This past Thursday, I randomly stumbled into a conversation hosted by Ernesto Ramirez of QuantifiedSelf.com. Apparently, it’s hosted every Thursday at 6 PM PST on Twitter when you follow the hashtag #qschat and has very thoughtful discussion and dialogue from those on the forefront of the quantified self movement or those who are generally interested in it.
It follows a pretty loose format where Ernesto (or a Quantified Self rep) asks a few questions and anyone following the hashtag can answer, ask questions to each other and to @quantifiedself to learn more about the trends and issues related to anything quantifying.
Here are the 3 questions asked, along with my own responses
(You can follow the conversation and take a look what’s going on yourself by following or searching for the hashtag #qschat)
Q1: What do you prefer, passive or active tracking? In what situation is each good or bad?
My answer: I don’t think it’s a question of “good” or “bad”. It really depends. In my opinion, ideally there should be both, as neither method is 100% accurate. However you can get closer to painting the entire picture when you can do both passive and active tracking because more consistent and “clean” data can yield more insight. An analogy would be Google Analytics – if it only tracked visitors between the hours of 12 AM – 8 PM, what happens from 8:01 PM to 11:59 PM? There could be a lot of critical information that’s left out that you wouldn’t be able to glean any insight from.
Q2: What is the self tracking project you WISH you could do?
I’m fascinated with the idea of our ever changing location and where we take ourselves on a day to day basis, who we meet, at what time etc. With the advent of Foursquare, Google Latitude and other location based apps, it made me ask myself, “How cool would it be if I was to track my movements via GPS on my smartphone and created a video on it?”
So yeah, I’d love to be able to create a story about myself on where I’ve been for an entire year or some sort of timeline that’s a mashup of all my check-in data from Foursquare, Path, Facebook to Google Maps and Google Earth and My Tracks.
A crowd-sourced nutrition tracking app would be cool as well. Where you could snap a photo of food you’re eating, and you’d be able to pull in nutritional data, and it would be able to log that data for you automatically. I believe one of DailyBurn’s apps had a database of food, but the user experience was a bit clunky and cumbersome to log your data. Also, it’s food database wasn’t as comprehensive when it came to ethnic foods or off the wall foods.
Q3: Will you ever stop tracking?
No, I would never stop tracking. This stems from an obsession and desire to collect as much data on myself in order to glean insights to incrementally improve on whatever “Area of Improvement” I’m focusing on. I love data, as it never lies (so as long as you’re honest with your data collection process : )
Apart from the questions asked, some answers that I felt were thought provoking are highlighted below
Answers to Q2:
@acarmichael: I wish blood testing were more passive and continuous. Constant data streaming to my phone.
@quantifiedself (Ernesto Ramirez): I‘ll share my project wish: trying to better understand my production and consumption behaviors and what causes each.
Answer to Q3:
@drclausen: tracking should be towards a goal. I will always track, but what I track and why is a pragmatic decision.