Numbers From Around The Web: Round 1

January 5, 2012

We got such great feedback on the orignal NFATW post that we decided to turn it into a regular feature. Every few weeks be on the lookout for new posts profiling interesting individuals and their data. If you have an interesting story or link to share leave a comment or contact the author here.

Michael Allen Smith
Michael is an avid coffee drinker and contributor to the caffeine-obsessed blog I Need Coffee. He recently wrote up a nice post about his experimentation exploring how his coffee consumption and sleep quality. Using a simple spreadsheet, Michael tracked his daily coffee intake, the time of his last coffee, chocolate consumption and sleep quality (rated 1-5 after waking). He has a nice explanation for the simplicity in his tracking methodology:

What I discovered is that the more complicated you make the tracking, the less likely you’ll maintain the data.

So what did Michael find out? After a few months of data tracking it turns out he gets the best sleep when he drinks 3 cups of coffee per day and has a coffee after 1PM.
Data from Michael's coffee experimentMichaels's coffee intake from March 24, 2011 - December 24, 2011. The red line is a 3 day moving average.

Michael also leaves us with some great parting thoughts that we can all apply as we initiate and work through our own experiments:

Look at the data and dial in the level that works best for you. […] Only you can answer these questions.

If you’re interested in coffee and caffeine, you might also enjoy this post by Robin BarooahThe False God of Coffee

Matt Danzico
Matt Danzico is a journalist (and self-described nerd) living and working in Washington DC. He took it upon himself to engage in a year-long experiment of sorts in 2011. Dubbed Time Hack, the project sought to explore the complex interplay between our actions and our perception of time.

The year-long project aims to test whether time itself is flexible and whether our brains measure time differently than the clocks around us.

While this may not seem like a strict QS self-experiment, I think it worth discussing. Time is something that everyone battles with. We want more time to do this or that, we track productivity, we keep calendars and to do lists handy at all time. Why? To conquer time of course. But what if time is relative (and not just in the Einstienian sense) and it our perception of time depends on our behavior? Matt explored this idea for a full year and has some really interesting – and quite fun – data to show for it. He actively engaged in new experiences every day and tracked his perception of time and compared it to objective measures of time (stopwatch, video, etc.). Even more interesting (in my opinion) than the measurement of time, he also recorded his perceptions of specific details that occurred during each event. I’ll highlight a few of my favorites here, but take some time and dig through his blog. It’s well worth it.

Day 345: Visit an airport dressed as a Star Wars character.

  • Estimated time: 0:49:41
  • Actual time: 0:57:55.8

Day 297: Wash clothes with a washboard.

  • Estimated time: 1:21:00
  • Actual time: 1:09:31.1

Time is a fascinating subject and I am eagerly awaiting Matt’s analysis of his year long experiment. Until then I suggest keeping yourself busy by listening to these two wonderful podcasts on time by the always interesting folks over at Radio Lab: Time and Beyond Time.

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