Thursday, September 12, 2013

Personal analytics: tracking yourself

Major technology trends these days tend to lead from the ground up. Consumer adoption is followed by corporate adoption. iPads arrived in the living room long before tablets appeared in the office.

So what about big data? Will personal analytics end up driving BI?

Wolfram Alpha creator Stephen Wolfram has experimented with this, but given his PhD in Particle Physics he's hardly a layperson.

To what extent, then, are we seeing regular individuals tracking different data sets in their lives, and analysing them? Here are some interesting ways:

1. Diet & fitness
FitDay records nutritional intake, activity, mood and custom data, and spits out charts showing nutrient deficiencies or calories vs mood.

2. Conception
Fertility Friend allows women to compare and overlay menstrual cycles with those of thousands of other women, to analyse why they may be struggling to conceive.

3. Infant care
Numerous apps, like iBaby Log, help new parents capture and analyse information about their newborns, to figure out correlations between feeding and sleep.

4. Happiness
MoodPanda records and creates a graph of your mood, which you can compare against the entire world's mood, or the mood of your geographic area.

5. Money
Mint pulls in information from different financial accounts, and graphs how much you are spending in different categories at different times.

If you're interested in turning your own life into a graph, try these sites:

Personal Informatics
Measured Me
your.flowingdata (YFD)
12 apps to track, share and visualise peronal data
Wolfram Alpha Personal Analytics for Facebook

What will really propel the wider use of personal analytics is ease of capture: making the data collection effortless.

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