Scaling the QS Movement by Larry Smarr
February 3, 2016
From the Quantified Self Public Health Symposium.
Larry Smarr’s major contributions to scientific progress are well known. A physicist and the founding director of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), he helped bring the power of computing to scientific research at a time when computers will still highly specialized instruments. Today he is the Director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), one of the most innovative research institutes in the world.
He’s also an avid self-tracker, using his own data to correctly self-diagnose the onset of Crohn’s disease. At the 2015 Quantified Self Public Health Symposium, Larry spontaneously launched the meeting with a description of what it was like to be at NCSA in the early 90’s when his student Mark Andreessen, the creator of the first popular Web browser, could review every new website in the world by hand. “We could keep up with that little bit of the exponential.” Larry asked us to consider that a similar experience of scaling lies ahead of us in the Quantified Self movement. What happens at the birth of new technologies and new fields of knowledge, when very early participants get to know each other and reflect together on what values and uses will be encoded in our tools, can influence developments that affect hundreds of millions of people.