Inside Big Data Week Chicago 2014: A Practical Look at Self-tracking, Wearable Technology, and the Quantified Self

At 11: 10 am on May 7th, Eugene Granovsky is ready to help the public at large understand more about the idea of Quantified Self, wearable technology, and it’s affect on us.  His Big Data Week presentation, “The Quantified Self World From an Individual’s Perspective” will explore these issues, which range from the lifetime value of tracking to the lack of accurate data.

As the number of QS products and services explode, both the research and entrepreneur communities are still largely ignoring a number of core tracking issues. Granovsky will look at the issues individuals face within self-tracking. There are a number of major ones, such as the lack of accuracy of these devices, the surprisingly small lifetime value of most devices, how much context matters, privacy, and the Hawthorne effect.

We asked him a few questions about Quantified Self and what Big Data Week viewers will learn from his presentation.

Q:  Quantified Self is a relatively new term.  Where did it come from, and how does it relate to an everyday life? 

 Quantified Self is defined as “self-knowledge through self-tracking”, or “self-knowledge through numbers.” So as a concept, it’s not new at all – think of how long home personal weight scales have existed. However, the term was born in 2008 from a group in SF that noticed how many new devices were available for self-tracking, and started the first meetup to share their experiences.

Q: What is the Hawthorne Effect, and how does it relate to the long-term effectiveness of Quantified Self?

When people know they’re being tracked or monitored by an external entity, such as a device or your boss, they tend to behave in the way that the entity expects or wants them to behave. In QS, this translates to the surprising fact that quite often, the numbers that are being tracked are irrelevant – just wearing a fitbit every day could change your behavior!

Q: Without giving too much away, what are 1 or 2 things that a viewer will learn or take away from your presentation?

How unique each individual is. While there are certainly similarities, I have yet to meet a self-tracker with the same tracking goals and methods, and we’ll go into detail of why that’s the case.

Big Data Week in Chicago is a partnership between Cook County Government and BLUE 1647.  (http://blue1647.com).   BLUE1647 is a Pilsen-based entrepreneurship and technology innovation center focused on education (through classes and workshops), workforce development (through apprentices and internships), and economic development in technology and 21st century skills. Most events will take place at BLUE 1647 (http://blue1647.com).


For more information about the events taking place visit: https://bigdataweek.com, https://bigdataweek.com/chicago or follow Big Data Week on Twitter at @CHGbigdataweek,  @bigdataweek.  Big Data Week uses hash tags #bdw14, and #bdw14chi.

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