Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Self quantifiers


Here's a roundup of work some people are doing collecting data about themselves and blogging about it. I'm not entirely sure self-quantifying is the best idea as I can see several data-related problems (how do you really figure out many calories you've consumed? What if you decide to ignore that second handful of potato chips?) I'm not going to address the personality issues, but fortunately, someone on Brooke Gladstone's "On the Media" segment about the phenomenon stated that some people see self-quantifying as narcissism. Practitioners see it as self-improvement. Another  person on Gladstone's show said, "Data plus information compiled and organized turns into knowledge. It makes self-improvement inevitable. And I like that."

There's something of a trend becoming evident. Last month, The Atlantic published an article "The Measured Man," about the astrophysicist/computer scientist Larry Smarr's efforts to record and then exploit the data about his bodily functions. (He goes pretty far, perhaps farther than most.)

There are lots of blogs about this issue. A useful one is called "My Year of Data." It's useful because the blogger, Chris Volinsky is a statistician and because he recognizes how measuring what he's doing may change it. And he has made his data available publicly, so you can download and analyze it too.

For a how-to, you can check out the Quantified Self blog. 

And that screenshot up at the top? That's the work of Nicholas Felton, a designer. It's beautiful data visualization, and he has posted several years of it, each different.





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