We regularly see articles and blogs discussing steps to improve all aspects of your life; each one touting the true secret to being more productive, using your time better, finding peace and balance, becoming a better leader, and more. All of those posts are really quite appealing because they describe things that we all want to find. Many of them have some excellent suggestions about how to do this, usually in the form of “Be more productive with these 3 simple steps.” Most of those steps find their way into New Year’s resolutions or goals, all with good intentions. This will be the year! But how do you know you have successfully implemented those resolutions and goals? To quote Jon Soldan, “what does success look like?”
While the name might sound new and catchy, personal analytics has been around for some time (No, analytics are not just for business). For people interested in fitness, keeping track of their progress has been part of the regimen. Perhaps they simply called it calorie counting and kept a record of what they ate each day. Then later they may have added their daily exercise log. Over time, and with some good record keeping, there would be some data to analyze. From this analysis patterns would emerge and goals could be set by acting on that information (parallels with KBR's and KBI's?). Ways to improve health could be determined based on past behavior and performance. Now add in the smart phone and some apps and you have an excellent opportunity to easily record data and bring personal analytics into your life and not just in regards to fitness.
|Analysis of Stephen Wolfram's data|
As a result of Mr. Wolfram’s blog, his company now offers a free analysis of your Facebook activity and history [ a ]. I decided to run an analysis on my own Facebook activity, which turned out to be rather lame because I don’t really have any activity. To make this analysis a bit more interesting, I have added my wife’s and my 17 year old daughter’s Facebook analysis for comparison.
Myself Spouse 17 yr old daughter
I think some interesting data pops out really quickly: My daughter likes Facebook and typically posts status updates. That one large spike indicates a lot of pictures were uploaded. I’ll bet that was the day after a big dance. Comparatively, my wife doesn't appear to be too interested in Facebook and the small amount of time spent on the site is devoted to uploading family photos. I don’t like Facebook (that one status update and posted link was probably an attempt to Rick-Roll people) and the data tells all. You can see the result of my Facebook apathy in my friend network.
Myself Spouse 17 yr old daughter
The report, which you can also run here, Wolfram Alpha Facebook Report (You will need to create a free Wolfram Alpha account) provides some interesting views of your Facebook activity. I am not entirely sure how you might use this to improve your life at the moment. Perhaps you have time management goals? However, this might be very important for a business that has a Facebook presence. Additionally, if the time comes that an individual can generate income from their Facebook page, this report will become much more useful.
Another interesting tool is the Google Account Report [ b ]. We all know that Google keeps gobs of information about us. Now we get to see what some of that data looks like:
From this panel, I can see what my Gmail and Google Calendar history was for the past month. Apparently, I’m down 26% in the amount of e-mail sent, which is probably the result of Christmas vacation. Placing the mouse pointer over the gray bars on the graph indicates a specific date within the report. Questions I might ask are “how productive was I that day? Can I correlate productivity with the amount of e-mail sent?” Perhaps more data is needed here. This report might be quite useful for a business that has subscribed to Google Apps.
For many, the interest in personal analytics is the idea of improving performance, either in fitness or other aspects in life. The ability to use smart phones to capture data with little interaction from the user is remarkable. The arena of personal analytics is expected to grow rapidly within the next few years, perhaps more so in the medical field as more people take responsibility for their health. There are numerous other tools besides smart phones as well (See the IBM Business Value Study regarding connected health devices click here, there is a pdf download). One of those tools is an HRM, a heart rate monitor. This device can record your heart rate quite accurately and provides a log. Over time, not only can you measure how you performed during a regular daily work out, you can additionally measure how you preformed at races or competitions as well. Use your smart phone and some apps to measure your mood, your diet for the day, add the HRM, even a GPS map of your path, and you can get a very interesting picture of the variables that may have helped, or hindered you, during that last 5K. This data collection is not only for the athlete. Individuals using the devices simply to monitor their heart rate and blood pressure over time create a baseline. As more people capture personal data, and are willing share, a pool of Big Data for businesses and medical professionals becomes available to tap into for research, product development, and marketing.
1. Data about your online activity -
2. Health -
g. http://fluxstream.com - Still in closed beta.
3. A place to start -
4. Blogs -
5. Privacy -