miscellany

Aug 27

No secret— I like the idea of self-tracking and quantified living. My set up is less than ideal right now. Although I’ve experimented with capturing different datasets, I’ve never really managed to get the balance right between the effort required to establish and maintain a self-tracking discipline, and the actual return offered through points of learning derived from the data. Or to put it another way— I haven’t managed to satisfactorily reconcile the cost transforming captured data into meaningful information.

The Jawbone UP24 captures activity passively. That, and Moves on the iPhone are my longest running tracking efforts. Beyond those, I’m currently focusing on a set of Q&A style applications and intiatives, searching for correlations. Each of the following apps demands your attention at random points during your day, and asks you a series of questions.

Reporter (iPhone app)

You get to determine the questions you’re asked. The app itself offers some pretty attractive charts, and there are some interesting conduits to visualisations of the data you capture. It’s the most attractive app of the bunch, and the one I’ve had the longest, but the one I respond to least.

Mappiness (iPhone app)

Yes, another iPhone app, part of a research project at the London School of Economics that’s specifically interested in happiness in relation to specific places. There’s a useful set of charts and correlations built-in, and while they’re not as easy on the eye as Reporter’s, they’re probably more informative, at least out of the box. I’ve been a little more consistent with answering Mappiness whenever it calls for attention…

Track Your Happiness (web app)

I’ve just started using this one. It’s very reminiscent of Mappiness— some of the questions and categories are eerily similar, although attributed to a research project out of Harvard. That said, I like the variation in questions that are offered up. Although the base questions remain the same (Do you have to do what you’re doing right now? Do you WANT to do what you’re doing right now? Are you alone? And so on…) each call to respond throws up something slightly different, and this novelty makes it a little more interested to answer the call, pushing beyond the drudgery of capturing data and making each mini-interview an opportunity to pause and reflect.

Early days yet, but I’m really curious to see what I’ll learn from each of these, if I use them for long enough…

No secret— I like the idea of self-tracking and quantified living. My set up is less than ideal right now. Although I’ve experimented with capturing different datasets, I’ve never really managed to get the balance right between the effort required to establish and maintain a self-tracking discipline, and the actual return offered through points of learning derived from the data. Or to put it another way— I haven’t managed to satisfactorily reconcile the cost transforming captured data into meaningful information.

The Jawbone UP24 captures activity passively. That, and Moves on the iPhone are my longest running tracking efforts. Beyond those, I’m currently focusing on a set of Q&A style applications and intiatives, searching for correlations. Each of the following apps demands your attention at random points during your day, and asks you a series of questions.

Reporter (iPhone app)

You get to determine the questions you’re asked. The app itself offers some pretty attractive charts, and there are some interesting conduits to visualisations of the data you capture. It’s the most attractive app of the bunch, and the one I’ve had the longest, but the one I respond to least.

Mappiness (iPhone app)

Yes, another iPhone app, part of a research project at the London School of Economics that’s specifically interested in happiness in relation to specific places. There’s a useful set of charts and correlations built-in, and while they’re not as easy on the eye as Reporter’s, they’re probably more informative, at least out of the box. I’ve been a little more consistent with answering Mappiness whenever it calls for attention…

Track Your Happiness (web app)

I’ve just started using this one. It’s very reminiscent of Mappiness— some of the questions and categories are eerily similar, although attributed to a research project out of Harvard. That said, I like the variation in questions that are offered up. Although the base questions remain the same (Do you have to do what you’re doing right now? Do you WANT to do what you’re doing right now? Are you alone? And so on…) each call to respond throws up something slightly different, and this novelty makes it a little more interested to answer the call, pushing beyond the drudgery of capturing data and making each mini-interview an opportunity to pause and reflect.

Early days yet, but I’m really curious to see what I’ll learn from each of these, if I use them for long enough…

Aug 26

“…looking back at some of his earlier work, Bailey is now the first to admit that pushing too hard and being too bold is an occupational hazard. “People have said, ‘White boy, you are messing with my culture. You have no right to tell the story of our spiritual practices or our history, because you are getting it all wrong.’ And I can’t defend those works today in the same way I could back then. For all I know, I could look back at Exhibit B in 10 years and say, ‘Oh my God, I am doing exactly what they are accusing me of.’ But that’s the risk you take. It comes with the territory.”” —

Edinburgh’s most controversial show: Exhibit B, a human zoo | Stage | The Guardian

Exhibit B is coming to the Barbican, later in September.

I received a request to participate in a petition via Facebook against the work (insert love letter to social media here) on the basis that, with black people presented in cages for the benefit of an audience, the work was, at its core, racist.

I can appreciate the knee-jerk. And the parallels between this and the kind of “human zoos” of the past that this work seeks to make comment on. That said, the entire enterprise is predicated on that notion: making comment upon a way of viewing people of colour and otherness, and to challenging the thinking behind viewing “the other” through the lens of spectacle.

I wonder how many of the protesters took a stand against it before they knew what the work is about, and what its intentions are?

How many contemporary portrayals of “otherness” are essentially leveraged in a similar, spectacular way, made more suspect for the lack of interrogation or challenge? How much is swallowed without question because the cages and bars that once separated us from “the other” have been replaced by (television/computer) screens?

Rather than joining the call to protest about the work before its staged, I’m planning to experience it first, then attempt to decide for myself how “successful” it seems to be.

Aug 25

“The teens are calling it CADcore, a more aggressive variant of renderscape. Mostly, it’s bewildering.” —

This Japanese music video is quite strange | The Verge

Oh descriptors, how I love you.

Also: desire to write a poem like this (the twinned audio-visual experience that this video offers). Hm.

Aug 24

“Readers don’t want something that merely rehashes outmoded styles, but are interested in how authors react to – and distill – the times in which we live. The best new books are written in a form appropriate to our lives as we experience them now, not as we did 100 years ago.” —

Hard books for hard times: literary experimentation gains popularity | Books | The Guardian

Dear poet— this applies to you as well.

Aug 23

Protesters bearing witness in Ferguson, MO (Scott Olson/Getty, via  Front Page)”>Rhizome | Rhizome Today)

Protesters bearing witness in Ferguson, MO (Scott Olson/Getty, via Front Page)”>Rhizome | Rhizome Today)

Aug 22

“If I’m not getting anything out of self-tracking that’s worth the set up time, battery draining, and mindfulness of checking up on my data, is it worth it? Of course not. Each of these services I drop is one less piece of mental clutter, more space on my hard drive, and—yes—less data I’m giving up for free to some venture-backed startup company that’s just going to get eaten by Facebook or Google in a year or two. Which is why I stick with tracking stuff that focuses on actionable data. If I know I’m spending two hours a week on Facebook, or Tweetbot is my most used iPhone app, that’s actionable data.” —

A Few More Thoughts On Self-Tracking - Sanspoint. - Essays on Technology and Culture by Richard J. Anderson

I’ve been mentioning Quantified Self A LOT in recent professional development workshops, but I’m very aware of the fact that it’s hard to get into a deeper conversation about it with people who are new to the notion of self-tracking without a) a relatively easy pathway to collect meaningful data-points and b) a relatively easy way to visualise, correlate and learn from said data.

Yes, I sport a Jawbone UP for physical activity and sleep, and I use Moves on the iPhone primarily to map my movements day to day (with a little bit of added context for categories of movement— walking, running, cycling, driving etc). Moves, through some internet wizardry that I can’t even remember how I set up, sends data to Runkeeper, which loops back to my UP account. But that’s just physical activity. There’s an entire other layer of activity I’d like to be able to report on, but only if I can find the easiest meaningful way to do it…

Aug 21

“The thing about life in the real world is, all your hopes and dreams and desires and feelings are trapped inside you. Reality doesn’t care — it’s stiffly, primly indifferent to your inner life. But in a fantasy world, all those feelings can come out. When you cast a spell, you use your desires and emotions to change reality. You reshape the outer world to look more like your inner world. You have demons in your subconscious? In a fantasy world those demons can get out, where you can grapple with them face to face. The story I was telling was impossible, and I believed in it more than I believed in the 10,000 entirely reasonable, plausible things I’d written before. Fantasy is sometimes dismissed as childish, or escapist, but I take what I am doing very, very seriously. For me fantasy isn’t about escaping from reality, it’s about re-encountering the challenges of the real world, but externalized and transformed. It’s an emotionally raw genre — it forces you to lay yourself open on the page. It doesn’t traffic in ironies and caveats. When you cast a spell you can’t be kidding, you have to mean it.” —

Finding My Voice in Fantasy - NYTimes.com

Mmmm. Throwing fuel on the spark of a desire to experiment with sic-fi poetry and/or short fiction…

so far, it has raised over 10 million dollars… and counting. my mom has spent every single day of her life for the past three decades trying to get this kind of attention and funds for this disease.

i don’t care if it’s a stupid gimmick. i don’t care if people are just doing this because it’s trendy or because they want pats on the back. i don’t care if it’s the new harlem shake. i don’t care if for the rest of my life, when i talk about ALS, i have to say “you know, the ice bucket disease.”

please, everybody, please keep pouring buckets of ice over your heads. please keep donating money. please keep talking about this.

” —

amy phillips: on the ice bucket challenge

I’ve seen a number of posts on the internet speaking out against the ice-bucket thing, and how the challenge has little to do with the disease. And then: this. Go read the whole post for the full story.

Attention is currency.

Aug 20

(via A Softer World: 1137)

(via A Softer World: 1137)

Aug 19

“Freed of my compulsive student ticks, I actually read the poem.” —

THE POEM: Jack Kerouac’s 11th Chorus of Desolation Blues | B O D Y

And: “…there’s value to playing around and seeing what I can do when I’m not trying to please. And there’s value to knowing that I’m utterly free, free as empty space, and I don’t have to be cautious, don’t have to be serious, don’t ever, ever have to be anybody else’s idea of poetry.”