A Life Of Fractals
social life & social media
In 2014, Justin Timmer started tracking himself using a wearable and afterwards an app. Justin actively tracks about 69 variables on a daily basis and has completed a total of 22 experiments on himself. In this video, he talks about the frailty of his life and why he tracks these variables. He wants to know if there are deeper patterns of reasoning behind his life-logging and self-tracking experiments.
I’m Justin. I’m going to talk about the fractality of my life. This is my favorite vegetable. I don’t like the taste but I just like how it looks.
Just before this talk I just want to say that I track 12 minutes a day actively and passively a bit more but I just want you to know that I’m not lost in infinity and at the end of the talk you might know what I meant by that.
In 2014 I started tracking myself using a wearable and afterwards an app, and I’ve been stacking up a lot of variables over the years and in total I track like 69 variables on a daily basis actively. And I did like 22 experiments and now it’s time for me to ask why do I track the things I track. How did I come to this massive amount of data that I seem to find interesting.
So I track a lot of things. I have a sleep diary, an afternoon diary, an evening diary where I track a lot of things subjectively and also with hours. Also I have devices as well and many others that I used.
So this is a graph over time and you can see every line is a variable, and you can see it’s stacking up. When I start to track something I hardly stopped tracking it. It’s like three, four or five times that I stop tracking a variable and it just starts stacking up.
And I try to categorize them and I find that I could categorize them like physical variables like heartrate, and activities like work hours or sleep hours and subjective experiences, and situational.
And I found that I mostly I track subjective experiences so like larger concepts like stress, loneliness, happiness, and activities as well because they were like easy to track and physiological also a few.
So for me it seemed that subjective experiences were kind of important for me. But after they lacked some kind of comparability, so what I wanted to do was like have an holistic model. And therefore these subjective things like sleep, sleep quality, productivity I want to keep them but it’s hard to track sometimes. So for example, what makes you feel physical actively.
So I wanted to give that a rating from one to 10, but there’s a lot of sub variables like intensity, activity before you can even give that physical activity experience a rating, so usually I don’t have time to track all of these sub variables. But sometimes I’m quiet curious to think like what is subjective health. For example, how is my subjectivity based on which variables, so I try to do that to explain my perception of health? So I thought of other variable that were explaining that. And I just found that nutrition was a large one for me. I looked at food and drinks and vegetables and there were like 16 kinds of fruits of sub variables. So I tried to I tried to do that over a few different larger concepts, and you can see how it’s stacking up and stuff. So in theory you have a lot of variables beneath the variables beneath it.
So for example, you can look at productivity like stress and you just look at it and think that’s easy just five things. If you look at it you find many more things and in some fractals you can even go in dimensions within it and you can even find more variables. And there’s also like physical parameters like how do you measure your body, how do you measure your brain, or your hormones or your heart. And also for the situational things like where are you. That matter a lot as well, like I’m travelling, I’m at work, and where am I at work, and where am I at home, and where I am on holiday, because it seems to matter a lot.
So I found these dimensions inside dimensions and then I came to this concept that looks a lot like a fractal. And on the side of the fractal and the theory of a fractal it’s infinitely long and it’s some kind of self-repeating process with various sub-branches. And I found a lot in my Quantified Self experiments as well. Because every time I got an answer to a question I thought like well, there’s some new questions in it, and new sub-variables and I get more detailed variables. And I also found like things next to it.
So I think these different activities like physiological and situational, also make together one fractal that makes my life and my subjective experience.
So now I’m just wondering are these things like activities situational and physiological side branches, are these everything or are there more like memory and thoughts. So in my tracking process I’ve been trying to get to all the details in my life, but also try to keep a more purposeful and like one branch for what is my life about.
So one part is going up like why am I living? Is to be happy, it has to have meaning, flow, and what does that consist of and why am I living. And on the other side it’s like going down like what makes me happy? Like sleep makes me happy, but how does sleep make me happy, how does productivity make me happy or meaningful, purposefulness.
And on the flipside, like going sideways, am I missing things? Like are there things next to happiness and meaning, and flow that I didn’t think of before. So that was the answer to my question, because of my questions on all the sides the variables were stacking up. On one side I just try to go up and make one live model and the other one is where I started to go down to find all the different detail variables.
So seeing my life as a fractal, as an ongoing infinite process, really opened my eyes to see that self-research is kind of infinite, but if you like focus your personal things you learn a lot. Then I thought, well, these fractals come back everywhere in life, so business is cloud, street things, conversations, cities. And the most thing I learned actually that my brain is actually a fractal structure and that’s where I want to end my talk and thank you.