Looking back to all the learning and experience I gained during the conference, three topics are figurative for me.
1. Objective measurement of subjective things
Among all this gadget heaven pouring on us, I’m getting more and more interested in measuring emotions, stress, and other subjective states. Is it possible to quantify emotion and feelings? What’t the best way to capture it?
The first keynote was right about this topic, elaborating how tracking feelings helped tackle depression. Another section I liked about this was from David M., who works on the development of sensors to measure stress. Being aware of ones stress level helps people to change their behavior in the situation, and have many practical uses already for driving, and analyzing roads. Then, I had very interesting discussions with Laurens from Snoozon, about dreaming. They have a month training program to learn lucid dreaming, which made me interested a lot, and I had put it on my wish-to-do list. It also encouraged me to continue tracking my dreams.
2. Working with what’s available
Another area that is interesting me, also for my work with clients, is working with what’s available. I get easily excited by new technologies, which often just show a new use for an already existing sensor, or create a consumer-user friendly packaging for an industrial equipment. I often realize, I can have a similar approach for myself, and already do a lot with what I already have. I just have to think about clever uses. This is also something I encourage my clients to use – instead of rushing to spend money on expensive gadgets, food-menus, premium fitness classes, several thousand USD bikes, let’s scale back with spending, and explore what can we do with the tools that we already have, and save the money for a better investment. I got many inspiration for this.
Ellis Bartholomeas showed about her project on taking pictures of every meal she ate. She used her already available smartphone, and uploaded the pictures to Flickr to group and sort. She had a tons of learning, and as unexpected outcome, she also lost 5kg weight during the project. This was a true example for me of using what’s available. Low cost, easy to do, big learning. In fact, I’m planning for myself, too, to make an experiment and see what effect it has.
I’ve seen many people using pen-and-paper, Excel, Google Calendar, and other tools to track. Some advantages of paper: dust and shock proof, high resolution, low cost, easy to search through, immediate hand-writing-recognition. Excel for many people, working in an office, is “already there”, and there are tons of great templates on the net just a google-search-away for all kinds of tracking. Google Calendar is a very easy to use tool to track stuff in pairs or in a team. I also got inspiration to install a white board and a cork-board in my home, to track a couple of things in a flexible way, it’s a thing that is “always in front of me”.
I also like a lot the service from AskMeEvery.com, it assists by sending reminders in sms or e-mail. I like in this service that it doesn’t need an iPhone (or sometimes and Android phone) to be purchased, any phone has sms, therefore works. Also, sms works also when there’s no 3G available, just reception in general (although US only).
3. Long-term consequences of being a “quantified self”
The third area that emerges for me, is actually about being a quantified self. What does it make for me, if I track, and then share it with others?
– awareness -> change: tracking is in a way hightening my awareness, which creates change in my behaviour (see just the above example of Ellis)
– inspiration: seeing the example of others triggers me to get into action, “actually, I can do that, too”
– being connected with people who share similar interest gives enriching feedback on my process
How then does this reflection spark or encourage the completion of the rest of the cycle of experience?
I just have realized, as an unexpected learning from the conference: I do track a lot of things that I was not in my awareness that I track.
And here’s this lots of data. Data mining myself? Could be a future project for myself.
Thanks for my friend Chuck for the questions that inspired this blog post.
Interested to track something about yourself? Here’s a good collection of ideas and tools by Mark M. (Apr 2013) – link .
- This is what I ate (Ellis Bartholomeas’s experiment with photos of every meal) – link.
- Conference round up (article on QS website) – link.
- Conference pictures (group on Flickr) – link.