2013 Fuel Annual Report Says I Was Lazy
Appified things, smart stuff or service avatars (whatever you would like to call them) like Nike Fuelband are making the world, and our behavior in it, more "real" than ever before. Although they take form as a digital overlay, their (ever) presence can in some ways give us a more "true" reflection of our behavior than our memories or biases could otherwise accept. I recently downloaded my own 2013 Fuel Annual Report–a lovely data visualization of my last year of activity–and had two immediate reactions: disappointment and defensiveness.
I was disappointed because although 2013 was a more active year for me than 2012, it was a hard reality to accept that I had exactly 1% (10 min) of exercise per day and only .6 workouts per week. Numbers like that make it difficult to believe you're healthy. On the other hand, I was defensive because my Fuel report didn't accurately reflect all of my activity. Sometime my Fuelband was out of juice, sometimes I forgot to wear it, and other times, it flew off my wrist as I played basketball. The annual report measured what it could when it had power and when it was on my wrist. But what about all of those other times?
We can reasonably assume that as we jump forward five or so years, we'll have access to wearable computing devices that are both more comfortable and less intrusive, especially in the fitness and health spaces. As others have noted, we’re moving to an era of everything that can be measured being measured. Health is an obvious focus but each aspect of our lives will ultimately be introduced to this type of constant measurement and feedback loop.
Are we ready to face our own behavior as brazenly as Fuelband or a Withings Scale will reflect? The founders of the Quantified Self movement were a reflective bunch, really focused on trying to understand themselves and their impact on the world. Are we all ready to have this (sometimes harsh) reflection? A related aspect of QS is the assumed recommendation and decision-making support it affords. If our children grow up in a world where every decision they make is based in some way on the recommendation of an algorithm, how do we teach them to make good decisions and judgements independently?
These are important questions. They are big questions. We have yet to answer them.
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