How does self-tracking work? Why do people do it? And why should we care? My thoughts on a digital trend that might help change the world for the better using technology (sensors + mobile + social media + gamification).
Are you a quantified self? Let’s see . . . Have you ever written in a diary or journal?
Have you ever taken a photo exactly like this?
Do you know what this symbol is?
Or maybe you’ve used one of these mobile apps to keep track of how much water you drink, how far you’ve run, or what you’ve eaten?WaterloggedRunKeeperLowCarb Diet Assistant
Or even worn one of these to track your physical activity or sleep?
If so, you’re probably taking part in the movement called The Quantified Self. Essentially, The Quantified Self is the pairing of technology and self-improvement to form the best you that you can be.
Are any of these scenarios familiar? These are some of the reasons people turn to the Quantified Self movement.
What kinds of technologies are we talking about?Data collectionMobile tech (not just smartphones, but things that go with you)Social mediaGamification
First, you need data. There are two main ways to collect data. One way is to manually entering information into a system (e.g., a paper diary, a mobile app, a website). Another way is to use a sensor, which is a more passive way to collect data. Sensors can be wearable (e.g, an armband), embedded (e.g., a gyroscope inside your iPhone), or attached (e.g., a tag stuck to your toilet lid). What kind of data do people collect?Photos of foodInstances when a toilet lid is left upBlood pressure readingsHow long you brushed your teeth
Here are some other examples of data one might collect in the quest to improve one’s life.
Once you’ve got data, the next step is to view it and analyze it. Visualizations might include longitudinal trends (trends over time), cause and effect, correlations, and maps. Seeing the facts on your computer makes them difficult to ignore.Aaron Parecki, co-creator of location platform Geoloqi, has collected his location every few seconds for over three years. He put his data on a map.
Sleep-wake graph of Danielle Carrick’s week, May 1st, 2012http://thesocietypages.org/graphicsociology/2012/07/15/visualizing-the-quantified-self/
Square Meal by Mimi Chun.
Bad hair based on meterological factors. http://mimiochun.see.me/aw2011
Once you’ve got data, the next step is to view it and analyze it. Visualizations might include longitudinal trends (trends over time), cause and effect, correlations, and maps. Seeing the facts on your computer makes them difficult to ignore.
The usefulness of your data is maximized when you share it with others. If you’re trying to change or maintain a behavior, being accountable to others can be motivating. Sharing your activities with others also encourages social support, another key motivator to stick with a change.http://bud.ge/tour
We’re endlessly fascinated with ourselves. But data about an individual isn’t just useful to that individual. When data is aggregated it can help you to learn how you fit into a larger picture or help everyone participating understand what’s happening at a larger level.http://www.slideshare.net/RockHealth/rock-report-sensors-9962927
Why not turn your data into a game? You might compete against yourself or alongside friends. Gamification can make life more fun by adding rewards. It can also help you optimize by providing real-time feedback.
In sum, The Quantified Self movement is about collecting personal behavior data with emerging technologies and then analyzing it in ways that can help you be the best possible version of yourself. It can also be used to turn life into a fun competition with social support.
Who is part of this movement? All kinds of folks. Athletes, techies, patients, and people who just want to improve themselves.
The Quantified Self offers a way to help people play real life better. And by doing so, influence behavior change for good on a societal level.
Quantified Self: How digital technologies can help change behaviors (and maybe even change the world)
You’re doing something right, and want to Something is wrong make sure youand you want to fix it. continue to do things right.You want to compareyour performance or You need support to experiences with stay motivated. others.
Data entry Sensors • Mobile apps • Wearable • Websites • Embedded • AttachedPhotograph your meals Track your lid Monitor blood pressure Track your brushing The Eatery GreenGoose Withings Beam Brush
Browser Call log Dog walks history EnergyEmails sent GPS/location consumptionKeystrokes Mood Music playsScreen time Sex Spending
If you are trying to break a habit or change your life, socializing (publishing) your data improves efficacyFriends bear witness and provide support You’re held accountable
Data can be aggregated You learn about yourself inrelation to othersWe all learn moreabout the world
Data Visualizations Analysis Data-Tracking QuantifiedPersonal Self TechnologiesBehavior Motivation Gamification & Support
patients • chronic conditions athletes • pregnant women • smokers in quit process personal-tech evangelists development and hackers junkies Who?
Help consumers understand how a • Illustrate how a lipstick color affects aproduct impacts their woman’s mood lives Better target consumers with • Show ads for high end running shoes toappropriate products consumers who run more than 2 miles a day and messaging Reward consumers • Encourage biking to work: reduces carbonfor behaviors that are emissions, improves individual health, and good for society and sells more cycling equipment good for business • Track and illustrate the benefits of regularImprove the nation’s blood pressure monitoring, which leads to a health decrease in heart attacks and strokes
Help people And by doingplay real life so change the better world