Self-tracking device? Got it. Tried it. Ditched it.

It took a while to improve upon the humble pedometer. This tiny wearable device, typically attached on or near one’s waist, has been tracking how many steps and how much distance we travel each day ever since its invention by Abraham-Louis Perrelet back in 1780.

But with the relatively recent explosion of wearable digital activity trackers on the market, I’m now waiting for the randomized control trial that compares Fitbit or any other similar device head to head with that simple old-fashioned pedometer. In other words:

Q:  Just because you make it digital, does it make it better? 
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The Quantified Selfer’s Christmas form letter

Yes, indeedy, it is that time of year when you create the impersonal yet one-size-fits-all Christmas form letter to send off to all your friends, faux friends, wannabe friends, or Real Life Relatives that you just can’t seem to keep in touch with throughout the rest of the year.  Although there’s likely an app for this, I thought I’d offer you Quantified Selfers out there a simple Christmas letter template you can use to communicate with those people you otherwise don’t bother with.

Like all Christmas form letters, the tone here is important. A humble-brag approach is best. Quantified Selfers do not want to come across as self-absorbed data dorks, even though – as Donna Cusano of Telecare Aware once described you – there may be just a wee whiff of “stark raving narcissism” about all that obsessive self-tracking and sharing going on among the worried well.

Let’s see if this handy Christmas form letter template might work for you:   Continue reading

Revisiting data porn: your digital footprint in real life

Ever notice how, ever since you ordered that discount kitty litter online,  you’ve been seeing cat food ads popping up on other unrelated sites you visit? That’s happening because you’re being stalked by marketers. In fact, just reading this post here on The Ethical Nag tells me that you are leaving your digital footprint, right now, at this very moment. That’s the warning from Evan Dashevsky, writing in PC World:

“Your personal information is considered a very hot commodity among people you have never even met.”  

Others, like software entrepreneur Dave Sifry, have called this phenomenon data porn. Continue reading