I was lucky to be able to have a short email conversation with Stephen Wolfram (of Mathematica and Wolfram|Alpha) regarding his self-tracking practice. I really think the implications for tracking and analyzing health information and behavior data are profound.
I’ve been experimenting with sharing my weight via the Withings Scale. The Withings dashboard allows users to share their weight via twitter among a variety of other services. Usually weight is very private matter. Something that is rarely shared with close friends let alone made public. I’ve been sharing my weight for a little over a month now and a few things have happened and I wanted to share those experiences.
Two people have contacted me via @ replies over twitter regarding my weight. One, just today, was to ask about my current weight status and the trend. I’ve been gaining a little bit of weight over the last few weeks as my exercise level has dropped and I’ve been eating out a bit more than usual. I found it interesting that someone who I’ve only met once in person took the time to not only reach out to me about my weight gain, but had obviously taken the time to understand that I was gaining weight. Although he is an awesome dude with his own amazing weight loss story so that may explain it.
The other contact was really exciting. This came from a twitter follower who I’ve never met in person. Not long after my weight tweet went up in the morning I received an @ reply stating that seeing my weight was motivating him to finally try to start losing weight. That tweet, more than any other I’ve received, recently blew me away. This is one of the most powerful aspects of the social world we now live in. We have the ability to share information about ourselves that was once very hard to share or at the very least hard to disseminate to large number of individuals. In a recent article on Wired.com about Google+ Amit Singhal said,
We are just scratching the surface of marrying human relationships with information.
Now that information is becoming more widely available from numerous low-cost sensors and APIs are proliferating we are at the beginning of a data revolution. Combine that with constant availability of sharing mechanisms and we have a recipe to really test the hypothesis being championed by James Fowler and Nicholas Christakis:
Do behaviors spread through social networks?
So I’ve decided to put a version of that hypothesis it to the test. Does sharing data about myself effect the behavior of others? From here on out you can view my weight on this post via the Withings widget below. It will update automatically every day as I weigh in, usually in the mornings. Feel free to scroll through the historical data or view the chronological data here. Do with the data what you will. Repost. Comment. Laugh. Motivate.
Want to keep people invested in their health? Use their data to weave compelling visual narratives.
On February 11th FitBit released their API into the wild and let developers get to work. Since then there have been some very neat integrations:
- Health Month: Set custom step goals
- Joshua Stein: Low battery notifier
- Earndit: Turn physical activity minutes into coupons for cool stuff
- FitBit Daemon: Update FitBit account with Twitter and Nike+
- John McLaughlin: Lets you “suck” your FitBit data into a Google Spreadsheet
- Runkeeper: Update your RunKeeper account with FitBit data
- GravityEight: Track your activity as part of a holistic wellness measure
Sure it is only a small group so far, but they will only grow and improve from here. I’m particularly excited about the google spreadsheet integration by John McLaughlin. Even someone without any programming experience can start creating very neat dynamic charts and graphs within minutes. For example I created the the following charts in just a few minutes (click images for interactive versions):
Pretty cool stuff! If you know of any other people working on apps or services that integrate the FitBit leave a comment and we’ll add them to the list!
At Wellovations we are big believers in the FitBit. If you’re thinking of getting one please consider using our affiliate link located in the Tools page.