Fitbit obsessed

Posted to Self-surveillance  |  Tags: ,  |  Nathan Yau

After you’ve collected data about yourself for a while, you tend to go one of two ways. You either quit completely because it’s no longer interesting, or you obsesses over your data points constantly trying to one-up yourself. David Sedaris took the latter and wrote about his experience for the New Yorker.

At the end of my first sixty-thousand-step day, I staggered home with my flashlight knowing that I’d advance to sixty-five thousand, and that there will be no end to it until my feet snap off at the ankles. Then it’ll just be my jagged bones stabbing into the soft ground. Why is it some people can manage a thing like a Fitbit, while others go off the rails and allow it to rule, and perhaps even ruin, their lives? While marching along the roadside, I often think of a TV show that I watched a few years back—”Obsessed,” it was called. One of the episodes was devoted to a woman who owned two treadmills, and walked like a hamster on a wheel from the moment she got up until she went to bed. Her family would eat dinner, and she’d observe them from her vantage point beside the table, panting as she asked her children about their day. I knew that I was supposed to scoff at this woman, to be, at the very least, entertainingly disgusted, the way I am with the people on “Hoarders,” but instead I saw something of myself in her. Of course, she did her walking on a treadmill, where it served no greater purpose. So it’s not like we’re really that much alike. Is it?

I wonder which direction people choose when they start to track their heartbeat with the Apple Watch next year. My hope is for a peaceful middle ground, but I suspect it’ll fall into the category of not-that-interesting-after-first-week.

Favorites

Reviving the Statistical Atlas of the United States with New Data

Due to budget cuts, there is no plan for an updated atlas. So I recreated the original 1870 Atlas using today’s publicly available data.

Graphical perception – learn the fundamentals first

Before you dive into the advanced stuff – like just about everything in your life – you have to learn the fundamentals before you know when you can break the rules.

Think Like a Statistician – Without the Math

I call myself a statistician, because, well, I’m a statistics graduate student. However, the most important things I’ve learned are less formal, but have proven extremely useful when working/playing with data.

One Dataset, Visualized 25 Ways

“Let the data speak” they say. But what happens when the data rambles on and on?