Topic Archives: What We’re Reading

What We Are Reading

Another great reading list for you today. We hope you enjoy these insightful and interesting pieces of writing as much as we did.

Douglas C. Engelbart passed away this week. Most known for the “mother of all demos,” he had a profound impact on the design and implementation of computing in our world.

Computer Visionary Who Invented the Mouse by John Markoff: A nice read that explains Engelbart’s background and experiences.

A few words on Doug Engelbart by Bret Victor: Bret does a masterful job here imploring us to think not about what Engelbart accomplished, but rather what he intended to do.

He intended to augment human intellect. He intended to boost collective intelligence and enable knowledge workers to think in powerful new ways, to collectively solve urgent global problems.

Thoughts and News on Quantified Self

Home Blood Pressure Monitoring: Take It to the Bank by David Magid and Beverly Green: This short editorial explains hos making blood pressure monitoring “more like modern banking: accessible, easy, and convenient” can improve hypertension management.

Winds of Change by the unnamed at the Economist: Essentially a book review of three new volumes on data analysis and visualization, this article poses an interesting question: “But should these books have been published on paper at all? ”

Data Confessions of the Quantified Self by Dorien Zandbergen: An attendee of our recent Quantified Self Europe Conference, Dr. Zandbergen presents her thoughts on the QS community and her observations of “people engaging in radical acts of self-disclosure.”

Git and GitHub for Data by Rufus Pollack: We have a keen interest here at QS in data and it’s ability to be shared amongst collaborators. In this post, Rufus Pollack describes his ongoing work describing and building systems for storing and versioning data.

Quantifying Our Cities, Ourselves by David Sasaki: Although not a new idea (see Esther Dysons The Quantified Community), David Sasaki does a nice job here of describing the opportunity to use data and “actionable knowledge” to understand and improve our cities.

Mad Scientist Sees a Future Where We See Our Quantified Selves on eBay by Daniela Hernandez: A intriguing interview with Walter De Brouwer, founder of Scanadu. (Disclosure: Scanadu is a sponsor of Quantified Self Labs).

Data, Metadata, and Privacy
There have been a lot of reactions to recent news about U.S. surveillance programs and rights to privacy. Here are a few links we found particularly compelling.

Me and my data – thoughts on online surveillance by Ethan Zuckerman: This is a wonderful piece discussing privacy and our data. Ethan does a masterful job of explaining the importance of metadata and gives a great example stemming from his work with the MIT Media Lab’s Immersion Project. (Editor’s note: We’ll have more on Immersion coming soon. Stay tuned.)

Measuring the importance of data privacy: embarrassment and cost by Jeff Leek: Another post from our new favorite statistician. Here Jeff talks about data and privacy and how he thinks about potential harm.

Using Metadata to Find Paul Revere by Kieran Healy: A sociologist describes a scenario where identifying Paul Revere as a traitor can be done with simple metadata and social network analysis.

But I say again, if a mere scribe such as I—one who knows nearly nothing—can use the very simplest of these methods to pick the name of a traitor like Paul Revere from those of two hundred and fifty four other men, using nothing but a list of memberships and a portable calculating engine, then just think what weapons we might wield in the defense of liberty one or two centuries from now.

What You’re Reading

Stealth Fitness Startup Human Wants to Make Quantified Self Mainstream | 395 tweets

The meta-quantified self: Argus app for iOS tracks all your health-tracking apps | 198 tweets

The Potential Behind Wearable Gadgets | 52 tweets

The Body Data Craze | 42 tweets

The Quantified Self: Growing Interest in APIs to Manage Personal Data | 23 tweets

Vanavond in OMT LIVE: Quantified self, huis in je handpalm en meer | 19 tweets

Hidden Capitalism In Life Hacking & The Quantified Self | 15 tweets

Wearable Devices Nudge You to Health | 14 tweets

Global List of Digital Health & Health Innovation Events | 12 tweets

Thanks again to Beau Gunderson for providing us with the top Quantified Self links mentioned on Twitter this week

Bonus Link
Gmail Thinks My Name is a Distraction by Stan James: What happens when machines start telling us what is and what isn’t important?

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What We Are Reading

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 –
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 –
Toolmaker Talk: Sampo Karjalainen (Moves) – Quantified Self

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What We Are Reading

We hope you like these links, articles, and ideas that we’ve enjoyed this week.

From Gary Wolf

Apple Gives Massive Nod to Wearable Tech in New iOS7 Update: This analysis of iOS7 changes for wearable technologies argues that the iPhone’s future as a QS hub matters more than the much hyped and hypothetical Apple Watch.

Drawing Dynamic Visualizations” [video] – Many clues here in this Bret Victor talk about the future of understanding our personal data. Be sure to check out the supplemental material on his website.

The Scientific Life: A Moral History of a Late Modern Vocation, by Steven Shapin: I’m finding this book very influential in shaping my reaction to some of the pious statements about “real science” that I encounter in discussions of the Quantified Self movement. Here’s an interview with Shapin that includes a link for the book.

From Ernesto Ramirez

Quantifying the body: monitoring and measuring health in the age of mHealth technologies: A thoughtful research article by Deborah Lupton exploring to sociocultural implications on self-tracking on health and identity.

A Timeline of Smartphone-enabled Health Devices by Mobihealthnews: A great look back at the how far the field of mHealth has come since 2009.

Lifeloggers by Memoto [video]: This short documentary explores the world of lifelogging through various interviews with experts such as Gordon Bell and Steve Mann.

A Personal API by Naveen Selvadurai: Naveen, co-founder of Foursquare, has started to open up his data in the form of an “personal API.” He’s challenged developers and the broader QS community to see what they can do with this data. Right now his API allows access to sleep, steps, weight, fuel (Nike Fuelband), and places.

We’ve also noticed two open challenges that might appeal to the QS community:

The Economist-Lumina Foundation Quantified Work Challenge: The Economist and the Lumina Foundation are asking for your thoughts on what “potential objective inputs or data and potential methods of collecting and reporting that information that organizations could use to build a personalized “skills tracker” for individual employees.”

Chart.js Personal Dashboard Challenge: Use the open source chart.js javascript visualization library to create your own charts and graphs based on your personal data.

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What We Are Reading

We hope you enjoy these links, articles and other bits of interestingness we’ve found around the web over the last few weeks.

Taking the Guesswork out of Designing for Walkability by Xiongbing Jin & Fanis Grammenos: How should we design urban environments? In this article, the authors explore using agent-based modeling to test (a priori) what urban designs positively influence walking in a community.

The Quantified Brain of a Self-Tracking Neuroscientist by Susan Young: Russell Poldrack is a neuroscientist and imaging expert at the University of Texas. He’s currently in the middle of a massive self-tracking project which includes bi-weekly brain scans (MRI).

Blood Glucose Monitor Data Pushed to Smart Watch by Mike Szczys: This short post on the excellent Hackaday site introduces us to Don, an enterprising hardware hacker and diabetic. He’s spending some time attempting to send his blood glucose monitor data to his smartwatch and writing about it here.

Photo Lifelogging: Why I’m Skeptical by Peter Lewis: We’re moving quickly into a word with millions of wearable cameras. Peter, a QS meetup organizer, expounds on this trend and what what might happen when we’re all  able “ to censor — sorry, “curate” — [our] own photo streams.”

Home Tweet Home: A House with it’s own Voice on Twitter by Rachel Metz: The Internet of Things isn’t the future, it’s already here. Read about how Tom Coates has “wired” his home for constant data tracking and communication.

Personalized Medicine vs Guideline-based Medicine by Jeffrey Goldberger & Alfred Buxton: A short, but very interesting article that begins to explain the competing ideas behind the design and implementation of personalized vs guideline-based medicine.

Blood and Stories: How Genomics is Rewriting Race, Medicine, and Human History [pdf] by Priscilla Wald: “[If] we understand the power of the stories we can better understand the debates surrounding race and genomic medicine, which, in turn, can help us make better ethical and policy decisions and be useful in the practices of science and medicine.” (submitted by Whitney Erin Boesel)

(If you’re interested in more academic papers related to self-tracking and Quantified Self please join our Mendeley Group).

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What We Are Reading

Here we are again. Another week and another great list of articles, projects, and posts. We hope you find these as interesting as we did.

Data Science of the Facebook World by Stephen Wolfram: “I’ve always been interested in people and the trajectories of their lives. But I’ve never been able to combine that with my interest in science. Until now.” Stephen Wolfram sets his mind and data crunching services and the mounds of data available through the Wolfram|Alpha Personal Analytics service.

There’s an App for That by John-Paul Flintoff:  While many people write about QS, every once in a while a piece stands out as a thoughtful and personal assessment of the meaning of self-tracking. The only major fault with the piece is the accompanying illustration which proclaims that “the overexamined life is not worth living,” a conclusion the article does not actually make.

Disciplinary Power, the Oligopticon and Rhizomatic Surveillance in Elite Sports Academies: Elite athletes and sports programs push Quantified Self tools to their extremes. This article from an academic journal about surveillance discusses the tracking mechanisms employed in elite sports academies that transform performance into a type of numerical language that contributes to new social norms, personas and senses of the self

Refugees of the Modern World by Joseph Stromberg: A common cultural signature in the world of the Quantified Self is the formation of loose-knit groups around common interests and conditions. So it was fascinating to learn of a tight-knit group that has formed around the choice of a common environment in which to live. This is the stort of a self-diagnosed group suffering from “electromagnetic hypersensitivity” who live together in an area of West Virginia in the U.S. National Radio Quiet Zone.

Body 01000010011011110110010001111001 by Stanza: Artists have been playing with connecting #quantifiedself and “smart city” technologies for several years. I think projects like this are useful for opening new channels of thought not yet constrained by utility.

Goggles Can Provide Vital Data and Distraction by Matt Ritchel: Google makers incorporate data streams into heads up displays. But why include text messages? That seems like a mistake.

Thanks  to Joshua Kauffman and Gary Wolf for contributing to this weeks post! If you’ve found something interesting be sure to send it to us and we can post it in the upcoming weeks.

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What We Are Reading

Here’s some great pieces from around the web to get your mind working and give you some insight into what we find interesting and compelling.

The Diabetes Paradox by Thomas Goetz: A fascinating look at how we can think about self-tracking from the point of view of those who may track the most: diabetics. He also offers some great insights into how to design the self-tracking experience. Be sure to check out the comments for some great discussion.

quantified-selfHow life-logging can change the way we view and express ourselves by Elia Morling: A very nice overview of lifelogging and its potential impact. I especially enjoyed the leading image (pictured here). Maybe a future cover for a Quantified Self Magazine perhaps?

Know Thyself: How Mindfulness Can Improve Self-Knowledge: A short but wonderful overview of an interesting research article by Erika Carlson that explores how mindfulness may be pathway to improving how and what we know of ourselves.

Specifically, mindfulness appears to directly address the two major barriers to self-knowledge: informational barriers (i.e., the quantity and quality of information people have about themselves) and motivational barriers (i.e., ego-protective motives that affect how people process information about themselves).

The Secret Life of Cats: What You Can Learn by Putting a GPS on Your Kitty by Alexis Madrigal: This book review and interview is fun, interesting, and touches on some very important ideas about self-tracking and technology. I’ve been ruminating on this special nugget since my initial reading:

 Technology can do many amazing things, but no GPS unit or CatCam can tell us what questions we should be asking in the first place.

Do you have any interesting articles or links? Send them our way!

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What We Are Reading

Happy Friday! Here are some fun and inspiring things we’ve been reading lately, to kick off your weekend:

What Do Kids Really Learn From Failure? by Alfie Kohn: “Research certainly doesn’t support the idea that failure or disappointment is constructive in itself… We may want kids to rebound from failure, but that doesn’t mean it’s usually going to happen — or that the experience of failure makes that desired outcome more likely.”

Should QS Researchers Protect Themselves With Disclaimers? by @measuredme: “The point of the disclaimer that I have in mind is not to restrict access to data or research… What I am really concerned about is those rare instances when our data and findings could lead to liabilities or involuntary involvement in legal disputes, due to misuse or misinterpretation.”

If Behavior Change Is Belief Change, a conversation with Buster Benson, Ernesto Ramirez, and others: “Can we forcefully change our own identities and beliefs about ourselves? Will writing something down every day have a positive (or negative??) impact on our desire to believe something different than we actually do?”

Haven’t We All Done Steroids, In A Way? by Lance Armstrong: “As people, we are united by our shared experiences. We all live, breathe, fall in love, take steroids, lie to anti-doping officials, make indignant public denials about steroids, cry, achieve dizzying levels of fame and success by continuing to use steroids, laugh. Deep down, that is how we are, and we’re stuck with it.”

Peeling Away Health Care’s Sticker Shock by Andy Grove: “The paradox of health care is that technology has driven costs higher. In fact, half of the increase in medical spending is related to the deployment of new medical technologies.”

Reasoning is Sharper in a Foreign Language by Jessica Gross: “Cognitive biases are rooted in emotional reactions, and thinking in a foreign language helps us disconnect from these emotions and make decisions in a more economically rational way.”

The Hug Timer: A Respectful Way to Guide and Show Gratitude During Discussions by Ted Eytan: “The standard techniques, the ‘time’s up,’ the ‘I’m going to be a brutal timekeeper’ lines are disrespectful bordering on angry… Language and behavior matter, especially in health. On the other hand, a hug signifies something totally different. It says, ‘I’m so glad that you came to be with us, for every second of time you’ve given to our learning.’”

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What We Are Reading

This collection of links is inspired by NPR’s #bestthingallweek hashtag on Twitter. What’s the best thing you read this week?

Behavior Change is Belief Change by Buster Benson: “Anyone that tells you that you just need to ‘walk one more bus stop every morning’ in order to be a healthier person has reversed the formula (putting the easy thing first) in order to sell it to you. In order to be a person who walks to the bus stop every morning you have to change your core identity of yourself into a ‘healthier person who walks a lot.’”

Startup = Growth by Paul Graham: “Usually successful startups happen because the founders are sufficiently different from other people that ideas few others can see seem obvious to them… We usually advise startups to pick a growth rate they think they can hit, and then just try to hit it every week.”

Why Self-Discipline Is Overrated: The (Troubling) Theory and Practice of Control from Within by Alfie Kohn: “Just because motivation is internal doesn’t mean it’s ideal. If [people] feel controlled, even from within, they’re likely to be conflicted, unhappy, and perhaps less likely to succeed (at least by meaningful criteria) at whatever they’re doing.”

Quantifying Kids, an interview with Bill Schuller: “A child’s performance in the educational system is quantified at every step of the way. The difference in what I am doing is increasing the fidelity, increasing the time horizon, drawing correlation between the data and teaching my children to look at the results and reflect on them.”

Building that Perfect Quantified Self App: Notes to Developers, Part 1 by Measured Me: “The diet logs now are not just about counting calories, but also tracking allergies and more serious ailments, and effects of ingredients on mental and physical performance, or sleep. Happiness has been already tied to location, and will soon probably be linked to the weather, quality of sleep, or activities on Facebook.”

Growth Hacking – Lean Marketing for Startups by Mattan Griffel: This is a great slide deck talking about “a set of tactics and best practices for dealing with the problem of user growth.” Thanks to Chris Hogg for finding it!

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What We Are Reading

Here is some fun and provocative Monday morning reading for you, from Gary, Alex, and Ernesto. Enjoy!

From 0 to 100 Years in 150 Seconds
An Amsterdam filmmaker collected tiny video clips of 100 people on the street from ages 0 to 100. It’s like witnessing a startling progression of human life, and motivates me (Alex) to work on solving aging!

Empowerment Through Numbers: Biomedicalization and The Quantified Self
In this interesting post from the Cyborgology blog, sociologist Whitney Erin Boesel describes some important ambiguities in the Quantified Self movement. How empowering is it, really? Whitney will be at the conference and invites comment and discussion.

Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas
This amazing book by Natasha Dow Schüll, the product of more than a decade of research, describes in detail one context where behavioral science appears to yield genuine control over human beings: the design of machine gambling systems such as video poker.

Ubicomp’s Colonial Impulse” (pdf), by Paul Dourish and Scott Mainwaring is a welcome, explicit call for those of us interested in ubiquitous computing to think about the colonialism implicit in our methods and vocabulary. I (Gary) liked it especially because it is accessible (in the sense of not being polluted by jargon or academic point-scoring) while also very challenging to conventional practice.

Reinventing Society in the Wake of Big Data (video)
MIT researcher Sandy Pentland talks about the streams of hidden data all around us -what it means for predicting trends and how it forces us to reinvent ourselves in a data-driven human society.

Men and Women Really Do See Things Differently
A fascinating study out of Brooklyn College discovered that women are better at differentiating between shades of colors, while men are better at noticing details of fast-moving things, especially at a distance. Remnants of adaptations from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle?

And just for fun, from Ernesto and Alex – check out this hug clothing!

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What We Are Reading

Nine nifty nuggets for you to read today…

Why Anti-Authoritarians are Diagnosed as Mentally Ill: The demands on medical professionals to be compliant may bias their understanding of others.

Could rosemary scent boost brain performance? Speed and accuracy were both improved, and the authors propose that positive mood may improve performance where aroused mood cannot.

Bad Habits? My Future Self Will Deal With That: An interesting look at research regarding the choices we make and how they relate to our connection with our “future self.”

How games saved my life: A powerful story of how playing Sim City pulled a teenager out of a planned suicide.

Katherine Boo and Adrian Nicole LeBlanc Both Write on Insurmountable Poverty: Two writers whose work is based on compassionate & honest witness.

Abundance is our future: In this talk from the recent TED conference, Peter Diamandis of X Prize presents an inspiring, optimistic view of solving the world’s major problems.

App Intervention to Treat Addiction (and It Runs on Android): A wrist sensor connected to a smartphone to detect physiological signs of craving and offer in-the-moment support.

The Calming Effect of Sighing: Spontaneous sighs are more stress-relieving than instructed sighs.

How Habits Hold Us: A short, but interesting look into habits and learning by insightful science journalist Jonah Lehrer.

Thanks this week to Neema Moraveji, Martin Sona, Dan Dascalescu, Daniel Reda, Ernesto Ramirez, and Gary Wolf.

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