The personal analytics of Stephen Wolfram

Posted to Self-surveillance  |  Nathan Yau

Stephen Wolfram examines his archive of personal data from emails to keystrokes to phone calls, going all the way back to 1990. Above shows the hourly distribution of his activities.

The overall pattern is fairly clear. It’s meetings and collaborative work during the day, a dinner-time break, more meetings and collaborative work, and then in the later evening more work on my own. I have to say that looking at all this data I am struck by how shockingly regular many aspects of it are. But in general I am happy to see it. For my consistent experience has been that the more routine I can make the basic practical aspects of my life, the more I am able to be energetic—and spontaneous—about intellectual and other things.

Woflram concludes:

As personal analytics develops, it’s going to give us a whole new dimension to experiencing our lives. At first it all may seem quite nerdy (and certainly as I glance back at this blog post there’s a risk of that). But it won’t be long before it’s clear how incredibly useful it all is—and everyone will be doing it, and wondering how they could have ever gotten by before. And wishing they had started sooner, and hadn’t “lost” their earlier years.

Then again, even if you don’t actively collect data about yourself, there’s still plenty to go off of: email, mobile phone logs, text messages, calendars, etc. So I think it’s more about doing things with our existing (and growing) time capsules than it is about making sure we don’t lose things. It’ll be interesting to see what roles companies like Google, Twitter, and Facebook in providing views into our past.

[Stephen Woflram]


Top Brewery Road Trip, Routed Algorithmically

There are a lot of great craft breweries in the United States, but there is only so much time. This is the computed best way to get to the top rated breweries and how to maximize the beer tasting experience. Every journey begins with a single sip.

Jobs Charted by State and Salary

Jobs and pay can vary a lot depending on where you live, based on 2013 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Here’s an interactive to look.

Divorce Rates for Different Groups

We know when people usually get married. We know who never marries. Finally, it’s time to look at the other side: divorce and remarriage.

Life expectancy changes

The data goes back to 1960 and up to the most current estimates for 2009. Each line represents a country.