Personal Tracking…

What can you measure and therefore change about yourself?

Before you start to think this post is about attaching a GPS to an estranged spouses car, well it’s not however maybe close.  The idea of this began after reading a post on the Qualified Self blog which spoke of the topic where it sort of struck me first.  Then there was a blurb in the Economist about it and finally, while thumbing through a “Sky Mall” catalog as I was waiting for takeoff heading to Amsterdam, it was once again staring me in the face.

Here we are really talking about the concept of “personal experimentation” in reference to “ones” person or habits rather than upon external devices or events.  As one of the biggest and maybe oldest is measuring ones weight and keeping a record of it, thus knowing it allows us to make changes “visible” permitting causal relationships to be built.  However just “weight” in general is too broad as the movement (I’m trying to avoid the “fad” word as I’m not sure that will be the case) a foot which says for this to be effective we must “correlate” at least two data streams.  So in the case of “weight” we could logically join in calories  (taken in) to really see a causal relationship as not all calories are created equal.

In fact we could take this a step further and even factor in our exercise too, as on average every mile traveled be it at a walking pace or all out run you will burn on average 90 calories.  Yes that’s all; adding in speed is only a function of time, so yes it’s 90 per mile for a regular Joe.  With this you in fact could apply a formula such as:

((calories consumed) – ((body weight * 112 basil calories per lbs) + (miles walked * 90)))/3600 = number of pounds gained or lost in a day

By the way I personally tracked this for over two years and it works, this isn’t a post about weight loss or a healthier life style, it’s about “experimentation” and discovery.  However looping back why did I stop after two years?

The answer was complexity as acquiring the raw data took time and that was something which I was always running short of.  However, just imagine if you will that it was automatic?  No extra effort, the data was just there, well that day is here and our smart phones are front in center as we now have Blue Tooth scales, pedometers built into our shoes (thank you Nike) and large food databases allowing us to quickly convert our meal or snack to calories.  Hey you could even scan the bar code with the built in camera too!

Going a step further, there was even a watch in the Sky Mall catalog which tracked your swimming laps in the pool and will feed them to your smart phone. Yes the world is now connected and so are you as even at night your iPhone can track and report back your sleeping habits as well as find the right time to wake you!

With all of this, how will we be reshaped (metaphorically not weight wise) by having all this data as we like to lie to ourselves. For example, the last time you had pizza, how many slices did you eat as it sure is easy to selectively forget about having that one last extra piece.    There is also that mile walk you take every evening that is really only three quarters of reality, however you round up so the point is we typically are less that truthful with ourselves.

Then what are we going to do with all this data that we collect, where will we store it and what will we use it for in the future?  As Aldus Huxley would say, it’s a brave new world…

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About Joseph Campbell

As a strong believer in the fact that "people work for people", it has been a life driver to better to understand the complexities of the various aspects which drive efficiency within this axiom, especially the concepts of leadership. Supporting this, I have been fortunate enough to having experienced this as leader on a global basis over the last decade and half. During this time it has been clear there are three core drivers being Life, Leadership and Economics.
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