My notes to developers, as promised: building that "perfect" Quantified Self app

Finished my notes to developers on how the “perfect” quantified self app would look like, if I built it myself (alas, I don’t have neither skills nor resources to do that).

Will be posting the second part (analytical features and monetization ideas) shortly. I would love to hear a feedback, both from users and developers.

In my view, a perfect self tracking app needs to have three things:

  1. Export to CSV or JSON capability. Very important since I keep a master spreadsheet that log several variables.

  2. Log data without my intervention and automatic sync. This is very important if you’re tracking 50 data points at any given time. You do not have time to log all these information down.

  3. Easy scale for easy logging. Do not make me rate 1 to 100. Make me rate 1 to 3.

Hi Kiba,

What is convenient for your (e.g, your scale of 1 to 3), may not be acceptable to others. That’s why the customizability of variables and scales is so important. Your prefer to track your mood on 1 to 3 scale. I personally use 10-point scale to measure most of psychological traits. Someone else may rate his/her productivity or even quality of sleep on 100-point scale. It depends on personal preferences, or, more often, nature of the variable we are tracking, and/or previous scientific research on the subject. So make me rate ANYTHING and ANYHOW I want.

As the developer of a generic self-tracking app, I’m torn between making the app more powerful (e.g. with custom data types), and keeping the app simple.

One reason why most existing apps focus on a niche is that this makes it much easier to create an app that’s simple (and convenient) enough to use.

Looking forward to the next post!

Just posted second (and last) part of my notes to developers :slight_smile:

Hello Measured Me guy

Thanks for striving to stimulate the production of an app that should have existed 10 years ago…

It’s the most obvious thing in the world (to us anyway) - track every detail of life and learn the correlations such that everybody benefits, health problems mostly fade away, and people learn to live amazingly longer and longer lives with great health.

That is the key Ken,

As someone who has built an app, I can say, tracking things is the easy part. The complexity is building an analysis engine to sort though that mountain of information and highlight things that might be useful.

Hi Jody,

Great point! But Quantified Self is all about personalization. So why “sort through that mountain of information” - just let the user choose what he wants to crosstabulate and correlate, and provide them with an analysis engine as means for that? So many developers go down the path “here are the features that I am sure you want” instead of making the tool more flexible and giving users more control. Of course, you can always give people a hint on what to look for. Should you look at the correlations between the fitness and sleep quality? Yes! How about mood and number of steps taken? Probably not.