QS conference: Slowing down time with a life log

talk2_qseu15    talk3

Answering questions at the end of my QS talk, and the “listening crowd” (Amsterdam, Friday 18th, 2015)

Hello all. Last week at this time I was on my way (with my wife and baby) to Amsterdam to participate in the Quantified Self Conference (#QSEU15 or http://qseu.quantifiedself.com/). On Thursday September 17th we made it to the Casa400 Hotel where there has a small meeting of QS meetup organizers. There I also met Andreas Schreiber, from Cologne, who later told us about overcoming a stroke, very interesting story and Alberto Frigo, who was setting up the panels for this MinorData show (http://www.minordata.org/). The conference started in earnest the following day, Friday 18th, and yours truly gave a talk on my experience with using the narrative camera and my log book. I described a small experiment where I randomly chose 10 days from this year and analysed my log book notes and narrative photos from those days. I then wrote down what those things made me think of (free writing) and analysed the types of words I used in the descriptions. I explain it all better in the talk, which should be put on vimeo by the organizers soon. Below I include the script for the slides (what I read) and you can see the slide on slideshare, http://bit.ly/1jd0Rvb

Transcript from Show and tell talk, Session 3 – Friday, September 18th, 2015, 11:30 AM

  1. good morning, my name is morris and I’m going to talk about a self-experiment and what i’ve learned from using my narrative camera along with using my log book
  2. I bought the camera in the start up phase and have been wearing it since April 2014. Normally I wear it everyday, on my shirt, for an average of 10 hours a day.
  3. Since the camera takes a picture automatically every 30 s, I get 120 images an hour, or 1200 a day. Its been 605 days since I recevied it, so I have more than 700 000 photos.
  4. I also keep a journal or what I like to call a log book, where I write down my activities during the day and what I read about. I’ve been doing this for about 5 years now.
  5. In the notebook I estimate that I write about 4 words per line, times 38 lines per page, 60 pages per book, and 179 books, means more than 1.5 million words written in total.
  6. I bought the camera to see if it could help with my log book, to catch more parts of my daily life. I also wondered if it would make me slack off and write less in my notebook.
  7. I download the narrative photos to my laptop, and look at the photos maybe once a week. In general they help to remind me of things to do, and stimulate writing exercises.
  8. I look at my log book every hour almost. It allows me to see how I spend my time, how to structure it better and categorise different events and promotes metacognition.
  9. I keep an excel file of the main events in my log book and the number of events has remained farily stable over the years, both before and after using the narrative.
  10. So my log book activity has not really changed. My next question was, what kind of thoughts are elicited from the photos and logs, do they affect how I experience time?
  11. To test this, I chose 10 days at random from this year using random.org and looked at all the narrative photos from each day and all my notes written in the log book.
  12. So, during 10 consecutive days in August I went through all of the photos and notes taken on these days and then I wrote down what ever came to my mind.
  13. So these are some photos from June the 18th, me at work, me in the car, the inside part of my freezer door at lunch time, me with my baby son Liam in the afternoon.
  14. And this would be an example of the log book notes taken on the same day with different tasks, to do’s a record of specific events like meetings or phone calls.
  15. This is one example of the results of free writing about the photos (here) and the notes (here). The whole writing process took around 20 minutes for each day.
  16. Then I classified the different words I wrote down for each device and found out that they fit into one of these four categories, so I set up an excel file.
  17. Here is a graph of the word frequencies in each category using the data from the narrative camera. So most of the photos stir up thoughts of people and actions that day.
  18. Most of the words that I wrote down when looking at the log book on the 10 random days were about actions, with much less mention of objects,  people and locations.
  19. The narrative captures more people and objects, and I noticed that, compared to my log book, that increase in people is from brief encounters, normally less than 20 min.
  20. So I realized I could classify past events into brief encounters, which I estimate are less than 20 min, activities that take about one hour, and others that are longer.
  21. Each of these time frames is mapped by a different device. In the log book I tend to condense my events and mostly write about actions within a time frame of 20-60 min.
  22. But the fleeting moments and the more constant background environment are kept by the camera, and mostly forgotten by my mind, part of the unconscious self.
  23. Regarding word categories, the events that I mostly write about in my notebook, are mostly about actions, and less about people, locations or objects.
  24. While the categories of words I use to describe those short moments are mostly related to people and much less with specific actions, it is picking up different things.
  25. And the categories of words I use to describe the longer events, are mostly related to locations and objects that surround me but that I hardly write about in my log book.
  26. So what I’ve done really is taken this data and divided it up into discrete moments and that has given me the impression of having lived more time, or of time slowing down.
  27. As a result, in the case of people for example, the notebook helps me to recall the 60 minute people, and the narrative photos recall the more fleeting ones.
  28. This is a picture taken by a falling narrative, which is a good metaphor for how I used to see time, a mix of the past and present and anxiety about the future, all mixed.
  29. On any given day, with the help of the notebook, i can recall a few more things, but those are still only a narrow range, and seem to be defined by a narrow time range.
  30. While looking at the narrative, I can see more distinct events on any given day, things that I forget, and that gives me the impression that each day lasts a little longer.

APRIL 2016, the video of my talk is now available on vimeo: https://vimeo.com/152595574


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