Topic Archives: What We’re Reading
Enjoy these articles, posts, and ideas from around the web.
Articles & Posts
Eight (No Nine!) Problems With Big Data by Gary Marcus and Ernest Davis. This is a nice short piece about what “Big Data” can and cannot do. Definitely a great reference to have on hand when you’re exploring your own data, or the data of others.
Wearables Versus There-ables by Naveen Selvadurai. I always enjoy reading what Naveen is thinking about in the personal technology space. He always does a great job of explaining his rationale and this piece is no different. Are we heading towards commodity sensors and more powerful stationary sensing systems? It’s an interesting idea.
Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Dates in Excel by Kara Woo. Time and time again time/date formats show themselves to be the bane of every developer working with timestamped data. If you’re working in Excel with date dependent data this is a must read.
To quote John Machin, “In reality, there are no such things [as dates in Excel spreadsheets]. What you have are floating point numbers and pious hope.”
Sensor-Embedded Teeth for Oral Activity Recognition by Cheng-Yuan, Yen-Chang Chen, Wei-Ju Chen, Polly Huang and Hao-hua Chu. It turns out that every mouth movement you make (chewing, speaking, coughing, etc.) causes you teeth to move in different patterns. These researchers developed a small accelerometer-based sensor in an artificial tooth and were able to accurately capture different oral behaviors. A peak into our future?
Big Data and Its Exclusions by Jonas Lerman. Another “Big Data” themed essay in this weeks’ list. However this essay takes on something we’ve been hearing about more and more lately. If data is part of our future for determining public policy are there people that are missing in our datasets?
[...] big data has the potential to solidify existing inequalities and stratifications and to create new ones. It could restructure societies so that the only people who matter—quite literally the only ones who count—are those who regularly contribute to the right data flows.
How I Hacked My Best Friend’s Genome – And Could Hack Yours Too by Sharen Moelem. First, I don’t think “hack” is the right term here. I would prefer the title, “How I acquired my friend’s genetic information and had it tested.” Regardless, this short piece makes the case for understanding the legal protections, and lack thereof, of personal genetic testing.
The Change My Son Brought, Seen Through Personal Data by Nathan Yau. We’re obviously big fans of Nathan and his work at Flowing Data. This great post illustrates a few of the insights Nathan gathered about how his life has changed since his son was born.
The Qualified Self: Going Beyond Quantification by Eric Boem and Jarrett Webb. No matter what adjective you prefer use to describe “the self” this article is a great example of what we see in show&tell talks at QS meetups around the world. The authors describe how they started to understand their sleep by combining many different data sets.
Articles and Posts
Larry Page, TED, and Pooling our Medical Data by John Wilbanks. Health is a hard problem. A problem that people are using data, vast amounts of data, to help solve. This may work, but at the end of the day we have to remember that data is made of people, and those people deserve respect and privacy.
The Loneliness of the Sick Self-tracker by Jane Sarasohn-Kahn. Another great post about the current state of self-tracking and health data for the those trying to manage a chronic condition.
Patients + Providers + Technology = Engagement by Patti Brennan. In this post Patti describes her experience as director of the Project Health Design project funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and how self-tracking can power a new powerful form of observations of daily living.
Big Data Makes Invisible Air Pollution Visible by Intel Free Press. This short piece explains how community members in Portland, OR are collaborating with Intel Research to understand air pollution by deploying personal connected air sensing devices. Reminds me of the CitiSense project at the University of California, San Diego.
There’s No Such Thing as Gaining a Pound: Reconsidering the Bathroom Scale User Interface by Matthew Kay, Dan Morris, MC Shraefel, and Julie Kientz. Whether you’re using a scale, or hoping to design the next great one you owe it to yourself to read this excellent research paper. The research team examined how people actually us and think about their scales and provides a few design insights they believe could move the field forward.
The Year of the Quantified Self Revolution by Glenn Lubbert. A really wonderful piece a great member of our QS community. Glenn touches on conversations and experiences he’s had as he’s “gone down the rabbit hole” of self-tracking.
Data Scientists by Amelia Greenhall. Is our perception and use of the term “data scientist” a crack in the system? Is that a good thing? Amelia describes her experiences and what she’s thinking about this new class of employee.
You, Your Quantified Self, and all the (non) Quantified Others by Marco Van Hout. In this blog post Marco examines possible (present and future) scenarios for the self-tracking. His focus on how self-tracking and a data collection affects our communal relationships and societal norms is especially interesting.
In Defense of Google Flu Trends by Alexis Madrigal. If you’re like me you were saddened by the recent takedowns of the Google Flu Trend detection system. Data is supposed to help, right? In this article Alexis pushes past the naysayers as digs a bit deeper to find out why Flu Trends was built and how it was meant to be used. Hint – you still need people to help make sense of “big data.”
Making JSON as Simple as a Spreadsheet. I’ll be completely honest here. My programming skills end where JSON begins. Thankfully the Sunlight Foundation has developed a released a fantastic tool for people like me.
This Computer Can Tell When People Are Faking Pain by Greg Miller. First, a disclaimer. I used to work right next to the research group that developed this technology. Their research was always fun to learn about over quick coffee breaks or walks up the stairs in our building. Read this article with a bit of wonder and look for inspiration. If a computer with a camera can learn about pain and emotions how would you use it to learn about yourself?
Edward Tufte Wants You to See Better. This is a must read (or listen to) interview of Edward Tufte by Science Friday host, Flora Licthman.
I’m, at my best, on a kind of innocent and contrary posture, I think, wide-eyed, but somewhat skeptical posture.
My Personal Dashboard by Ahmet Al Balkan. I’m a big fan of self-made data dashboards. Especially when designers put them up on Githhub!
Everythign I Own by Thomas Stoller. This is just one in a series of self-tracking art projects by artist and student, Thomas Stoller. For this project Thomas took a photo of everything he owned and then resized the images to represent how much he actually uses them.
Vizual Statistix by Seth Kadish. This tumblr is an excellent source of inspirational visualizations.
Connected to the Self-Life and Re-Life by Luna Coppola. I’ve always been interested in how people use self-portraits as a form of self-tracking. This powerful photo project chronicles Luna’s experience with chronic kidney disease.
From the Forum