Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Quantified Self 2011: Mental World/Breakouts and Thoughts

The mental world stuff is really my bread and butter, so it'll likely be more detailed. Also, some of these are notes from breakout sessions.

Mood tracking
Moodscope apparently has a lot of users, but I don't like it at all. It tries to reduce your mood to a number, and the mood-tracking system is a really painful series of 20 ratings with too many page reloads.
- More interesting is Moodlog: it's freeform, just enter any word(s) you want. Also, you can add colors, which is more fun than it might sound.
- There's also MercuryApp, which I haven't tried.

Also, PACO by Bob Evans (an engineer, not the restaurant) is a system to help you do experience tracking on Android. For example, ask yourself "how energetic are you?" 5x/day. Here's a link; it 403s now but he hopes to open it up this week. This is super exciting; I'd been doing this but PACO is strictly more useful. (I hope the input is still quick, but I imagine it will be.)

Attention tracking: Matt Trentacoste's linked to all the notes about this session. (more detailed notes too.) Cool thoughts:
- a lot of the measurement of this is really productivity measurement
- there's some hope in EEG measurement; Neurosky is working on this
- maybe being able to pay attention is less important than being able to direct attention (e.g. ADHD)
- could we tell when distraction begins?
- there's also hope in psychological tests (SART? N-Back?)

Personal text analysisSlides and notes. Coolest bits:
- in the Nun Study, some folks found that diary entries could predict Alzheimer's by measuring idea density.
- you can measure idea density yourself, using CPIDR.
- the LENA foundation has a baby monitor that monitors your child's development.

Mindfulness: Notes. A lot of ideas here; Frank Chen's main push is that technologies that want to support mindfulness should focus on not only attention, but also intention and attitude. Help the user do the right thing, with the right goal, in the right frame of mind. Cool things:
- Harvard maid study; maids who thought they were getting good exercise lost weight, compared to other maids who did the same thing.
- what happens if you frame Kinect dancing games as exercise vs. framing them as games?

Cognition: Don't try to just "improve mental performance"; it's too vague. However, some good tools:
Anki (spaced repetition)
- Lumosity ("brain training games"- might work for some goals?)
- interestingly, this just came up in Newsweek, and their conclusion was that exercise and meditation were really the only general improving-brain solutions.

Behavior Change and Games: two breakouts. Thoughts mostly here.
- Livifi: an interesting idea. Track ALL the goals. I sure can't do it. (I am not being sarcastic.)

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