Tag Archives: Twitter

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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Fun With Sparktweets

It’s no secret we love data here at Quantified Self, but we also love seeing how people interact with data. We’ve explored many of those interactions here and we’re always on the lookout for new and different ways people communicate their data and the insights therein.  A few weeks ago we wrote up a short “how to” post describing a recent phenomenon on Twitter – sparktweets. It didn’t take too long before we started seeing the Quantified Self community using these new “data words.”

We couldn’t stop thinking about sparktweets. What kind of data could you communicate in 140 characters? What would people do if it was easier to make a sparktweet? So we asked out friend Stan James to help us out and our Sparktweet Tool was born. Since then we’ve seen some great tweets roll though our feed, and we would love to see more. Need some inspiration? Here’s a few we really enjoyed:

What kind of conversation can you start with you data? Head on over to our Sparktweet Tool then make sure to add a link to your tweet in the comments or add to our conversation on the forum.

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How To Make A Sparktweet

Update: Want to make your own Sparktweet? We made a simple tool that you can use. Check it out here!

I was stumbling around Twitter the other day when I was confronted with something new and different:

Apparently that little data representation is not all that new and different. Way back in 2010 Alex Kerin figured out that Twitter was accepting unicode and decide to play around and see if it could represent data. Lo and behold it could and a SparkTweet was born:

Before we get into how you too can start populating your Twitter feed and Facebook (I checked and it worked there as well) with representations of your own Quantified Self data let’s dive into some history.

The data visualization theorist and pioneer, Edward Tufte, is primarily responsible for the widespread use of sparklines. In his wonderful his book, Beautiful Evidence, Tufte describes sparklines as

a small intense, simple, word-sized graphic with typographic resolution. Sparklines mean that graphics are no longer cartoonish special occasions with captions and boxes, but rather sparkline graphic can be everywhere a word or number can be: embedded in a sentence, table, headline, map, spreadsheet, graphic.

In another wonderful book, The Visual Display of Quantitative InformationTufte describes sparklines as “datawords: data-intense, design-simple, word-sized graphics.“ Of course, those of us in the QS community are deeply interested not only in data, but also in how data operates in society, what is means as a cultural artifact that is discussed and exchanged in language both written and verbal. This interest iswhat initially  piqued my curiosity.  The movement of data and a dataword distributed among text and publicly expressed in a tweet. I can’t help but wonder, what does this mean for how we think about and express data about our world?*

How To

Update:Thanks to our QS friend, Stan James, you can now make Sparktweets right here on Quantifiedself.com. Just head over to our Sparktweet Tool page and start making your own “data words.”

If you want display quantitative data in your Twitter stream it shouldn’t take you all that long to get started. Lucky for us Alex Kerin has provided a nifty little Excel workbook that will generate the unicode that can be pasted into your tweet. Just download this workbook and follow the simple instructions! Soon you’ll be able to send out tweets just like this:

For those of you with a bit more technical skill Zack Holman has made a very neat command line tool that will quickly generate the unicode for sparklines.

Now you’re ready and able to go forth and tweet your data! If you use a sparktweet to express your Quantified Self data be sure to let us know in the comments or tweet at us with #sparktweet and/or #quantifiedself.

*Of course the use of sparktweets is not without controversy in the world of data visualization. For more discussion on sparktweets and their utility I suggest you start here.

 

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#qschat Number 1

On Tuesday March 12, Nick Dawson asked if there was a Quantified Self Twitter Chat. Lots of interest followed so we decided to make it happen. We had the very first #qschat twitter chat last Thursday and it was a lot of fun. I learned a lot about what people are thinking and doing in the Quantified Self space and in their daily lives. I’ve included some highlights from the chat below, but you can always just search Twitter for #qschat for the full list of tweets.

We’re going to try our best to make this happen every Thursday night at 6PM PST. Just follow the Quantified Self Twitter account to join in!

Our three questions for tonight (3/22/12) will be:

  1. What is one thing you’ve learned from your self-tracking and Quantified Self practice?
  2. Have you ever shared your experiments and results with anyone? If so how did it go. If not, why not?
  3. Health is an obvious Quantified Self area of interest. What other areas have you applied, or want to apply, Quantified Self to?

Again, join us at 6 PM PST to talk about these three questions and more!

Read more to see some selected tweets from our first chat last Thursday!
Continue reading

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How I wasted two years on Twitter, all because I wasn’t tracking

Between 2007 and 2009 I spent a ton of time in Twitter before it finally hit me that 1) the net improvement to my life was zilch, and 2) had I thought of it going in as an experiment, I would have quit a long time ago and freed up energy for more effective efforts. Of course social media tools can provide plenty of value, but, as Alex said, Social media is an addictive time suck.

How do we go about measuring the value of Twitter? Business calls it ROI, but I think of it as simply what you hope to get out of it. The key is deciding why you’re using it. In my case I was dabbling, which is a fine motivation, as long as it’s done experimentally. After all, how many discoveries came from just getting curious and trying out something new? But here I should have set a time limit, and I’d still want to have something quantified, even it it’s as soft as “perceived value.”

But for more specific uses, coming up with measures is important. Are you trying to get more customers? Do you want to hear from people who can give you ideas for your product or book? Or maybe it’s more of a social pulse use – keeping in touch. Some metrics are straightforward, such as # inquiries about your business, or number of tweets from others that made you smile. However, I think a major challenge is latency – the time delay between action on your part and resulting effects seen in your life. For example, it might be months before you hear from someone who’s been silently reading your tweets. Maybe in those cases we could make the measure more direct by asking them explicitly what the impact is. I’m not sure.

While I didn’t treat using Twitter as an experiment per se, I managed a few times to use Twitter itself as a platform for experimentation. Continue reading

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Denis Harscoat on Quantter

Denis Harscoat is the founder of Quantter and co-organizer of the London Quantified Self group and the new Paris QS group. He and co-founder Francis Dierick noticed people quantifying their activites on Twitter, and created a simple way to gather this data together. In the video below, Denis takes us on a tour of Quantter – leveraging Twitter hashtags to help people track their daily activities, receive motivating cheers from their friends, and help them reach their goals. Quantter is also a proud sponsor of the Quantified Self Conference in May, so you can meet Denis and Francis there! (Filmed at the Amsterdam Quantified Self meetup held at Mediamatic).

Denis Harscoat – Quantter from Quantified Self Amsterdam on Vimeo.

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NodeXL maps of tweets about Quantified Self

This is a guest post from Marc Smith, an expert on analyzing social media networks. Thanks Marc!

I am very interested in the Quantified Self conference to be held in Mountain View, California, May 28 and 29.  While I have attended just a few of the in-person meet-ups, which were engaging and intriguing events, I have followed the blog and tweet stream closely.  These events feature short presentations about practices, prototypes, and products that record information about our own behavior and activity.  It is great to hear that, as the meet-ups grew to become very large, a conference has been scheduled to accommodate the demand and growing interest in the intersection of sensors and other devices with medical and personal self-monitoring.  I plan to attend.  Using a variety of devices, our lives can now create detailed inscriptions that illuminate our behavior and patterns with novel clarity and detail.  (See: http://quantifiedself.com/conference/)

Quantifying the “Quantified Self” discussion in Twitter: Here is a map of the connections among the people who recently tweeted the string “quantified self“.

20110120-NodeXL-Twitter-Quantified Self Graph Highlighted Most Between User with tooltip

This is the list of the most “between” users in this network:
20110120-NodeXL-Twitter-Quantified Self Graph Top Between List

The most between participants in this graph are: @quantifiedself, @egadenne, @harscoat, @genomera, @neufit, @jxa, @agaricus, @emergentorder, @bulletproofexec, @2healthguru.

The topics discussed in the quantifiedself tweet stream can be rendered as a network graph based on words that co-occur:
20110120-NodeXL-Twitter-Quantified Self High Between Keyword Co-occurance Network Graph

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Kiel Gilleade on The Body Blogger

From the London QS Show&Tell meetup group: Kiel Gilleade talks about his experiences with tracking his heart rate 24×7 and sharing it in real-time via the Internet. More information about the project can be found at Kiel’s Physiological Computing Site and at his BodyBlogger Twitter stream. Watch the video below to hear Kiel talk about the interesting social ramifications of continuous heart rate tracking, and what he has learned about alcohol, sleep, and stress.

The Body Blogger – Physiology in a Public Space from Kiel Gilleade on Vimeo.

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7 Secrets to Maximize Social Media with Minimal Time

Social media is an addictive time suck. We know that, but we still spend almost a quarter of our time on social networking sites. Can this be optimized? Can we get most of the benefits of Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn without such a time cost?
People have increasingly been asking me these questions, so I decided to put together a list of my top secrets to social media savvy.
If you have a message to spread about your project and you want to reach a big audience without twittering yourself into a stupor, this list is for you. #7 is the most important one, so make sure to read all the way to the end.

Continue reading

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Who Publicly Tweets Body Weight Using Withings?

On of the most well known QS devices is the Withings WiFi body scale. Automatically transmitting weight to a computer or mobile phone, the scale is a good example of a solid, mainstream approach to self-tracking. But I was curious recently to see how many people are taking advantage of the ability to publicly tweet their body weight. The number is not very large; normally just a few every hour, a few hundred in total, assuming most people measure their weight once per day. Certainly a small fraction of Withings users.  English tweets dominate, but German and Japanese tweets are also common.

withings.comTwitterSearch.jpeg
QS friends know that I’ve been ranting lately against the notion that the only reason people will do anything is because they want to improve their visibility in a social network. The viral spread of Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare have convinced some otherwise smart people I know that nobody will do anything that is not “social.”

This means that one of the most important features of a wireless scale is easy, automatic public tweeting of your weight. It makes a good story, but as far as I can tell it is not very real,  even among early adopters. I bother to point this out because the focus on public exposure of personal data obscures some of the reasons people actually do want to track themselves using convenient tools that stream data to computers and phones. They want this information not to share publicly, but for themselves, and perhaps for a small number of others who comprise their private network of close support.

Personal data has tremendous personal value. In aggregate, and anonymized, it is important for science and public health. But the theory that personal data, outside of sports and gaming, is a type of social currency is still waiting for some evidence to back it up.

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