I have been to the Quantified Self conference in Amsterdam during the weekend 11-12 May 2013. It was a great time to connect with like minded people, have fun, and learn. I came away with lots of new ideas, energy, inspiration. FastMovingTargets have made interviews with some of the participants, and I also had the chance for a talk.
- What’s evoked in you?
- What’s missing?
- What is your advice for me?
Interview summary: “Leonieke Daalder (Fast Moving Targets) interviews Oliver Kozak, he is from Hungary and is living in Austria. He tracks dreams, makes a daily review of 5 things he likes, tracks food and travels among other things. “The joy is learning about myself.” Oliver coaches individuals to help them live healthy lifestyles. “Tracking has an enormous impact on people. It makes you more aware.””
If you cannot watch the video embedded here, you can open it in youtube in an external window (and do hit like on youtube): http://youtu.be/aqJtghO_Dk8 .
Background info on Quantified Self:
The Quantified Self is a movement in which people use self-tracking either with technology, or other means, and come together to share the learning. The usual template for presentation is answering these three questions:
What did you do?
How did you do it?
What did you learn?
So, in a way, it is about “me-me-me”, in line with the name, “self”, but as the knowledge is shared, it’s a community value, too. (See the QS wikipedia article for more “defintion” style info, or explore the QS website.)
As for myself, my QS equipment a Nokia N8 phone (from Oct 2010), and an average Windows laptop, and kitchen and body scales, and a cheap heart rate monitor. So, I use less of the latest 100-500 Euro sensors and technologies. It’s not that I wouldn’t like to, as I worked for years as an R&D engineer and love working with and developing new technologies, but I have other priorities in my personal budget for the time being. I think the most advanced of my QS equipment is my Omron body scale, which can measure Body Fat %, which I bought it for around 30 Euro (~40 USD) on amazon.co.uk. Otherwise, I track on paper booklets, wall calendars, notebooks, Excel, Word. I’m still ‘low tech’ in a way, in the sense that I still didn’t buy an iPhone, an iPad or other tablet.
This is also because I like to explore what is possible with “what’s available”, as I discovered, self-tracking is not about buying new expensive gadgets (though that is a motivation for many, to play with new gadgets), but doing it. You can also view the QS as the community who explores, challenges, and evaluates the latest technologies, methods, tools for self tracking, and feeds back the learning to the public knowledge. They are OK to spend time, energy and money on trying out new things, and happy to experiment with themselves, and deal with the risk that includes the possible “well, actually, this didn’t work”. Because, sometimes it turns out that it was too much time, energy, or money spent, and the learning was not that interesting. But most of the time, the learning is very valuable.
For me, the QS movement in a lot of ways is also about living healthier, which I particularly like about it. I learned from the presentations that many people live healthier due to tracking, either intentionally or not. Somehow, tracking itself, and/or seeing the data brings awareness to one’s system, which creates change (phenomena a well described by Gestalt).
- A measured life (an article in MIT Technology Review, Jan 2011) – link.
- There’s an app for that – can self monitoring tools make a difference? – link.
- Wikipedia article: The Quantified Self – link.
- How a QS meeting looks like (FAQ) – link.
- QS Amsterdam 2013 conference round up (summary at the QS home page) – link.