A1.2: Self-Tracking Projects Review

Week 1

Review of a few projects relating to self-tracking and the quantified self

Rocio Chongtay: “Quantified Brain and Music for Self-Tuning”

Description: While studying for a Masters in Artificial Intelligence, Rocio Chongtay noticed she had trouble concentrating with background noise , total silence or music with lyrics or catchy beats playing. She also realized specific music helped her focus and cancelled out background distraction. Chongtay experimented different types of music while quantifying her levels of concentration and relaxation using  a BCI (brain computer interface) visualizer by Neurosky.  The EEG (electroencephalography) sensor  monitors 8 different brain waves and integrates with iTunes to measure brain electrical activity while listening to different music. After quantifying her own brain, Chongtay was able to identify high productivity levels and create an ideal playlist based on self-tuning.

Source for graphic: Vimeo 1:00

Broader Significance: Music can be used as a tool for motivation and inspiration. Research suggests that pleasurable music releases dopamine in the brain.  Playlist could be  created and used specifically for depression and productivity.

Why it’s interesting to me: Music is a huge part of my life and I usually try to integrate it into everything I do.  I also have concentration issues based on the type of music playing, similar to Rocio Chongtay. “Self-tuning” would be a great tool to find and monitor motivators while listening to different music.

Peter Torelli: “The Quickening. Narratives Hidden in 20 Years of Personal Financial Data”

Description: Peter Torelli tracked his financial data for 20 years, starting with manually logging transactions in Quattro Pro spreadsheets and  saving the data on floppy disks to data residing on Quicken servers. Torelli’s spending trends revealed more than his financial transactions; the data also displayed visceral memories and pivotal moments in his life.

Source for graphic: hidden-stories-20-years-financial-data

Source for graphic: Vimeo 4:48

Broader Significance: Collecting financial data is a representation of spending habits but data also has the potential to show specific patterns and highlight changes in habits caused by life events. This could be helpful for making decisions indirectly related to spending.

Why it’s interesting to me: In a perfect world, I would track my spending, monitor my habits and make better decisions based on data available. Torelli ‘s story is instructive and motivates me to become more conscious of my spending decisions.

Steven Jonas: Spaced Listening

Description: Steven Jonas has a short attention span for listening to albums the first time around. He believes his brain rejects unfamiliar music and prevents him from listening a second time. Jonas developed a “spaced listening” system using a tool called Anki to remind him to play new music and google forms to track his listening experience. The tools helped him appreciate new music and overcome rejection of novelty.


Source for graphic: Steven Jonas: Spaced Listening

Broader Significance: Opens up a listeners ability to experience and appreciate  different genres of music.

Why it’s interesting to me: I love late 90’s hip hop so naturally I tend to listen to music from that era the most. Jonas provides great suggestions and ways to broaden my musical palette.