A review of my 2020 resolutions

Ian Forrester selfie with a mask
The new normal, mask, umbrella and coat

2020 has been one heck of a year for me and pretty much every single person on earth. The Covid19 pandemic effected so many peoples lives from people dying to people having to operate around nationwide lock downs. People I know have had covid19 and a couple people are still suffering with the long covid19. From memory no one I know has died but I’m not certain.

The thing about the pandemic is its like background radiation. Its always there and it affects everything. Even if its small things.

Then in the middle of everything the police in American murdered a bunch of black people and the whole thing was captured.  May 2020, was a turning point for many, finally we could talk about systematic racism and people were listening. Not to say they did a lot about it but in some places the light was shone and people finally understood what it means to be an anti-racist.

George Floyd 7 months later
Remembering George floyd on xmas night

So with all that how was my year from the  Quantified Self data  point of view?

  • My average sleep duration has increased from 7 hrs 20mins to 7hours 50mins.  Average deep sleep was 4.03 hrs now its 4.35hrs.
  • This year I started moving away from Gmail, so the numbers make sense. I had 32,601 conversations, have 20718 emails in my inbox and sent 7841 emails this year.
  • Have 114,564 photos and 4,269 photos albums in Google photos.
  • Tasks wise I have 304 open tasks and completed 3,315 over the year
  • Been on all of 6 trips including Manchester, Warrington, Lancaster, London, Alton towers, Blackpool this year.
  • According to Trakt, my most played show is Dave and film was Tenet, Most listened to podcast is the Daily Tech News Show.
  • I spent 742 hours watching films (61.8hrs a month) and 1221 hours watching TV series (101.8hrs a month) – that is a lot, but understandable with being locked down.

Diabolo whip

Here’s my review of  my new years resolutions from 2019.

  1. Head further a field with the scooter
    Even with Covid19, there was a brief chance to go on holiday to the Netherlands in August. I had planned to take the scooter across from either Hull or Felixstowe. I checked out the pricing got the emergency kit, arranged my stay with a friend in the Netherlands. But then Greater Manchester went into a tier where leaving become problematic. I push on but then suddenly the Netherlands become a country when I could need to isolate for 14 days after returning. At that point I decided its all too much.
    Its a shame as I also considered Ireland too but the season had changed and didn’t fancy driving in Ireland in the rain.
  2. Visit another new country
    This never happened for obvious Covid19 reasons. Maybe next year will be better?
  3. Make some changes to the flat
    Lots of changes to the flat, from a new desk, a network attached storage, reconfiguration of some basic things. I still have a number of tasks related to this to go through for 2021.
  4. Host film nights at mine
    This didn’t happen for obvious Covid19 reasons. Although my bubble might break this somewhat.
  5. Spend less time in the UK / Live in a new country
    Yeah Covid19 killed this but who knows what might happen next year
  6. Find the others and connect them
    This has started to happen, but theres more work needed on this front.
  7. Play a new sport somewhat regularly
    Another Covid19 killer, but I did spend a lot of time with the Diabolo.
  8. Drink more fizzy water
    This happened, maybe too much and I had to stop drinking copious amounts of fizzy water late at night. I’m not drinking so much that I needed a subscription but I’m getting through a bottle of gas every 3 weeks?
  9.  Look after myself better
    I believe this one happen starting with my focus on my sleep patterns. Being able to make that decision about working later has made a massive difference to the quality of my sleep, even with the background humm of the pandemic.
  10. Be even more aware of the environment and what I can do to help
    This believe it or not had happened, from spending much more time sorting out what I can recycle. Tesco also have been delivering my shopping with bags so been using them for many things for recycling.
  11. Put my money/resources where my values are, with platforms like Patreon
    This happened, I signed up to Pateon as there is a number of podcasts I regularly enjoy and gave them small amounts of hard cash to help support them. I also donated time and some money to other places like anti-racist, feminist, neurodiverse organisations.
  12. Change my email signature with important information
    Done, my signature now includes my pronoun, my user manual and status. I keep thinking about adding my free/busy time but don’t really like the fact google calendar reveals your email address when doing so.

Public Spaces, Private Data: can we build a better internet?

Public value

Back last year when we could go to conferences and festivals without fear of the covd19 pandemic. BBC R&D, Mozilla and Publicspaces put on a conference during the Mozilla Festival week.

It was a great conference but unfortunately it never was written up. Its a real shame but you can understand with all the build up to the coming pandemic. So I thought it would be worth writing something short at least because it was enjoyable and full of great speakers.

We started with a keynote from Rachel Coldicutt – Doteveryone – previously CEO of Doteveryone

Rachel talked about the importance of public value, what’s at stake if we leave it to the market and the notion of just enough internet, which I mentioned previously. It was great keynote and really kicked off the day of panel talks in the right manor. Its still a shame doteveryone is no more.

Session One – Public-Controlled Data

Public-Controlled Data panel

Rhianne started the session with a look at the new forms of value work in R&D before Jeni and Katja followed in discussion with a look at the challenges facing the industry in which public controlled data can be ethically and unethically used.

Session Two – Equal Access for Everyone

Equal Access for Everyone panel

Bill kicked off the conversation looking at the important issue of inequality with Laura and Isobel looking at it from their points of view. All very enlightening with the different views coming together into we can all do better.

Session Three – A Healthy Digital Public Sphere

A Healthy Digital Public Sphere panel

Solana started things with a look at what makes up the internet heath report with Miles and Tim talking about the looking further and deep into what we mean by healthy and society

Session Four – Public Service Networking

Public Service Networking panel

Paulien kicked off the last session with a look at Publicspaces,net and their projects including the badges project. Ira followed up by exploring the notion of publicservice networking through the Redecentralize organisation. Alexandra then followed with her experience looking at the internet of things with a more ethical lens.

The whole event was very well attended and served as good follow on from the previous year. So what about this year? Well as you know Mozilla have moved the festival to Amsterdam but the pandemic has shifted things to a mainly virtual festival next year in March. Plans are a foot to follow up with something in collaboration with Publicspaces.

Bill thanks everyone

Join the Mozilla Festival’s neurodiversity space in 2021

Calling all

Artists, Illustrators, Film makers, Musicians, Technologies, Writers, Educators and Community organisers using a neurodiversity lens in your works.

Last year the Neurodiversity space was brand new and it was a fantastic space full of good sessions.

The deadline is Monday 23rd November and Mozfest as mentioned previously, this year will be a hybrid conference but mainly online.

Get your sessions in now.

Mozfest’s call for participation 2021

Mozilla festival

Its been one heck of the year and to be frank 2021 is going to be pandemic driven too. While we all try and find our way in the new normal. Its worth looking at things which have delighted us all.

One of those for me is the Mozilla Festival which usually falls on October half-term. It would have been this week starting with Mozhouse and ending on Mozfest on the weekend, if it was still in London and there wasn’t a world wide pandemic of course.

With all that happening and not going to massively change come early next year. Mozfest will be mainly a virtual festival over 2 weeks in March. Being a community festival its time for the call for proposals.

Anyone can submit a session – you don’t need any particular expertise, just a great project or idea and the desire to collaborate and learn from festival participants. Since it’s online this year, we’re especially eager to see session proposals from those that haven’t been able to attend in year’s past due to travel restrictions.

If you or someone you know is interested in leading a session at MozFest this year, you can submit your session ideahere! The deadline is November 23.

So what you waiting for? Get in there…

Mozfest 2019

Lets make the Mozilla festival 2021, the most diverse, inclusive and incredible festival of the internet ever!

 

I’m part of the NGI forward advisory board

NGI forward

I wasn’t quite sure when I could announce my advisory role in the NGI forward. But I was excited when chosen and accepted a few months ago.

What is the Next Generation Internet forward?

NGI Forward is a 3-year project under the Next Generation Internet (NGI) initiative, which commenced in January 2019. NGI Forward is tasked with helping the European Commission set out a strategy, as well as a policy and research agenda for the years ahead.

To build an internet that is more democratic, inclusive and resilient, we need to not just create an ambitious vision for the future, but also identify the concrete technologies and solutions we need to get us there. To do this, NGI Forward’s work focuses on four key areas of activity, which together will form the “engine” of the project: the identification of key topics, consultation, policy and research, and stakeholder engagement.

You can start to understand why the excitement and the honour of being asked to advise of this great initiative.

The project is being run by Nesta who are also part of a lot of other great initiatives like the decode project.

Nesta leads NGI Forward, the strategy and policy arm of the European Commission’s flagship Next Generation Internet initiative, which seeks to build a more democratic, inclusive, resilient, sustainable and trustworthy internet by 2030.

This work requires the support and guidance of a broad community of experts and practitioners, and to help us achieve this we are excited to announce the establishment of our Advisory Board. Our Advisory Board members have been chosen to help us have the biggest impact we possibly can by connecting us with new networks, guiding our ideas and giving critical feedback on our plans.

NGI policy summit

I have a lot more to share in the near future but I also wanted to make sure people interested in a more democratic, inclusive and resilient Internet are also aware of NESTA’s Next Generation Internet: Policy Summit which is 28th– 29th September 2020 and is free to register.

What is your vision for the future of the internet? Very pleased to support and attend the , organised by the EU Commission, @NGI4EU and @Iamsterdam – register at: https://summit.ngi.eu/ Europe can create a better future for the internet! If you want to get involved, join my colleagues from @NGIForward and @Iamsterdam at the on 28-29 September. Register for free at https://summit.ngi.eu/

My New Years Resolutions 2020

Profile pic 2019

Its been 12 years since I’ve been blogging my new years resolutions and I’m still going.

Following my review of last year… here’s my New Years Resolutions for 2020; which follows on from 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010.2009, 2008 ones.

    1. Head further a field with the scooter
      Missed this last year, so its high time for a ride into Europe. I have plans to stay with a friend in Rotterdam then drive around and maybe into Belgium & Germany for some coasting. However, more importantly if the secondment was to go ahead. I’d highly likely drive my scooter in the Netherlands.
    2. Visit another new country
      Fitting with the previous one. Luckily last year, I finally got to Italy for the first time, but that was pure chance I think. There’s a lot of places I need to go including Norway, Switzerland, Austria, Croatia, etc in Europe. One thing I’m doing for sure is South Korea & Japan (again) in April with my partner this time.
    3. Make some changes to the flat
      As mentioned previously, I have bought a few bits for the bedroom including a new desk. I bought a lot of my furniture when I first moved in and its time for a few changes now I’m much more settled in.
    4. Host film nights at mine
      I have my new projector, the surround sound system and even the popcorn machine to go with it, so its time to actively do some film nights. For real this time!
    5. Spend less time in the UK / Live in a new country
      As mentioned previously I’m putting together a strong case to move to Amsterdam for a year. Unlike previously its not just because of Brexit. There is a unique opportunity under the BBC to bring together other public focused organisations for a wider “public service centric network.
      This also fits with my previous resolutions around being a stronger advocate for New forms of Value/Public Service Internet/Team Human; and even more with find the others. Making this a reality is going to be difficult but if it works out its going to be amazing for many reasons I can only imagine right now.
    6. Find the others and connect them
      Directly related to the previous one. I mentioned in my 2019 new year resolutions about . Its not so much team human per-say but a more non-perfect human outlook on the world. There was something which Eric Nehrlich wrote a long while ago. Find the others, its been echoed by Douglas Rushkoff here and here.
    7. Play a new sport somewhat regularly
      I love Volleyball and could play it over and over again, but I know people around me don’t dig it as much. So I’ll try a new sport as long as its not Football, Rugby or Cricket. Mainly to bridge between people around me who may like to play something different. Currently Badminton, Basketball or Netballl are looking most likely. However with moving to the Netherlands,Korfball and Handball (which I played in the past) could be new options?
    8. Drink more fizzy water
      I have fallen love with carbonated water. Maybe its the amount of time I spent in Berlin but regardless its great stuff and much more healthy than most of the stuff I use to drink. I decided to invest in a SodaStream after seeing the amount of plastic water bottles I was recycling. This year I’m going drink a lot more carbonated at work, home, out and about. Its 25% health related and 75% because cold fizzy water is just the best!
    9.  Look after myself better
      I’m going to start walking more, I noticed how many more steps I do when going for coffee with colleagues at work. Parking in the multistory and walking to work actually adds another 1500 steps daily. Manchester is pretty walk-able and public transport is pretty good to be honest. I’m still waiting for the UK transport laws to change to allow things like electric scooters. This also fits with my drink more water one.
    10. Be even more aware of the environment and what I can do to help
      Following the fizzy water one too, I’m far more concerned by our lack of ability to recycle and reuse what we have around us. We recently had compost bins in our flats which were emptied into one large compost for the recycling. However if one person misused the compost, the compost would not be emptied and was left rotting. As you can imagine over 200 apartments, that compost wasn’t emptied for weeks.
      So I’m going to see what else can be done from my end. Maybe theres somewhere else I can drop my compost? Maybe there is something else which could be done? Who knows but its worth explore.
    11. Put my money/resources where my values are, with platforms like Patreon
      Theres a lot of things I like reading and listening to and its about time I started supporting their use and development through systems like Patreon. A few years ago I finally kickstarted the Pebble 2 smartwatch, till that point I never joined Kickstarter. In an ideal world, they would gain support through the public service network but we are a long way from that in certain countries. One example I keep thinking about is the Guardian which have lots of options for payment and will take anything to support journalistic freedom.
    12. Change my email signature with important information
      I’ve been thinking about adding pronouns to my different things for a while. I have already added them to my mastodon profile and will slowly add them to other profile information where I can.
      Theres been a lot of talk about work life balance and self care recently and I agree with lots of it whats been said. But I also would add a level of self awareness can really be useful if possible; to this end I’m going start he-himby publishing a user manual for myself, which will be linked to in my email signature and elsewhere. Outlining all the meta things which can’t fit into a signature.

A review of my 2019 resolutions

Me with birthday ballons

2019 has been quite challenging for me and I know many others!

Looking from the Quantified Self point of view

  • My sleep deficit over the whole year has massively decreased to 36 mins,   My average sleep this year has been 7 hours 20mins (down from 2018). Average deep sleep has been 4.03 hrs now only 48% of my sleep.
  • According to Gmail I have had 54,325 conversations, have 33345 emails in my inbox and sent 7241 emails this year
  • Have 111,540 photos and 3,971 photos albums in Google photos.
  • Tasks wise I have 267 open tasks and completed 2,876 over the year
  • Been on 52 trips including Manchester, Edinburgh, London, Bristol, Guernsey, Madrid, Amsterdam, Venice (first time in Italy), Berlin, Helsinki, Brussels, Ghent, Antwerp, Nottingham, The Hague, Bath, Newcastle this year.
  • According to Trakt, my most played show is Supergirl and film was John wick 3, Most listened to podcast is the Daily Tech News Show.
  • I spent 655 hours watching films (16.2 a month) and 300 hours watching TV series (37.5 a month)
  • This year I started a gratitude diary which now has 7,303 words

Regardless of the data he’s the review of my new years resolutions from 2019.

  1. Head further a field with the scooter
    Again I missed this one and its very unlikely this will happen before the UK leaves Europe.  Theres still an idea of visiting my  friend in Rotterdam then drive around and maybe into Belgium & Germany. But this may change massively if I move to Amsterdam?
  2. Ride a roller coaster in yet another country
    This also didn’t happen this year, although I did go to Madrid again and ride lots of coasters in the scorching 41c sun. Also I decided to give the rollercoaster park in Helsinki a miss this year. Next year I’ll be in looking out for coasters in other countries including South Korea.
  3. Look after myself better
    Didn’t do so badly but theres a lot of room for improvement. I do a lot of walking when away from home but Volleyball isn’t as intense as it use to be due to not being in the team now.
  4. Spend more time in the UK
    This happened I think and my partner agrees.
  5. Enter the bake off at work
    This is a yes, I baked some banana bread with chilli chocolate inside and it was very nice except when I took it to work things didn’t quite turn out as expected.  But I did get six peoples vote and there’s photos of the caroline reaper chocolate volcano cake here.
  6. Explore more about the brain using neuroscience
    This needs some work, as I didn’t go to any events this year at all from memory.
  7. Do more with my Estonian e-residency
    I did extended my e-residency another 2 years and I do use it as ID when entering some physical businesses. Its not quite what I was thinking about but it slightly counts. I did also look into using it as another form authentication for some services and finally setup a email address for it.
  8. Explore the future of decentralised and distributed systems
    I spent a weekend at IndieWebCampBerlin and the following days at Republica19. It was quite an amazing and my follow up to R&D with a lunch time lecture with this presentation.
  9. Make some changes to the flat
    I finally started by finally removing the filing cabinet to the local dump, getting a large Billy bookcase in my partners new car (with the roof down in the Manchester rain). I bought a sitting and standing desk which is smaller but yet to put it up due to having the existing one still in place. I didn’t realise my Jerker desk is over 20 years old! I’ll be offering it on ebay in the new year if anyone is keen to have it?
  10. Host film nights and more dinner parties at mine
    This needs to happen in 2020, I had a couple of evening with my new projector, but nowhere what I was hoping for. My partner and friend had not seen Inception so we had fun with that one evening. Another friend suggested she had never seen Kill Bill, so that could be a back to back session with the projector and surround sound system.
    When it comes to the dinner parties front, theres been a bit. Likely the best was the chocolate tasting party which was great.
  11. Work on the dating book
    Since Hannah offered her copy editing skills to help make it a real book, I have done what I can. She suggested ghost writing the book and we have agreed thats a way forward. When I last spoke about the book, I saw 11+ chapters of my previously badly written nonsense, rewritten and re-imagined. Its going to be amazing!
  12. Be a stronger advocate for Team Human
    This is summing up so much of 2019 for me. Not only in daily life but in work. Its appeared in presentations, in talks I’ve given and the way I go about things. Ok its not really about team human but new forms of value or rather. Its one of the reasons why I’m considering a secondment.

Latest Pacemaker mix: The Amsterdam speedy hop mix

Its my first travel abroad trip of 2019 and of course that means anther pacemaker device mix while up in the air. unfortunately it was a round trip to Amsterdam in the same day. No real time to relax but it beat missing the last third of TedXManchester 2019.

Its pretty trancey mix with some modern classics, bit of weird one but its not a bad one and fitted the short hop from Manchester to Amsterdam.

Enjoy the mix… the photo comes from jmhutun.

  1. Communication 2 (Armin remix) – Armin Van Buuren
  2. Homeward – Ferry Corsten
  3. Fallen (Gabriel & Dresden Anti-gravity remix) – Sarah McLaclan
  4. Southern Sun (Moe Aly remix) – Paul Oakenfold
  5. Anahera (extended mix) – Ferry Corsten presents Gouryella
  6. A new dawn (virtual vault remix) – Steve Forte Rio
  7. Rewind (Mikkas remix) – Emma Hewitt
  8. Tears (Protoculture remix) – Markus Schulz pres Dakota
  9. Opium – Jerome Isma-Ae & Alastor
  10. Rheinkraft (Full original mix) – Oliver Klein
  11. Talk (Dave Aude vocal club mix) – Coldplay
  12. Unchained – Diego Morrill
  13. Grotesque (Alex MORPH and RAM mix) – RAM
  14. Strange World (M.I.K.E’s 2006 rework) – Push

Welcomed back to the Quantified Self

Quantified Self 2017

Everytime I go to the Quantified Self conference (2013 & 2014), I walk away with something more than I was expecting. Its been 3 years since I was last at the conference and a lot has happened in that tme. The Quantified Self has shifted from the heydays of super stardom on the front of wired magazine; to everywhere and nowhere. By nowhere, I mean its not really talked about because its actually everywhere. The amount of people with some kind of app or device which they are actively tracking something is so huge. This also raises the question of Self-Tracking vs. Self-Surveillance (which Jana Beck actually covered in her breakout session); are most people self-tracking or is some other entity surveying them? There’s also a debate about how enabling they really are for most people who received a Fitbit for a present.

Garry Wolf raised the topic of what is the quantified self at the start of the first day in the opening talk. Lots of people answered the question from their point of view and it was good to hear the diversity of answers and people building on the previous one.

When back with Gary, he concluded the conversation with a final thought on the subject…

“Everyday science through examination of yourself”

Gary also noted it’s been 10 years since the first conference and threw out 10 interesting points over the last 10 years, plenty to think about; including a Michael Polanyi quote and a request for people to take part in a live experiment around smartphone use. The results were revealed at the end of the day and were quite a shock. I personally only looked at my phone twice over the first day. But as I explained I have my tablet and laptop. It was interesting to hear I wasn’t the only one to have different apps on their different devices. This lead nicely into a group discussion about smartphone use.

Its so easy to feel the fear of missing out (FOMO) at the Quantified Self conference, as there is on average 8-9 things happening in parallel. You really have to pick and if its not for you, move on. Its very much the BarCamp rule of two feet.

Like the rule of two feet, here’s my highlights of the conference.

Session 1: Show & Tells

Quantified Self 2017

I missed the first one by Jana Beck on tracking crying but I got in to see Aaron Parecki kicked off the ignite talks; he later did a session which I’ll dig into the details of with data portability and data ethics in mind. The big things for me was the micropub plugs. I’m going to simplify micropub by saying its like ifttt but open, decentralised and a W3C standard supported by the indieweb community. That was the point when I thought I need to check this out in detail because it reminded me of the media pipeline thoughts I had a long long time ago.

Ahnjili ZhuParris gave a ignite talk which was all about her quantifying her psychedelic experiences. Yes you heard right…She quantified her drugs use to improve her trips! Truly shows how diverse the things track can be. It was captivating to say the least.

Session 2: Self-Tracking vs. Self-Surveillance

This breakout session run by Jana Beck and was full of interesting points. Of course Hasan Elahi was brought up and the group tried to understand the difference between tracking & surveillance. It seemed to boil down to judgment from which entity? Both have issues including the illusion of perfection which can drive self-tracking; and of course the issues of external surveillance are very well know.

This is where I first met the open university who are working on a project called monetize.me. I also bumped into Kley Reynolds who I’ve been thinking about since 2013, when I heard him talk about using QS data to create a fingerprint for data & identity.

Session 3: Connecting Self-Tracking Data to Home Assistants

In this session I helped a out with another person as the speaker couldn’t make it due to flight problems. Myself and Jacqueline took over the session hoping someone would come with some more experience in using home assistants to track something. I had some experience with Amazon Alexia & Google Home but not for quantified/tracking. I could see how it might be possible with something like ifttt but not directly.

We didn’t have to wait long till some knowledgeable people stepped in and a discussion kicked off. I kept going back to the fact these devices are in group/family spaces. Somewhere along the line, Jacqueline & me started thinking about how you could use these devices to bring together a family and nudge them to eat more healthy through dinner time checkins. I feel theres a unpolished gem somewhere there.

Session 4: Using Your Data to Influence Your Environment

Quantified Self 2017

I ran this session and I knew with a brief skim through object media and perceptive media, Questions and thoughts would come from a very data literate crowd. I wasn’t wrong.

Lost of thoughts about the role of public in a media landscape which can be changed and modified. There was a lot of discussion about why and the true benefits of using personal data in storytelling. In retrospect I should have shown parts of my interview back in 2013: We research how personal data and storytelling can be combined.

Points were made about customization vs personalization; people felt that was a big difference and could be the cause for some backlash. There was also a feeling that they would want to know how much things are customized and why if interested. Also there was a sense negotiation was a key aspect in this all, something we are exploring with the Databox project. There was a sense you could try it with little data shared then decide to ramp it up later to see what difference it made to what you saw first time.

A interesting fact was mentioned that fruit machines can be skinned in as quick as 20seconds. This was mentioned when talking about customization of the reality around you. Which led to Minority Report discussions.

It was a positive discussion but lots of worries about how to tell stories with enough richness/depth to work with the diversity of personal data that may be shared or used.

End of the first day

There was lots of discussions following the smartphone experiment at the start of the day. A small list of good ways to stop being distracted by your smartphone started to emerge.

I used Quality Time and as said previously clocked up 2 checks and only 20secs of actual screen time. Some people ran into multiple hours.

Quantified Self 2017

This crossed with Aaron’s list deserves a blog of its own really… (coming soon – honestly!)

More than optimization (day 2)

Quantified Self 2017

The over optimization intrigued me on paper as there is always a dark sense of over quantification in the hope of perfection? I hadn’t really thought how it could be used in team sports to create personalize routines for each rugby team member instead of applying a routine to the team broad brush; it makes perfect sense right?

Session 5: Making money from your own data with Monetize.me

After meeting Monetize.me in the second session, I went along to a dedicated session. I think the plan for the session went slightly out the window but it was fruitful and it all came down to data negotiation. I did talk about the databox project and wondered how they hadn’t come across each other?

There was a lot of questions about how much is data actually worth? I pointed at Jennifer Moore and her position as the first personal limited company. I also mentioned how fresh/realtime is the data.

Of course this all lead to questions asking if you could treat all data the same? What about data discrimination and finally what are the business models which can emerge and what needs to change for it to be?

I also learned about Bitwalking which generates a crypto-currancy from the amount you walk.

Session 6: How to plan for data access with choosing a QS tool

Quantified Self 2017

I mentioned Aaron Parecki’s ignite talk earlier, and there was plenty more depth in his workshop. Aaron started out explaining the process he’s gone through with quantifying himself. He talked about the pain of data portability through broken devices and closed services. This all lead him to a checklist he uses.

  • How much effort is required?
  • How does it Sync?
  • What is the sustainability of the service/product?
  • What is the data portability options?
  • Whats the competition like?

Each point had a bunch of issues under them for example in how does it sync; breaks down to questions about centralized servers vs direct sync to a local computer/device. Sustainability was focused on business models of the likes of Apple, Google, Fitbit, Jawbone, etc. All very different and it all depends on the user which once they are comfortable they are with it (if everything is made transparent, and the user can make a real informed choice!). I talked about Gadgetbridge in connection with effort and syncing.

Hopefully Aaron will make his slides public (but this needs some more thought!)

Session 7: Self-Tracking for the Good of the World

With my public service hat on, I went along to Justin’s session. We explored some of the issues with the internet and I did say, we should be looking at the work Mozilla are doing around the internet health report, but we focused on other things.

One of those things was the packages; packages being things which are a mix of hardware, software and service. This was intriguing to me and got me thinking about opinionated software.

We talked about the public benefit of quantified health but there was a large conversation about how you compare data when the different black box devices can’t agree on a step actually is. This was when someone suggested some governance and that the Quantified Self site has a large number of devices/services/packages reviewed. Maybe there should be some kind of ranking system and clear indicator of different aspects of that thing (you could use Aaron Parecki’s indicators) . You can imagine the QS community making it clear what devices are to be avoided and best practices.

I tweeted Gary to say its time the Quantified Self got political.

Session 8: Quantified Self meetups

I drifted around a few sessions but settled on a session about the meetups, as the Manchester Quantified Self meetup stalled a little while ago. Last time I was at the conference I was inspired to setup a QS meetup. I’m still inspired to run the meetup but it was great to hear from those new and old to the meetups.

Sharing stories and hearing from Steven who is well known in Quantified Self circles was very useful. There was lots of questions about the choice of the format, use of meetup, etc. Steven pretty much said the Quantified Self will support any changes the organizers make. That would include format, event, description, etc changes.

Like Gary said at the start of the first day, things are always changing and they are flexible to these.

With this in mind, I have kicked off another Manchester Quantified Self with a different format.

The wrap ups

Quantified Self 2017

The last keynote talks were fascinating and centered around circular/cyclical time. The picture of the complexity of patterns summed up so much of it.

The people

The best thing about Quantified Self conference is the people, they are so amazing. No edge, just open and all so geeky. No matter where we were it was great conversations which spilled out from the many sessions I didn’t get a chance to attend.

Quantified Self 2017

On the first evening we started at the Casa balcony bar then had dinner at the Café-restaurant De Ysbreeker and ended up Canvas again. Love that place and its so weird seeing it become this incredible place now from the squat it use to be.

On the second night, we headed out in search of cocktails (theres a story behind this, which I never actually posted till now). We almost ended up at Prik and Blue boy which will make 3 people laugh. This time we ended up in a Amsterdam festival and then a speakeasy place called Door 74. Being a geeky quantifiers, we decided to hack friendship by trying the 36 questions in a group.

We didn’t get far, but I actually think it worked…

Quantified Self 2017

Another great time at the Quantified Self… So much learned so much to think and act on. If I have anything to do with it, I’ll be back next year for sure. Massive thanks to everyone who I bumped into over the 2 full days. It was emotional, fun and exciting all at the same time. Special thanks to the newbies who I spent a lot of time with.

Quantified Self 2017

Shenanigans in Amsterdam

I tweeted this because this will never be forgotten by those involved, a night of Shenanigans

dsc_0237
Simon suggests burgers for dinner at Burger Zaken, Amsterdam. The Wagu burger wasn’t too bad at all.

I was hunting for cocktails and google maps suggests going to a place called Prik. Where we finally connect the dots realising its actually a gay bar (seems so obvious now, but alas I didn’t connect undressed with undressing so go figure). Just at the point when we seen a heavily pregnant cat order drinks at the bar (I kid you not) and join it with a cocktail of our own.

dsc_0243

Moving onwards we tried Tales & Spirits, but it was fully booked and they suggest a new place which just opened that evening. Blue Boy. It use to be a gay cinema, we were told but from that night its a trendy restaurant with very good cocktails. So we went with the recommendation. The night seemed to be full of animals from pregnant cats in Prik to the massive stone dog watching over us while we drank.

dsc_0247
It was Jasmine who first went to the toilet and came back to the table saying it was a little weird having unisex toilets. I said that’s just Amsterdam. Then when I went to the toilet, I followed the corridor to the toilets.

Then I made the mistake of using the wrong sexes toilets as the place was so new they forgot to add signs to the doors. For me it wasn’t till the woman also washing her hands asked if she was wrong? I looked confused and she repeated it; getting what she was talking about. I said I think its communal toilets no biggie. But it wasn’t till I left and had the shock from another woman entering, that I realised I was actually wrong. Her partner walked out another door (also with no sign) and I saw the urinals. Embarrassing yes but everybody laughed it off – thankfully!

Back to Niewmarkt and Cafe Cuba for one more before realising the last metro was only 10mins time. Once back at the hotel, I decided to make the most of that super warm night in mid September by doing a mix on the pacemaker outside the hotel entrance.

The inner child in us all

The inner child in us all

Everytime I go to the Quantified Self Conference, I take away so much more than just knowledge. I will write up what I saw later

But we were in a bar after the conference and people got talking. The conversation turned to the 36 questions (yes those ones) and the answers were open, frank & refreshingly honest (what else would you expect from quantified selfers?). Later in the night, we all started digging into relationships at a much deeper level and the question was asked how people deal with arguements in relationships?

I mentioned the fact I like to buy hour glasses for wedding gifts, because from previous relationships; sometimes you just need a time out for a short while. Maybe enough to stop think, drop the ego, etc.

That was when someone (can’t rememeber her name) pointed me at the Burning Man exhibit above. My mind was blown. Its breathtaking and sums up so much about life and relationships. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since, to be honest.

Alexander Milov's Burning Man 2015 scupture

I can’t quite explain the connection but when I saw it, it made me think about the Watchmen scene with the Nuclear Kiss. I’d say something about revealing the true self in a moment of intimacy or something?

Atomic Kiss from Watchmen movie

Flying into storms

Landing after a storm
The scene after landing in Manchester Airport

Finally back from Amsterdam after IBC 2016; the weather was incredible. Weather wasn’t far off in the UK it seems. However on flying back to Manchester, we hit a massive storm. The flight was only meant to be 55mins but we were up in the air for 90min.

On tweeting the above, Andrew sent a tweet.

On the review, it certainly looks about right, I certainly spotted a coast line.

Flying through and around a storm

To be fair once we finally landed and I tried to get a train home, I found out the train line was flooded and no trains were running from the Airport. They said the same was true of the tram but James seemed to get through? Ended up getting a Uber and being very surprised it wasn’t surge pricing. Felt a little sorry for most of the other people who were stuck waiting for trains. I was a little miffed but I didn’t know how bad things could have been or was in Manchester.

https://twitter.com/bbcradiomanc/status/775772530489470976

Embracing the unquantifiable self?

The Quantified Self scene panel

I’m sat in Manchester terminal 3 airport using the free wifi (for one hour with a sign up to some bothersome news letter) anyway I’m on my way to the Quantified Self Europe Conference in Amsterdam for the 2nd year (reasons why you should be coming too). I gather the popularity of the conference and area has obviously started to rise with a sharp 50% increase in the ticket price. Fair dues but further proves its getting popular and breaking into the mainstream.

But I wanted to reflect on aspects I’ve touched on many times in my blog. The unquantifiable.

Its one of those lunch time chats in R&D. This time I was talking to Matt Brooks and Jasmine about the Quantified Self and some of the smart data wearemoment.us were able to understand from patterns of usage. Matt stopped me and said how much he hated recommendation systems.

“I want a system which doesn’t give you what you want or even the opposite… ”

The perfect example being spotify…  Before long we were talking l about something which is dear to me and my blogging.

The unquantifiable! Or as Matt likes to call it the “unquantifiable self” credit to Matt for that one.

There seems to be somethings which are simply unquantifiable. Two come to mind instantly. Dj mixing and Chemistry when dating. Everything can be right on paper but when meeting that person in real life or hearing that mix, something just isn’t right. Not only that it can be a total rejection of something you should in the data, adore?

Although I love the quantified self: knowledge through numbers. I feel like I appreciate the unquantifiable even more now. I know there is those who believe we just need more data or more computational power (they may even be right) but in the meanwhile lets have fun with the unquantifiable self.

See you at the quantified self europe. By the way I’ll be talking on Sunday afternoon about my media consumption and maybe a tiny bit about how this relates to perceptive media.

See your self in Quantified Self Europe

I had the pleasure of attending the Quantified Self Europe conference in Amsterdam. It was part of my idea to head towards conferences which are less mainstream and more edgy. Nothing wrong with the mainstream, but I love the idea of finding something quite raw.

The Quantified self I have been tracking for quite sometime and I now I got to realise all those self tracking things I do are just part of my lifestyle.

The conference was more of a unconference with up to 14 tracks running in parallel at some point. There are keynotes and sessions which are attended by everyone but most of the time your walking between sessions and talking to people.

As usual here’s my highlights from the conference…

Your Life Log my privacy

Life logging…

There was lots of talk about lifelogging or photologging. Although not quantifiable as such it came up  in discussions around the Google Glass project. The discussions were centred around the privacy issues of lifelogging using not only google glass. 5 people had been given lifelogging devices and had been walking around the conference for a day or so. They then showed the results on the big screen. The ethics and norms were discussed. Witney talked about being conscious of the device taking pictures and shifting her angle when talking to someone to avoid taking clos up pictures. I described my experience of being audio blogged at Future Everything and how it felt like loosing a sense after it was gone. The same was true of the lifeloggers. Somewhere in the discussion Glass came up again and again. People seemed to feel it would work because the norm when not using it is simply to put the glasses on the top of your head. Simple and elegant way of saying you have my full attention and I’m not logging this.

Interesting points… Photos created by them are not as such images but rather data. From the day, 4% were good images, 40% were too dark and blury and 56% were only useful for data.

Relationship logging

Mood and the yet unquantifiable

There was a clear move to towards the yet unquantified. Mood, emotion, context, relationships, sleep tracking, meme, dreamtracking, mindhacking, etc. One of my favourites was relationship tracking by Fabio Ricardo.

Fabio tracks who he’s talking to, when, where and about what in a series of handwritten note books. The data is quite simple but there is so much of it, it makes for some great insight into conversations and relationships which change over time. Of course I have alot of interest in relationship data but more from a different angle. Had a real good chat with Fabio about his findings and possibilities.

It was also good to see Snoozon also talking as they are working with Lucidpedia who are my choice for mydreamscape. If I can get them to do one thing correctly, that would be the way dream data is entered. Actually I found this app which does a much better job.

Food tracking

Food Tracking

There were a number of talks about food tracking for fitness and enjoyment. The problem is putting in that data so it can be quantified. There is a social pressure involved with taking pictures of food. On one half its good because your sharing and the act of doing so really helps the tracker. For example loosing weight through the fact of documenting. However standing up in a restaurant to take a picture of your food is still generally socially painful. Whats interesting however is all the meta stuff around the photo. The table cloth, the angle, who is with you, where, etc. Taking pictures of what your drinking is very boring unless its cocktails (and Rain did suggest I should take do some cocktail tracking)

But the hardest thing is still how you work out the calories, how healthy the contents is, etc. On top of that we have no idea the overall effect on the tracker. This is all tied deeply into health tracking which was a big theme but isn’t so important to my work.

Visualising data with Rain

Alternative uses for Microdata

I was happy to see big data discussed and talked about at length. But it was even better to see personal tracked data included in that category. I have always stood by the idea of personal tracked data as microdata of big data. But interestingly there was lots of talk about the tracking side (tons on sensors) of the quantified self and not much thought about the after effects.

Generally the data was being used for self analysis or to visualise. Rainycat talked about visualising the data using clothes to demonstrate the data.

Quantified Self Europe 2013

Of course my big thing was Perceptive Media and in fact when I kind of hijacked a Fujitsu Labs presentation. The questions and feedback was a lot better than I first feared it would be. Using microdata to drive and alter media seemed of interest to the people in the room, although there was lots of questions about how?

There was so much more to the quantified self conference, I haven’t touched the crazy amount of sensors and there getting so small. One thing which got me very excited was http://funf.org.

The Funf Open Sensing Framework is an extensible sensing and data processing framework for mobile devices, supported and maintained by Behavio. The core concept is to provide an open source, reusable set of functionalities, enabling the collection, uploading, and configuration of a wide range of data signals accessible via mobile phones.

It doesn’t take a lot to imagine the possibilities for prototyping perceptive media projects using Funf…

The whole conference was made of such great diversity of views and opinions, and I was blown away by the mixed of people.

The missing trackers

Who’s missing from the Quantified Self?

However the session which I missed all of but the last 10mins was, the missing trackers by Witney. Looking at the notes it was a very interesting discussion about the ethics of self tracking and sharing. When I joined later it had turned into a debate about identity and how to put forward the Quantified self in the best light. There seems to be a split of view of how to best promote the Quantified Self movement. Is it best done through the numbers and hard data or through the stories and experiences.

I chimed in with the answer being the stories and experiences, data will loose most people while a good narrative will always attract and inspire people.

Quantified Self Europe 2013

We all Track…

To be honest by the end of the conference I was amazed at the amount of things (media, food, steps, work) I track had not really thought about before. Thinking next year I could confidently give a talk about an element of self tracking, although I’d prefer to come back with some Perceptive Media demos.

I was also interviewed at the conference as you can see at the top of the post. I think it went rather well, except half eaten through an apple and really wanting some water. I did have a shock in the morning when coming down to breakfast. One of the ladies behind the reception said they had heard me on the local radio station. Turns out the local station watch the local hashtags top10 and found the interview and decided to use it. I won’t touch on the licence terms but its good to hear Perceptive Media went out to most of Amsterdam.

The whole movement can seem a bit like a low key cult with people talking about self improvement through data. But I felt welcomed and there’s plenty of rational arguments back and forth. People were open and happy to stop and talk about there self tracking projects or ideas to improve self tracking.

I went away inspired enough to setup a Manchester Quantified Self group, so look out for more details about that real soon.

This movement is certainly on its way up and out to the mainstreamsee you next year?

XBMC used for in hotel system

XBMC?

I was in Amsterdam for the Quantified Self conference (blog post coming soon) and the whole conference was in a hotel called Casa 400. It was a good conference but what was strange was the TV in my hotel room which look familiar to me.

XBMC?

I swear it was XBMC underneath but unfortunately the functionality they could have enabled like Samba/NFS shares, DLNA, UPnP and heck Airplay were not available. If they were it would make for an amazing in room system on top of a already technically great hotel. Couldn’t knock there wifi deployment one bit, even with 4 devices using it all day…

XBMC?