversations like to talk about themselves… (which is mostly me. THERE, I did it again )
Selfiecity. An interesting exploration of new media visualization techniques and social media information processing by an outstanding group of researchers. Take a tour of the website then read Lev Monivich’s post about this new area of research and data visualization.
From the Forum
We’ve collected another fun batch of reading for you. Enjoy!
High tech in vehicles puts drivers’ privacy up for grabs by Karl Henkel.The cars we’re driving are collecting, storing, and in some cases, transmitting all sorts of data. What are the implications of cars as computers?
Are Companies tracking us, or merely “observing” us? by James Robinson. Another privacy piece here. When large corporations collect consumer data are they able to understand us individually, or are they just making observations about general patterns? Don’t forget, we’ve been down this road before.
Here’s what happens when a data scientist goes to Disney World by Derrick Harris. Apparently the theme to start the list this week is consumer tracking. This article takes a look at the newly implemented “Magic Band” system at the Disney World Resort. Disney is clearly leading the field here, but experience augmentation based on personal data is coming very soon to a store near you.
NBA players start wearing wearable health trackers by John Comstock. Not a surprising move here by the the NBA to equip players with wireless healthy and activity tracking systems. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen self-tracking technology being adopted by professional athletes. I for one am looking forward to watching basketball games with integrated player data visualizations.
Self-surveillance: Should you worry or simply embrace your personal data? By Laurie Frick. A great piece here by our friend, Laurie Frick. Laurie is an artist based in Austin (and part of the Austin QS meetup group) that uses self-tracking data as the inspiration for her various artistic explorations. In this piece she explains her work and he feelings about self-tracking.
Home Automation is an EasyHard Problem by Scott Jenson. I’m a big fan of the Internet of Things and look forward to a more connected future. However, maybe our ideas about what is possible are misguided. In this short piece Scott explains that it’s possible we’re not properly classifying the actual problem at hand, “[...] humans are messy, illogical beasts and simplistic if/then rules are going to create a backlash against this technology.”
Summer Internship in Advanced Analytics. Our friends at Pew are looking for interns to work on advanced analytics and data science. We’d love to see a member of our QS Community help them out.
Visualizations of the Week
Eternal Portraits by Brian House. Facebook uses facial recognition algorithms to know what their users look like. At one point they exposed that data to users as part of the data export feature. Says Brian, “The information is unusable in its raw form without knowing the specifics of Facebook’s algorithm. But as an irrevocable corporate byproduct, the future implications of such data remain unclear.
The Formation of Love by Carlos Diuk. The Facebook data team crunched the numbers and started to learn what happens as users fall in and out of love.
Visualizing Health. A great new project from our friends at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and their collaborators at the University of Michigan. Browse the galleries to find scientifically vetted visualization techniques related a variety of health information situations.
From the Forum
Reporter App Question
Drowzy: app made by Board certified Psychiatrist and Sleep Medicine Expert
Fitness tracker and Jawbone Up data analysisa
Sentiment analysis on my own writing
Best iOS app to track water/coffee/alcohol intake?
Enjoy the information, ideas, and other bits of interestingness we’ve found compelling this week.
Articles and Posts
Medicine gets up close and personal by W. Wyatt Gibbs. At Quantified Self Labs we are big fans of Leroy Hood and his work at the Seattle based Institute for Systems Biology. In an effort to better understand longitudinal health he is spearheading a new pilot research project to track 100 people (genome, sleep, activity, etc.) and eventually hopes to enroll 100,000 people and follow them for 25 years. You can learn more about Dr. Hood’s ideas and this research in this short video.
The Couple That Pays Each Other to Put Kids to Bed by Ben Popken. It is not often that we get to peek into the lives of our Quantified Self community members. In this profile we learn how Bethany Soule and Daniel Reeves use game theory and behavioral economics to divvy up daily tasks in their household. You may also know Daniel and Bethany as the great team behind one of our Friends of QS, Beeminder.
How Science Turned a Struggling Pro Skier Into an Olympic Medal Contender by Jeffrey Marlow. With the 2014 Winter Olympics in full swing we’ve started seeing a number of articles detailing the role technology and self-tracking has played during the lead up to competition. This piece is a great look into the different methods the US Ski Team is using to gain and edge on their competition.
The pedagogy of disgust: the ethical, moral and political implications of using disgust in public health [PDF] by Deborah Lupton. For decades many public health campaigns have used emotional imagery in an attempt to reduce negative health behaviors. This research article, by one of our favorite sociologists, explores the history of using disgust in public health campaigns and the implications this practice has on different communities.
How Can We Help People Get More Sleep? by Lori Melchar. Lori is a program director at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and recently took part in a panel discussion on sleep. Due to the foundation’s involvement in numerous health research projects Lori was able to provide some insight into the current challenges and possible solutions for combating sleep loss.
The Weight of the Rain by Jonathan Corum. Jonathan is a senior graphics editor at the New York Times and he gave a talk at the recent Visualized Conference in New York. It’s by far one of my favorite pieces on designing and creating data visualizations that I’ve read this year.
Baseline Cherrypicker by Ben Schmidt. If you’re interested in data visualization and have a soft spot for baseball statistics you can’t do better than this great tool. (The Yankees are clearly the most dominate team in history.)
Where People Run by Nathan Yau. I’m a big fan of Nathan’s work over at Flowing Data. In this post he uses publicly available data from Runkeeper to plot routes for 22 major cities around the world. Apparently people love running near bodies of water.
Ranking Data Dashboards on Pinterest by Mike McDearmon. Mike is a member of the QS New York meetup group and he’s been actively keeping examples of data dashboards on Pinterest. In this short post he examines the number of re-pins to see what dashboards are most popular.
From the Forum
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Enjoy these ideas, insights, and other bits of interestingness from around the web.
Disinformation Visualization: How to lie with datavis by Mushon Zer-Aviv. Data may be objective, but once you start using it to tell a story things can get a bit muddled. This niece piece uses great examples to show how data and data visualization can be used to manipulate and skew information.
How fitness trackers could be used inpatient and outpatient to monitor medication effects by Timothy Aungst. In this short piece, Dr. Aungst makes the argument that fitness trackers, although measuring steps, could give insights into how patients are feeling. I especially enjoyed the use of real data as an example.
Data and its Discontents – notes and reflections from a panel at Microsoft Research Social Computing Symposium by Ethan Zuckerman. There are too many good ideas and interesting thoughts here to spoil it for you. A worthwhile read.
Connecting the Data Dots: Reporter for iPhone by Mills Baker. I enjoyed this piece because it was less an a technical app review and more of a thought piece on self-tracking tools framed by Feltons Reporter app – “It does not seem to be a “play” at something and doesn’t monetize you; it is a tool for self-knowledge.”
Something to Stand On. The economist takes a look at how the shift from service to platform is shaping the digital industry.
From the Forum
Statistical Findings. A great and ongoing discussion on applying statistics to personal data.
Common Blood Test – Sources, Prices, Advice. Where do you go if you want to get a blood test but don’t want to see a doctor?
Health Index Apps – Experiences and Impressions. What are the reliable health indexing services?
Enjoy this collection of stories, websites, and links we’ve been reading.
Food and Mood: Just In Time Support for Emotional Eating. Seeking to build a system to track emotional distress, the University of Rochester and Microsoft Research experimented with embedded wearable tracking systems.
Writing & Tracking. Dutch novelist Arnon Grunberg is writing a new book all while tracking his EEG (brain activity), GSR (skin conductivity) and ECG (heart rate).
The Quantified Breakup. A fascinating look at how one individual is using data and reflection to tackle divorce. So far posts include visualizations and analysis of sleep, music, movement, shopping, and emotional data.
How Would You Like Your Data Today? Internet Geologist Susannah Fox recounts her year of great releasing insightful reports at the Pew Research Center.
Tiny Salespeople [pdf]. In his latest essay, legal scholar Ryan Calo describes how tracking technologies increase the human “attack surface” and can be used to harm us.
Download Your Gmail & Google Calendar Data. Google recently announced the ability to download data from both your Gmail and Calendar accounts.
From our Forums.
Keeping Track of Time. A great new thread about an ope-source time tracking solution.
Zeo Mega-Thread. If you own a Zeo sleep tracker then this is the thread for you.
SenseView. An great explanation of a interesting new Android-based sensor and visualization application.
Join our forum to take part!
Here we are again. Another week and another set of links, ideas, and words for your inspiration and education. Enjoy!
Seeing the Human Pulse. Some interesting news out of MIT about using web cameras and video processing to detect pulse rate. Looks like this will be a hot new field on the heals of Microsoft announcing their new Kinect sensor will also have heart rate detection.
Statistical Analysis is not Performed by Statisticians by Jeff Leek: A short, but great piece on the current state of data analysis and the future of the field. Found via the alway amazing Flowing Data website.
The digitally engaged patient: Self-monitoring and self-care in the digital health era by Deborah Lupton: Another article by sociologist, Deborah Lupton on the rise of self-tracking and self-care in health. It’s behind a paywal, but if you ask nicely I’m sure someone can get the pdf for you.
Interview with Dr. Rob Miller, Developer of the rTracker App by Kostas Augemberg: A great interview by our friend and founder of the Measured Me website. It’s definitely worth your time if you’re using rTracker or looking to use a simple data tracking app.
University College London: PhD Project Announcement. Are you a PhD student or want to be one? Do you live in the UK? The Human-Computer Interaction lab is looking for students and has some interesting projects including: “Work-Life Balance and the ‘quantified self’: Using personal informatics tools to regain control over digital habits.”
Wearable Tech: Why Intel Thinks We Should Own Our Data. Intel makes the pieces that make our computers run. Why do they care about our personal data? Read this piece to understand why Intel thinks that one of the most important questions we should be asking ourselves as we deal with technology is “what sense-making activity are you putting on that data?”
A few weeks ago the EYEO festival concluded and there were some great talks about personal data. We decided to share a few here:
Help Me Visualize My Damn Data – Recently I visualized my medical record data and symptom history, and through the process I learned a lot about myself and was able to craft a more coherent narrative when communicating with my doctors. I’ve since met other patients who are creating insightful visualizations of their medical selves. But if visualizing health and medical data is so enlightening, why aren’t we doing more of it? Why isn’t it easier for patients to really see and understand their complex health information? This talk highlights some compelling stories about patient data visualization and outlines three key opportunities for data viz in healthcare.
Sheepy & SNPs: Place, Data & Identity - This is a talk about big data, identity and place: our sense of place with data, within our data. Let me explain. My great-grandmother has the same mouth as I do, as my mother does, as my aunt and my niece. The mouth that we share is data, connected through generations in a place called Sheepy, England. My 4th cousin contacted me on 23andme and asked me to share genetic data. She noted that we share a run of 1800 SNPs, what she calls “the place we share on Chromosome 2,” a place that overlaps with her third cousins in Sweden. By extension, I share that place, that data and those people, too. Whether it’s a run of SNPs or a connection to Sheepy, data has a sense of place, and we have a sense of place within our data. This talk is a story and exploration of those connections.
What You’re Reading
Beau Gunderson, a friend of QS and developer grand wizard, wanted to keep track of the ongoing conversations and news in the Quantified Self ecosystem. Naturally, he spent some time building a “top links” extractor from the #quantifiedself hashtag on Twitter.
Here are your top links this week:
The Body Data Craze – Newsweek and The Daily Beast
Wearable Devices Nudge You to Health – NYTimes.com
Living the quantified self: the realities of self-tracking for health – This Sociological Life
Startup Human API wants to bring quantified self data into the mainstream – GigOm Tech News and Analysis
Make a Sparktweet – Quantified Self
Quantified Self Conference
After Teasing Us At CES, Withings Enters The Fitness Tracking War With The $99 Pulse – TechCrunch
Disruptions: Medicine That Monitors You – NYTimes.com
Toolmaker Talk: Sampo Karjalainen (Moves) – Quantified Self