A boot camp for self-trackers?

Just a thought. I was wondering if we could open a new topic, something like “preview of projects and self-experiments”? One of the keys to success in habit development and behavior modification is “social commitment”. Before taking on a challenge, you announce it to your friends or people with similar problems. I thought we could apply the same principle to Quantified Self. You announce what self-tracking projects you will be conducting, with brief description. It is more of a self-motivation, of course. Here is my version of such a commitment:


We can take it even further a bit, and organize “boot camps” for self-trackers: bi-monthly meetings or online exchanges where we discuss the planning and progress of our projects, share intermediate insights, etc. Sort of like QS meetups, but the emphasis is on the projects in progress, so we could socially commit, “cheer” and motivate each other, share advise, and help with the “glitches”. Perhaps even track the same thing together and then compare results. Again, the emphasis is not on the presentation of final results, but rather on designing the projects and tracking the progress. Does that sound too crazy?

I’m all for it. I’ve always found it odd that self-trackers often do not seem to have an outcome in mind. Different strokes for different blokes I suppose. If people are happy just tracking what they do 'cos they like to, so be it. But I have a very definite outcome - getting my cancerousness down into the ‘normal’ range (as measured by molecular biomarkers).

Everyone I know, knows I’m doing this. Actually, I don’t need any other commitment other than living longer.

I like this idea, and would love to be part of it. We’ve been talking about programming a series of in person events where we invited people who were tracking the same things to share their data and methods (maybe some of it in advance), and then learn from each other. So while self-motivation is part of it, maybe there are insights to be had.

Hi Gary,

Thanks a lot! The experiment that you conducted with Ernesto (comparing Fuelband vs. Fitbit) is a great example of such joint QS projects. We need more empirical experiments like that to validate the tools that are widely available to consumers. I would love to help you to organize these series.

I think this is a great idea and we at the Personal Genome Project have been discussing similar ideas. Expanding on the joint projects idea, QS and the PGP (and possibly other orgs) might do this together to get more aligned. One possible opportunity for a coordinated boot camp is at the PGP’s 2013 GET Conference in Boston(http://www.getconference.org/GET2013/index.html) on April 25 and 26. The PGP is already planning some Fitbit activities and phenotyping stations, and more will be added. As with last year’s conference, enrolled PGP participants will get free admission. In addition to the phenotyping activities, the PGP will be drawing blood from all registered PGP participants for banking, cell line creation, and eventual genome sequencing and other assays. As a PGP director and participant, and a long-time QS lurker and now QS member, I think it would be great to have a greater QS presence at the conference.

I’d love to see a bootcamp happen. This wasn’t expressly part of GET this year, but a 1-day event focused on nothing but tracking would be quite useful – and is something many groups could organize simultaneously in cities around the world.

Thanks Preston - I just tweeted the conference info, it’s certain to be appealing to #quantifiedself folks.

And on the topic of a boot camp for self trackers, this makes too much sense not to do. We have a small research grant from QS friends at Intel Labs which we’ve been using to organize Google Hangouts with serious self-trackers to talk about things like making sense of long term time series data and combining multiple data streams.

We’ve learned quite a bit from running these hangouts, including simple stuff like how best to document them, how to moderate using chat, etc. Maybe we could extend these meetings to a “boot camp” format where people actually plan projects and collaborate on experiments. I’ve edited a form we were using for the earlier events, and if you fill it out we can try to organize this. Or one of you can. (That is a hint for measuredme.)

Here’s the form: