April Zero and Me
sports & fitness
Anand Sharma runs a company called Gyroscope and they use data to tell stories. In 2014, he ran into a problem making sense of all the data he was collecting. He started thinking about his data and how he wanted to use it to understand himself, optimize what he cared about, and help him tell the story of his life through data. So he launched a website, April Zero, where it lets him publicly expose his data and insights. In this talk, he explains what led him to build it and what he learned along the way by publicly sharing his data.
23andMe | Nike app
Hi everyone, I’m Anand Sharma and I run a company called Gyroscope and we use data to tell stories. Today I want to tell you a few stories about myself using my data about my life.
And so the first one is about running, so who here’s a runner, raise your hand. All right, so if you asked me like a couple of years ago I would definitely not raise my hand. The most I could go was maybe a mile. I wasn’t that into it, and then a few tools like the Nike app and that totally changed my outlook on that, and I got really motivated. And I actually ended up building this dashboard to track all my health and running is in the middle and there’s all these other related things I was trying to optimize.
So everything from my heart rate to my blood levels I wanted to try and get as good as possible and figure out what are all the things that are holding me back. So why is my leg cramping, what is this vitamin D that I’m missing that I could help and then also looking deeper into my genes.
So this is my 23andme report which says I have no fast switch muscle fibers which means I’m not going to be a good runner and also I have no pain sensitivity so that means I’ll probably injure myself.
And then I looked back at my data and actually when I looked back later I realized this was true. So then I would go on these long runs and then if you look at the one afterwards I was like go totally go away slower and get injured. And so looking at that I realized, hey I need to stop doing that if I’m going to get better.
And there’s lots of different stories we can tell from this data.
So this is a run I did a month ago when I was in New York, and depending on how you look at it there’s all these different things, whether it’s the music you’re listening to, or what route you took, or how many donuts that would be equivalent to, there’s lots of stories to be told.
And so I started posting these publically on my website, lots of people were visiting it, and there are some surprising things. People actually started emailing me. if I didn’t run for a week, I’d get a bunch of emails like, hey, stop being lazy, do you want to go while I’m in town? And that was really helpful, but there’s also a dark side to it which was you can see this gap here was when I launched my site. And before that it was green and I was like pretty good pace. And after that I think I started showing off a bit, because all these people were checking it out and I kept injuring myself. So I learned that I need to not do that and still pace myself.
This was another run I did with a friend of mine last month and basically start from my house and ran to the beach.
And basically working on Gyroscope and different ways to share and visualize this. Whether you share and add photos and just kind of finding all the stories in this kind of data.
And so pretty much everything I’ve done over the last year is online right now, and you can go check out this timeline of my life. And that was just like an experiment I did but there’s a few interesting things. One is it’s all designed to be totally automatic, and so I use this app called Moves, which pretty much runs passively and a bunch of other data sources, and I’ve been working on combining those into one timeline.
And so the most interesting thing for me was it feels a lot like if any of you have read Harry Potter, Dumbledore has this thing called the Pansy and you put your memories in there and you can go back in there and like explore them and see what’s up. And for me this ended up being a very similar experience even though I wasn’t intending to do that, where if I asked you where you were a year ago today, what you were doing you’d have no idea probably. I definitely don’t know.
But if I look at this I can see like exactly where I was, what I was doing, what my GitHub commits were, where I was, what my heart rate was and that’s like enough to really jog that memory. And so this day I remember clearly just after looking at this.
But mostly I just spend a lot of time like just working, and I don’t like go running 24/7, and so I wanted to look deeper into those stories and see what that’s like.
So this is the beginning of this year. It was a pretty special week. It was when we launched Gyroscope to our first two customers. Anyone here any Gyroscope users?
Cool, well this is kind of when we first made that happen, and so there’s a bunch of graphs, stats and stuff, but the most interesting one is what you do on your computer. So this is powered by Rescue Time, GitHub and a few others. And here, even the lack of data tells a story. So this is when I was asleep, so I would be up until about 4AM, then sleep for a bit and wake up at noon, and keep going which is kind of how that got done.
But on the other side if you look over that same time period, this is my weight. I wish this was a revenue graph, that would be awesome but this is my weight going up slowly over the last year as I’ve been working more and more. And so now I’m more consciously trying to get that back down.
So you can follow me on Twitter at April Zero and our website is gyroscope.be, thanks.