Quantified self meetup


Narrative photo of last QS meetup (Madrid)

Two days ago, we had a quantified self meetup (Feb 16, 2016) at the Yogacenter, downtown Madrid, very nice place, we were 6 people. The main discussion was about pedometers and tracking devices/apps that measure how much you walk or how active you are and how you sleep. Two of the participants had recently bought the relatively cheap Xiaomi band, only around 15 euros. It measures steps as well as sleep quality, has an alarm clock and the battery lasts 1-2 months! It’s apparently hard to download the data or get a .csv file to a computer, but it talks to your phone and has an internal memory of about 10 days. People found it useful to measure sleep or compare sleep quality depending on several external conditions, such as room temperature (apparently it differentiates between light sleep or deep sleep). Two other people mentioned that they use activity apps on their phone but don’t pay them much attention. The most salient use was on holidays, counting steps while walking around a city, and maybe as an alter ego every once in a while, to find out how active they’ve been.

Then we had some general conversations about new things that have come out such as the Muse band, baby patches, surf watches, and the narrative camera. We also mentioned Tim Ferris’ podcasts.

I noticed that behind a lot of the conversations were two themes; 1) the effort to combine info from different sensors (walking, brain waves, glucose etc) and 2) the “qualified” self versus the quantified self. About the former, I found out about “exist.io” which is heading in the direction of developing a common operating system for different trackers. And regarding the “qualified” self, the discussion reminded me of an article I read recently by one of the QS founders, Gary Wolf, in the New York Times: The Data Driven Life (it’s a few years old, 2010, but still relevant). He writes about different people, a lot of them computer geeks, who do some serious self-quantification and develop gadgets or software. His conclusion is that QS is about finding or asking new questions, which makes it nice, since it’s not just about gadgets, but about life stories. And it’s not just cause and effect, your body as a robot, it has to do with reaching or finding more about that qualified self. Sometimes there may not even be a strict goal in mind, just collect data and see what happens and then you start to ask questions that you didn’t even know you wanted to ask.


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