The Most Measured Era in History
We’re living in the most measured era in history.
Are you the beneficiary of any of the data you’re generating?
You optimize what you measure.
One of the most data intensive self-improvement projects I undertook was in 2005. I recorded everything I ate and every exercise I did. And did I ever optimize – to the point where my joints couldn’t keep up with the muscle and bone growth. It was a massive amount of work to record all that detail, the weights of various things and then to cross reference with the USDA database. Then it all had to get loaded into SPSS for analysis. It was brutally time intensive. But it did generate incredible evidence-based insights about the way my body worked.
Those insights formed heuristics. The no-fry principle. The 100g daily protein target. The outer aisles principle for super market shopping.
The friction and time intensity ultimately meant that measurement receded.
It’s 2011. The recording and the cross-referencing should be made better why way of mobile apps, so I’m looking forward to less friction on that front.
The transferability of data from that device into a format that can be read by SPSS or Python is a lingering problem.
Ideally, a machine would be able to make some sense of the data on my behalf. That is another, wonderful, opportunity.
In many ways, I should be the beneficiary of the data I generate. If I want to benefit other groups, like researchers, then so much the better.
It’s my hope that more developers will partner up with statisticians to produce incredible data driven systems that provide real utility to people. That people can use to make themselves better and save a lot of time. There will always be other beneficiaries of that data – after all – if the product is free, you are the product. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially with consent. It’s a good thing.
We should all benefit from the data we’re generating ourselves, for ourselves.