• Dynamic run paintings with Nike+

    August 8, 2011  |  Self-surveillance

    Nike+ run paintings in detail

    Personal data collection can be a tough sell at times, but with the Nike+, which lets you record your runs, thousands have taken part in measuring their performance and digitally racing with others. For the most recent Nike+ campaign, interactive collective YesYesNo mapped a year's worth of runs from the Nike+ site and invited people to plug in their own runs.
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  • A year of food consumption visualized

    June 29, 2011  |  Self-surveillance

    Food consumption by Lauren Manning

    My pending thesis is on personal data collection (i.e. quantified self, personal informatics, self-surveillance, or whatever you wanna call it), so there's a special place in my heart for projects with data about an individual, no matter who they are. It's like taking a peek at part of someone's journal that they've decided to make public.

    Designer and architecture student Lauren Manning has documented her life for the past two years, and for her thesis project, she visualized a subset of that data — her food consumption in 2010 — with a variety of over 40 graphics. Instead of sticking with a single, optimized view of her data, she stood back and let the data fly to see what would happen.
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  • One man’s travel patterns – Atlas of the Habitual

    May 9, 2011  |  Mapping, Self-surveillance

    Atlas of the Habitual

    FInding himself in a new town, with a new job, Tim Clark started tracking his location on August 24, 2010, and ended 200 days later on March 13, 2011. Every time he stepped out, he turned on his GPS logger, and then would tag that trip with information about what it was for or what happened. Atlas of the Habitual is the result.
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  • Life captured in data, charts, and graphs

    April 21, 2011  |  Self-surveillance

    Nice piece from NYT on seeing your life in data:

    “There’s going to continue to be innovation with new, powerful data around the plumbing of the human body,” [Jason] Jacobs said. “What everyone is starting to realize is that it’s great to collect data, but somebody needs to make sense of all of this data.”

    Personal data collection is still a geek activity, but soon it won't be. Either that, or more people will become geeks. It's like, you know, so in vogue right now.

    [New York Times via @feltron]

  • Track your daily stress and health levels with Basis

    March 29, 2011  |  Self-surveillance


    With the success of FitBit and the current wave of self-tracking, it was only a matter of time before something like Basis came out (currently for pre-order). It's the same idea as FitBit, which is a clip that tracks your movement so you can see how much you move and monitor your sleep patterns. However, instead of a clip, Basis is a watch and comes with additional sensors for heart rate, temperature, and galvanic skin response (sweat). Come near your computer and data uploads automatically via bluetooth.
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  • Data visualization meets game design to explore your digital life

    February 23, 2011  |  Self-surveillance, Visualization


    The list of one-off applications that visualize your digital life, whether it be your Twitter feed, Facebook updates, or Foursquare checkins, has been growing for a short while. Ben Cerveny and Tom Carden, both Stamen Design alumni, aim to take this idea to the next level with Bloom, with elements of game design.
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  • Mapping and documenting a year of travels

    January 12, 2011  |  Mapping, Self-surveillance

    Year of travels

    Cartographer Andy Woodruff documents all the places he goes, resulting in the pretty map above.
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  • What you do online is data

    January 6, 2011  |  Self-surveillance

    Foursquare heatmap

    Zachary Seward for the Wall Street Journal gives some thought to what he does online via applications like Twitter and Foursquare. He notes, "[I just] ended up with this wealth of data."

    Lifelogging is often attached to obsessive tickmarking in notebooks and counting things that don't need to be quantified. It keeps getting easier to collect data about yourself though, and in due time, lifelogging will feel so natural, you won't even have to think about it until you're reviewing your very own [insert name here]-tron report.

    [Wall Street Journal]

  • Gary Wolf on the quantified self

    October 7, 2010  |  Self-surveillance

    In his five-minute TED talk (below), Gary Wolf describes the quantified self and why it matters:

    The self isn't the only thing. It's not even most things. The self is just our operations center, our consciousness, our moral compass. So if we want to act more effectively in the world, we have to get to know ourselves better.

    And with personal data stuff like Nike+ and Fitbit doing well, there's clearly an interest (and a market for it). At what point though does personal data become too much?
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  • Graph and explore your Gmail inbox

    September 14, 2010  |  Online Applications, Self-surveillance

    Graph your inbox

    Your email says a lot about who you are, who you interact with, and what you're up to at any given time. Maybe it's receipts from that online travel site or notifications from Facebook. There are lots of tidbits you can extract from your inbox. But how? PhD candidate Bill Zeller provides you with Graph Your Inbox.
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  • A house that knows when you’re happy and sad

    August 30, 2010  |  Data Art, Self-surveillance

    Happylife by Auger Loizeau

    Auger Loizeau, in collaboration with Reyer Zwiggelaar and Bashar Al-Rjoub, describe their smart-home project Happylife. It monitors facial expressions and movements to estimate a family's mood, displayed via four glowing orbs on the wall, one for each member.
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  • Discuss: Why collect data about yourself?

    July 30, 2010  |  Discussion, Self-surveillance

    personal data feelings

    Personal data fascinates me. I collect data about myself mostly as a way to journal and document the present so that I can look back on it later - similar to how someone else might flip through an old photo album.

    In just about every interview I've read with Nicholas Felton, author of several personal annual reports, he's asked how the data, or rather the information from that data, has changed his behavior. For the most part, it doesn't. It's more of an interesting view into the past year for him.

    However, there are plenty of others who collect data in an effort to change their behavior in some way. They might be trying to lose weight or stay more disciplined with their exercise regimen.

    The Question

    So if you collect data about yourself, whether it be an automated system or with pen and paper, why do you do it? How long have the you been doing it? What do you track? Have you found anything interesting or surprising from your data?

    If you don't collect data, what's holding you back?

    Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

  • Poyozo the personal data gatherer

    July 7, 2010  |  Self-surveillance, Software

    Poyozo the personal data gatherer

    Take a moment and think off all the data you put other there on separate Web services. Email, photos, status updates, documents, location, contacts, and the list goes on. Many of the services are really good, but what if they went down? Where would are your data go? Or what if you could bring all that data into one place, so that you didn't have to login to Flickr, Twitter, Foursquare, and Facebook. Poyozo tries to get all your data in one place - on your own computer - and help "make life make sense."

    Poyozo gives you your own data back by downloading the information you're currently giving to the web on to your own computer. You can opt-in to importing your data from Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Last.fm, Google Calendar, any email service, any RSS feed, Flickr, Wesabe, Listit, Skydeck, Dopplr, your Firefox browsing history, the local weather, and your location, allowing you to access all of this personal data as easily as the companies that run these services can.

    Simply install the Firefox plugin, choose what services you want to scrape, and you're good to go. Poyozo then provides an API that you can use to access and query your data. Visualize it any way you want. Continue Reading

  • Quantified Nerds

    June 22, 2010  |  Self-surveillance

    The quantified self sounds great on paper. The task: keep track of important facets of your daily life. The result: gain a better understanding of your day-to-day and make better educated decisions, based on the numbers instead of false assumptions and shots in the dark. What's not to like? Everyone wants to improve his or herself in some way.

    To outsiders looking in though, tracking your life in data is ridiculous.

    Who has the time to keep track of what you eat, when you sleep, and how many times you fart in the wind? To most people, data journaling (a.k.a. self-surveillance, lifetracking, lifestreaming, personal informatics) seems like a complete waste of time, and I don't blame them — for now.
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  • Instant electric bike and data collector

    May 26, 2010  |  Data Sharing, Self-surveillance

    When you ride your bicycle around, I bet you always wish for two things. First: "I wish this was electric so that I didn't have to pedal so much." Second: "I wish I could use my bicycle as a data collection device." Well guess what. Your dreams have come true. The Copenhagen Wheel, conceived by the MIT SENSEable City Lab, will do just that. With everything rolled up into one hub, a quick and simple installation turns your plain old bicycle into an electric data collection device.
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  • The (nerdy) data-driven life

    May 3, 2010  |  Self-surveillance

    Gary Wolf, of Wired and The Quantified Self, describes personal data collection and analysis in NYT magazine. Collect data about yourself, and you just might learn something.

    Humans make errors. We make errors of fact and errors of judgment. We have blind spots in our field of vision and gaps in our stream of attention. Sometimes we can’t even answer the simplest questions. Where was I last week at this time? How long have I had this pain in my knee? How much money do I typically spend in a day? These weaknesses put us at a disadvantage. We make decisions with partial information. We are forced to steer by guesswork. We go with our gut.

    That is, some of us do. Others use data.

    It all sounds great at first. But the story ends, as these types of stories almost always do, with a guy in a Google shirt walking around with one too many gadgets:

    Bo Adler, a young computer scientist at Fujitsu Laboratories of America, is one of the most committed self-trackers I’ve ever met: during his most active phase he wore a blood-pressure cuff, pulse oximeter and accelerometer all day long, along with a computer on a harness to collect the data. Adler has sleep apnea, and he is trying to figure it out. When he became too self-conscious going to the gym in his gear, he wore a Google T-shirt to throw people off. Maybe he was a freak, but at least people could mistake him for a millionaire freak.

    We data folk stick to our guns though:

    “My girlfriend thinks I’m the weird person when I wear all these devices,” Bo Adler says. “She sees me as an oddity, but I say no, soon everybody is going to be doing this, and you won’t even notice.”

    So proud. You tell 'em, Bo Adler. You tell 'em.

  • Clothing color palette

    April 20, 2010  |  Data Art, Self-surveillance

    Jacobo Zanella makes a color palette every day, based on the clothes he's wearing.

    I observe the colors of the shoes and clothes I wear that day, how much skin is exposed, etc., and reproduce that observation digitally, through RGB combinations. No software or programming is involved in the making of the graphs.

    String them all together, and you've got multi-colors on top (shirts), a lot of black and blue towards the bottom (pants), and whites and grays all the way on the bottom (shoes).

    Too bad he's not logging it programmatically. That could be an interesting view (well, for him).

  • Visualize your Last.fm listening patterns with LastHistory

    March 3, 2010  |  Self-surveillance, Software


    Frederik Seiffert provides this nifty tool, LastHistory, to visualize your Last.fm listening history. Mouse over songs and find repeated track sequences. The visualization itself isn't all that useful, but it gets interesting when you hook your calendar and photos in with music. LastHistory lets you replay songs synched with your photos, and your slideshow suddenly gains a new dimension.
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  • Track Mouse Activity On Your Computer

    February 9, 2010  |  Network Visualization, Self-surveillance

    Anatoly Zenkov provides this nifty tool (Mac and PC) to track your mouse pointer. Really simple. Just start it, let it run, minimize the window, and carry on as usual. In the end, you get this image that looks something like a Pollock. Circles show areas where the pointer didn't move while the tracks show movement.
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  • Nebul.us Shows You Your Activity on the Web

    December 8, 2009  |  Online Applications, Self-surveillance

    Nebul.us is an online application, currently in private beta, that aggregates and visualizes your online activity. Enter your information for Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, etc and install a plugin in Firefox to record your browsing behavior. Get something that looks like the above, sort of a donut-polar area chart hybrid. Nebul.us calls it a cloud.
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Unless otherwise noted, graphics and words by me are licensed under Creative Commons BY-NC. Contact original authors for everything else.