Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Measuring Life (cont.)

Not too long ago, I blogged about self-surveillance and I've made some informative observations since then.  Starting off, my biggest concern was what to measure.  There's a trade-off between the time it takes to log information and the value you receive from collecting it.  Ideally, it'd be nice to have another me to collect all the information about me; but that's just silly.

I started doing it for nutrition, so I knew that I was going to track everything I eat and drink.  But, I can log other information, so... what else?  Well, I began by logging when I go to sleep and wake up, when I start and finish showering, when I start and finish brushing my teeth, when I start and finish watching tv/movies/jtv, when I start and stop working, and when I start and stop driving.

So, these particular points are all durations.  The sleep duration makes sense.  I still log my showering duration, which doesn't make much sense, but I haven't come to dropping it like I have brushing, watching and driving.  Working is a bit special, but I still log that duration.

So what happened?  Why did I choose to drop driving, but not showering?  I tried to just let my inclinations (amount of nuisance) drive what data I collect.  Brushing takes about 2-3 min each time, so there's no need to track that.  Logging my "watching" habits was not convenient enough - I don't know (even generally) when I might watch tv or a movie... it doesn't seem like a "structured-enough" action.  I've concluded about the same for my driving habits - mostly I forget to log the arriving time.  I figure (when cars include standard wireless internet), I'll be able to write a script that logs this info automagically.

So far, I've realized that logging my life is and will be a journey.  I need to explore the aspects that are important and what I can and can't log about those aspects.  For example, all of my receipts that I save (along with Blippy, if needed) gives me a financial record of my life.  Right now, the trick appears to be automation, which I don't do at all yet.  With time, I hope to figure out useful ways to collect the most valuable information.

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