Topic Archives: What We’re 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!
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.
Seven Sunday snippets to stimulate your synapses…
Zap your brain into the zone: Fast track to pure focus. Can hooking up your brain to a battery induce a state of flow? New Scientist explores this question.
The “Unhyped” New Areas in Internet and Mobile: A dozen predictions by investor Vinod Khosla of where disruptive new technologies will emerge. Mentions Quantified Self, for all you amazing QS toolmakers!
We, the Web Kids by Piotr Czerski: An essay on what is means to be part of the generation that grew up with the web as an omnipresent part of their lives. Touches on ideas of information, creation, and democracy. A great read.
Quantified Health Prize results: We didn’t catch this earlier, but Less Wrong did a contest asking “What are the best recommendations for what quantities adults (ages 20-60) should take the important dietary minerals in, and what are the costs and benefits of various amounts?” The winner explored potassium and sodium, and they will be running another contest soon.
The Patient of the Future: A look into Larry Smarr’s quantified self journey and possible future of truly personalized medicine.
Light Therapy for Seasonal and Nonseasonal Depression: Efficacy, Protocol, Safety, and Side Effects. (PDF) A very interesting review of light therapy for different flavors of depression, including SAD, bipolar, and major depression. Interestingly, it covers both dosage and *timing* of light administered.
Thanks to Ernesto, Gary, Daniel Reda and Simon Frid.
Here’s some good Sunday reading from your friends at QS!
Kickstarter & Double Fine: A Seismic Shift? The detailed story of a game development project raising over $500,000 through Kickstarter.
Avoid misinterpreting your emotions. A beautiful post from Less Wrong about emotional intelligence – mood is weather, not climate, and can give us important insight if approached correctly.
Zeo Sleep Experiments. A really, really thorough examination by Gwern of sleep tracking and experiments using the Zeo.
9 Essential Skills Kids Should Learn. Leo Babauta’s post on Zen Habits sounds like a great recipe for raising the next generation of self-experimenters. They’re not bad skills for adults to learn, either.
The age of big data. An interesting article about the rise of data and statistics.
How Dr. Hew Len healed a ward of mentally ill criminals with Ho’oponopono. An amazing story of healing yourself in order to heal others. I love you, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you.
Thanks to Gary, Ernesto, Daniel Reda, and Ioan Mitrea.
Here’s some weekend reading, without the eye-straining bullet points this week! Thanks to Kevin Kelly, Gary Wolf, Ernesto Ramirez, Rajiv Mehta, and Daniel Reda.
Your Body Is an API: 9 Gadgets for Tracking Health and Fitness. Includes our Basis friends and other gadgets from CES.
Lifestream blog’s summary of the CES experience, including new health and fitness gadgets.
Harnessing experience: exploring the gap between evidence-based medicine and clinical practice. This fascinating paper describes the inevitable gap between “evidence based medicine” and actual clinical practice, and proposes an interesting idea, “evidence farming,” that acknowledges the range of available evidence beyond randomized controlled trials.
Ten years after its first publication, Welcome to Cancerland by Barbara Ehrenreich still has the power to explode your brain.
The Creative Destruction of Medicine by Eric Topol. We’ve been looking forward to this one.
DIY science: should you try this at home? Somewhat alarmist but also lets the DIYers speak for themselves.
Fighting Willpower’s Catch-22: makes a good case for setting up your environment to avoid temptations.
Self-Regulation and Depletion of Limited Resources: Does Self-Control Resemble a Muscle? A great article that argues for flexing our cognitive muscle.
The Servant Leader and the Social Enterprise: “the only person to lead a people-first organization is a servant, because a servant’s natural inclination is service to others — not coercion — for the purpose of others’ growth, health, wisdom, freedom, autonomy, and benefit, and for that reason, in the future, the only truly viable institutions will be those that are predominantly servant-led.”
Does mood sharing make a difference? A very interesting set of comments from Moodscope users on sharing mood. Reading through them reveals interesting issues people have with sharing, like not wanting to burden others, feeling incentivized to fudge the data to seem better than it is, getting support they wouldn’t have found otherwise, and forming very close bonds.
Here is this week’s QS reading list. Hope you enjoy:
- Ken Snyder’s surprising Magnesium survey results of 146 QS’ers (PDF on his site).
- A new Harvard Business Review piece on approaches to translate self quantification to business.
- Ariel Garten’s TEDx Toronto talk: Know thyself, with a brain scanner.
- iDreamSaver project on KickStarter: an interesting product using infrared technology to track sleep and wake you up intelligently.
- Embracing Personal Experience on Our Rise Through Science: an inspiring and thoughtful piece about what it means to be scientist.
- Century of the Self (BBC documentary): A journey through the history of the Self, from happiness machines to crowd manipulation to the policemen in our heads.
Thanks to Ernesto Ramirez, Ed Dench, and James Wilson. If you’re reading something interesting you want to share, submit it to us here.
Happy weekend, everyone! Here’s a smattering of inspiring things we’ve been reading at QS Labs this week:
- Seth Roberts’ series of posts on Vitamin D3 and sleep. The lesson: what time you take your supplements could matter a lot.
- Transforming behavior change from the Social Brain Project at the RSA (UK): Some really interesting insights into behavior change and the role of neuroscience and reflexivity.
- The latest issue of Bruce Schneier’s always interesting Crypto-Gram newsletter, with fascinating accounts of data breaches and hacking attacks, personal data vulnerabilities, and – for a bonus – an intelligent call to get rid of the United States’s Department of Homeland Security.
- Schedule your creative tasks for when you’re most tired – a thought-provoking look at a circadian effect on creativity.
- An opinion piece on the Research Works Act, the piece of legislation that threatens to roll back public access to federally funded research.
- Smart Geotextiles for ground and building monitoring (from our friend David Pescovitz at BoingBoing.)
- Transistors developed to monitor molecular processes - listening to enzymes. QS is moving to the molecular level!
- Psychotropic Medications Affecting Biological Rhythms. (PDF) Looking at mood disorders and medications in the context of circadian rhythms as well as shorter and longer cycles will play an increasing role in good medical practice. This has applications to other health issues as well, and will require increasing self-awareness of empowered patients.
Here is another taste of what we’re reading at QS Labs. Hope you enjoy!
- A thought-provoking post from Less Wrong on Pleasure vs. Desire, or why we want things we don’t like and like things we don’t want.
- J Paul Neeley’s pretty amazing story of optimizing many areas of his life, and turning his discoveries into a project called Masamichi Souzou.
- A 9-step, very QS approach to managing your money and achieving financial independence. It emphasizes tracking without judgment, increasing awareness, setting intentions – all good QS principles. [PDF here]
- The best data visualization projects of 2011, from our friends at Flowing Data.
- Nicholas Feltron’s annual report [podcast].
- Navigating love and autism – an insightful story in the New York Times exploring emotion and communication in a background of neurodiversity.
- Tim Hartford on Trial and Error - a great TED talk on the importance of experimentation.
- An interesting research article outlining “what works” for physical activity and diet behavior change – self tracking is #1! [PDF here]
- A template and explanation of a daily mood tracking chart based on the National Institute for Mental Health’s prospective Life Chart Method for bipolar disorder. [PDF]
Here are some juicy links to what we’re reading at QS Labs, from the minds of Gary, Alex, and Ernesto this week:
- Foucault Goes to Weight Watchers, by Cressida J. Hayes: Here’s an extended philosophical/academic exploration of one person’s experience in a popular commercial weight loss program. [PDF]
- FBI, here I am! by Hasan Elani: A story of a muslim artist who created a massive public self-tracking project in response to FBI questioning. [TED talk]
- Want A Piece Of Founders Fund’s Latest $625M Fund? Start By Trying To Change The World by Alexia Tsotsis: A piece that describes Founder’s Fund goal to invest in ideas that fundamentally improve human life.
- Uncommon Therapy: the Psychiatric Techniques of Milton H. Erickson by Jay Haley. [book, recommended by two QS'ers at the recent QS Europe conference]
- Famed Investor Esther Dyson Knows How To Make Big Bucks About What’s Coming Next. So What’s Next? by Boonsri Dickinson: A discussion of Esther Dyson’s investments in the Quantified Self space.
- How I Went From Writing 2,000 Words a Day to 10,000 Words a Day by Rachel Aaron: The story of an author who used tracking to increase her productivity.
- Greg Beato’s piece on the Quantified Self in Reason: “We treat even our most mundane lunches as if they were corpses at a crime scene.”
- The Information Diet by Clay Johnson: Free first chapter of this new book, to be published in January, emphasizing conscious consumption of information.
- Recording Everything: Brookings report on the authoritarian consequences of tracking.
- Reading the Riots: The power of asking direct questions. “What did you do, Why did you do it?” Researchers interview hundreds charged in London riots. [video]
Here’s another compelling compilation of what we’re reading at QS Labs:
- Minding Your Mitochondria by Dr. Terry Wahls (TED talk): Astounding talk by a woman who used dietary self-experimentation to reverse her MS progression.
- A Review of B. F. Skinner’s Verbal Behavior by Noam Chomsky: Chomsky dissects Skinner’s work, concluding that it is “largely mythology, and that its widespread acceptance is not the result of empirical support, persuasive reasoning, or the absence of a plausible alternative.”
- A Prospective Study of Diet Quality and Mental Health in Adolescents by Felice Jacka et. al. (PLoS): A study of 3,000 teenagers in Australia showing that diet quality directly impacts mental health, and not the other way around.
- To Sleep on the Subway, Maybe, but to Dream? Poor Chance by Christine Haughney (NYT): A little experiment to determine whether one could get useful sleep riding the NYC subway.
- Emotional Literacy: Intelligence With a Heart by Claude Steiner. This free ebook goes through 17 stages of emotional literacy, which seem transformative if incorporated into any kind of communication, relationship, or business.
- You and Your Research by Richard Hamming: This is a transcript of a talk from Paul Graham’s blog explaining how one goes about doing great research.
- Computer More Accurate Than Human Doctor at Breast Cancer Diagnosis (research out of Stanford): A new “computational pathologist” has been developed that trains itself on existing cancer samples and can “diagnose and prognose new cancer patients with better accuracy than a human doctor.”
- Hyposafe.com: a subdermal EEG that detects brain wave changes in response to low blood sugar.
- An Evolution Toward A Programmable World by Larry Smarr (NYT): One vision, perhaps too conservative, of how the world of sensors and computing power will look in a decade.
- Difference Engine: Luddite Legacy (Economist): Another vision of the future – will we really have 40% unemployment within a decade?
- Almost 100 free courses on the brain and cognitive sciences through MIT’s OpenCourseWare, from social psychology to human cognition.
Thanks to Ernesto Ramirez, Rajiv Mehta, Adam Dole, Daniel Reda, and Joel Dudley for contributing to this week’s list!