Why Annual Reporting
social life & social media
Lee Rogers has been collecting data about himself for over three years. Daily check-ins, movements, and other activities of his life are captured by automatic and passive systems and tools. What makes Lee a bit different than most is that he’s set up a personal automation system to collect and make sense of all that data. A big part of that system is creating an annual report every year that focuses on his goals and different methods to display and visualize the vast amount of information he’s collecting. In this talk, Lee explains his data collection and why he values these annual snapshots of his life.
Fitbit | foursquare
Good evening, my name is Lee Rogers and I’m going to talk a little bit about the value of kind of stepping out of your daily routine, and kind of check marking or kind of snapshoting your data so that you can make big decisions and do bigger things with that data and maybe even with your life.
I’ll tell you, like a jabber mouth for myself, 15 seconds a slide is going to be horrendous, it’s going to be terrible.
So, like many of us I collect a lot of different data, even with the great a hard drive crash of 05 I still probably have a few hundred thousand data points that I work off of. And I’m a big fan that says if you have enough data, the answers kind of present themselves; so I like a lot of data.
I get this data a lot from online data services like foursquare and Fitbit and Fickster and those kinds of things. And I use these services, because something like foursquare has a lot of rich data about venues for example so why not use those. The problem is the data is not mine. I mean, they could go out of business, they could change their terms of service, and suddenly it is like 2005 all over again. So we don’t want that.
So what I decided to do is that I also wanted to correlate the data between the various services. So for example, if I correlated my foursquare data with my movie data I could probably say, where do I see the best movies, and who do I see them with, which you can’t really do if the service is separate.
So, what I decided to do was aggregate this data down into a database that I had control over. I can do whatever I want with it. I can also, more importantly, back it up, which is probably the best thing.
To pull this data and to get the data into the database I actually have scripts that run every 10 minutes, and it goes out to these Rich APIs and RSS feeds and pulls the data down into the database in a kind of a standardized format. Then I also have manual records, so like when I am at the doctors I can record things like my blood pressure when he takes it or whatever and put it into the database.
In the end, I would have this big long list of events that I could work off of you know, hundreds of thousands or tens of thousands or whatever it is and be able to do some correlation and things like that.
So, with this data that I have what I do is I actually use it for two things. Number one, as nostalgia I do life logging and something I call Audrey Answers. But I also do quantification, which is a big thing. I am a goal driven person, so I do goal tracking and self-discovery, and of course annual reporting, which we will kind of talk about.
Life logging is interesting, and this is kind of blurry here, but I can really have a day or real live a certain thing, like this is when I was in Hong Kong I was able to relive every place I went, the pictures that I took, the steps I took, places on the map – everything by reliving that.
Also, with a simple search I can have my own website for let’s say my dog that just searches for a particular keywords, and he was a single purpose dynamic website that is just updated automatically based on that kind of information.
I do a thing called Audrey Answers, which when I have all this data I can do is ask questions like what was my cholesterol last year’s check-in or have I ever eaten at Gary Danko’s and did I like it, or did I ever see the movie Inception. All those things are easy, plus building an app to ask questions on the fly.
But the big thing I do is around quantification and goals, and goals are a little bit different for me than objectives, right goals are you want to be a better person, solve world hunger and all of these big things. But the magic is when you can translate them into real objectives. So I take the goals, and in order to be healthy I want to be able to drink more water, or if I wanted to be a better all rounded person, and I want to visit new places or do new things that I wouldn’t normally have done. But in order to get the objectives done, you’ve got to track them. So I have a daily tracker that shows a dashboard that says you know, you are on track to get the number of steps that you want, or how many glasses of water you drink or whatever. But it is very myopic and it is very trees amongst the forest right that you only see one day. So I have an annual and it will be able to show those kinds of things on an annual basis, but still kind of widespread and not necessarily helpful.
So I ran across this guy, Nicholas Felton, which some of you may know that builds annual reports every year for himself. He does it for a lot of different things, but it really resonated with me to say just stop occasionally, take all the data and do something with it, so that you can look at it and do some analysis.
So, I started building annual reports based on this man’s work. It was very interesting, because when I started in 2011 it was kind of me getting my feet wet. But one of the first things I noticed was that when you are creating a book for somebody else, that maybe they even look at you look at the data differently and analyze it in a different way than you would have before.
For example, I knew that I was drinking a fair amount of diet soda, that’s my vice, right. But when you translate that into how many gallons I was drinking a year it was like you’ve got to do something about this dude, you’re going to die. So, gallons are a big indicator to show that.
I also did, wow dude you lost 87 pounds last year great, but you gained 94, so it means you are kind of flip-flopping too much, right so that made me change my behavior and change my objectives and where you’re going.
In 2012, I started to get my stride and I did this analysis on which is a visualization on how the data is coming in through a service map and say well this is how much data I have, and where I’ve had it and how long I have. But I started doing a thing called a narrative or a story, and I take all the analysis that is there and I said okay, now tell a story about yourself and that maybe give you a snapshot of the kind of person I was in that year.
It was kind of hard because I am not a words guy, but it was kind of an interesting thing because it does give a different perspective than just raw data. Trending over time was a big thing. Obviously, but I didn’t start doing it until this year and I could could say, well let’s trend how much I am paying for bank charges and it’s going up every year; this is ridiculous and I have to make a change on this. I wouldn’t have really thought this unless you kind of snapshot it.
In 2013, I tried visualization of a word cloud, and remember the more words you use the bigger the word in the word cloud. So the 13,000 words I had in my life streaming database I did them. And if you believe that the words that you use that maybe indicate the person that you are, and maybe the things that you find important at that time you know, you will obviously see that movies, news and quotes those things were important for me in 2013.
I also started to be able to discover kind of who I was is that in 2013 I started a typical week and I said, you know, a typical week and I walked 32 miles because it’s an easy data type thing. or I went to Walgreens twice, or drank 5 gallons of diet soda.
But the big thing it comes down to goal tracking and one of the things I do is EDT, some people do that. And I found that out of the 1800 tasks I had last year, 64% of them were part of the projects I found important and actually they weren’t even part of the projects. They were just crap I was doing like I need batteries or you know whatever. So I need to focus more on this, and obviously with that checkbox I could say, well let’s do that. I’m going to go ahead and change my objectives for 2014 to focus more on these things like the number of tasks I am going to do per year or per day, and these may have to be on my priority list or whatever, those can be tracked in the dashboard so that I can hold myself accountable. Then back into maybe I could solve world hunger, or something like that.
But in the end, and I kind of encourage and continue to encourage of just stepping out and thinking it from the outside me give you a better perspective or different views on things. And I think it gives you an opportunity to think of things in a different way when you kind of stop the car and just rest and look for a minute.
So there is my contact information if you have anything else, thanks.