This assignment has come up at a very opportune time. In my biomechanics class we’ve been asked to wear a fitbit this week. This is my first experience with quantified self, and I must say I’m intrigued by the idea of having quantitative information about myself. The fitbit works rather seamlessly, connecting wirelessly via bluetooth connection to my computer or smartphone. Not only that, but there is a small screen that gives me my numbers on steps taken, flights climbed and calories burned for the day. The data is constantly present. When it comes to exercise, I find it very difficult to be motivated or to set goals for myself, so having something that shows me when I’ve been highly inactive for a day and automatically sets daily goals for me seems like it would be very beneficial. As a movement, find it appealing because of its potential to revolutionize healthcare. It increases awareness of one’s own health, but can also allow doctors and physicians to monitor health on a large scale. If this kind of data is widely available, it can increase the ability of medical professionals to predict epidemics, understand how they spread, and perhaps draw connections to other factors like geographic location and culture.
I’m also interested in how this movement could promote men’s health. I participated in Movember this year, a campaign that asks men to grow mustaches and have people donate money to fund research in mens health issues. A secondary, but equally important goal, in my mind, is to encourage men to talk about their health. For what I see as primarily cultural issues, the men I know generally don’t talk about their health and avoid going to the doctor for regular checkups. I think the quantified self movement has the potential to change this, by associating health with technology and fun instead of weakness or infirmity. I’d be interested in studying whether or not quantifying increases the amount that men visit the doctor and discuss issues concerning their health.
Before I even finished reading the Economist article, I downloaded the Boozerlyzer app. I haven’t had a chance to use it yet, but I’m highly interested in how alcohol affects my brain function, and I can definitely see myself running some experiments on the differences between whiskey and tequila. Considering this app brought to my attention my general interest in abnormal situations that I may experience. I’m excited to take a closer look at my fitbit data from this past thursday. One of my hobbies is swing dancing, which tends to be heavy in footwork. Following this logic, I should have logged a number of steps for that three hour period that is far above average for me. Of course, I’m also interested in the number of calories I typically burn in a night of dancing.
I’d also be interested in studying my mental health. For some time, I’ve been interested in the correlation between my mood and the music that I’m listening to. Last.fm is an application that monitors the artists and songs you listen to. Using this in conjunction with other tools could show me how much listening to reggae affects my stress levels, or if listening to metal makes me more productive when working out.