PLEDGE NOW
The Quantified Self

Online apps can now track our moods, relationships, exercise and health. We look at the “Digital Self,” and where it’s taking us.

photo illustration (Alex Kingsbury/WBUR)

photo illustration (Alex Kingsbury/WBUR)

There’s a vision out there, which you may or may not share, of a digital self.  A quantified self.  That is, the human body and life – maybe yours – tracked and measured and monitored 24/7 by wireless apps – in a wrist band, on your belt, in your bag – gathering data on you.

Your blood pressure.  Your heart rate.  Your sleep patterns.  Your exercise.  Your diet.  Your moods.    Your habits.  Your life.  Enthusiasts greet that vision – that  reality – like the next step in evolution.  We will know ourselves.  And be transformed.  Skeptics wonder.

This hour, On Point:  becoming the quantified, digital self.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Gary Wolf, co-founder of the Quantified Self Movement, which has followers nationally and internationally and grew out of a blog started in 2008 that helps users find apps and devices to track almost everything about themselves.

Eric Topol, professor in the Department of Molecular and Experimental Medicine at The Scripps Institute of Medicine. He’s the author of the new book The Creative Destruction of Medicine: How The Digital Revolution Will Create Better Healthcare.

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times “Humans make errors. We make errors of fact and errors of judgment. We have blind spots in our field of vision and gaps in our stream of attention. Sometimes we can’t even answer the simplest questions. Where was I last week at this time? How long have I had this pain in my knee? How much money do I typically spend in a day? These weaknesses put us at a disadvantage. We make decisions with partial information. We are forced to steer by guesswork. We go with our gut.”

Technology Review  “Do you know how much REM sleep you got last night? New types of devices that monitor activity, sleep, diet, and even mood could make us healthier and more productive.”

The Atlantic “This may sound like a lot of information for a very small person, but it’s typical grist for apps designed to tally a baby’s every blink and burp and sniffle, in hopes of charting his development over time. Among Baby Connect’s competitors are Total Baby, Baby Log, iBabyLog, Evoz, and the new Bedtime app from Johnson’s Baby, as well as Web-based programs such as Trixie Tracker (which an enterprising stay-at-home dad named after his daughter).”

Life-Quantifying Apps

Here’s a selection of apps and programs that can help quantify your life.

  • Sleep Cycle The Sleep Cycle alarm clock is a bio-alarm clock that analyzes your sleep patterns and wakes you when you are in the lightest sleep phase. It aims to make you wake up more refreshed.
  • Facebook Timeline The social networking site now includes a timeline feature that puts your interactions with the site and your network of friends in chronological order.
  • Fitbit A machine that tracks your sleep and physical activity.
  • Meal Snap Take a photo of the food you eat and this app — amazingly — can figure out how many calories you’ve consumed.
  • Honestly Now helps you make decisions by getting you the answers you want to your burning questions.
  • What Pulse This app tracks your keyboard and mouse use.
  • Mood Scope This app records your daily mood, tracks it over time, and can be integrated with your friends — with the aim of improving your well-being.
  • Mint An online tool to track your financial transactions.
  • Waterlogged This app keeps track of how much water you’re drinking each day.
  • My Pregnancy Today Track your pregnancy with this app.
  • Baby Connect records information about your newborn: feeding (bottle, nursing, solid, pumping), diapers, sleep, mood, activities, milestones, health, medicines, vaccines, photos, and more.
  • Azumio This app measures and records your stress levels.

Excerpt: The Creative Destruction of Medicine

Use the navigation bar at the bottom of this frame to reformat the excerpt to best suit your reading experience.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
May 28, 2015
Protesters congregate in front of city hall Tuesday, May 26, 2015, in Cleveland. Members of about 40 churches are protesting the acquittal of a white patrolman charged in the deaths of two unarmed black motorists with a march through downtown Cleveland. (AP)

The new Cleveland standard of American policing. Will it stop abuse? Will it get the job done?

May 28, 2015
Ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi raises his hands as he sits behind glass in a courtroom, in a converted lecture hall in the national police academy in an eastern Cairo suburb, Egypt, Saturday, May 16, 2015. (AP)

Sentenced to death in Egypt for espionage, respected academic Emad Shahin joins us with a big take on Egypt, ISIS and America’s response.

RECENT
SHOWS
May 27, 2015
The logo from the new film, "(Dis)Honesty," which is also the logo for the Dishonesty Project. (The Dishonesty Project)

Are we natural born liars? Is it human to lie? Inside the new documentary, ” (Dis)Honesty: The Truth About Lies.”

 
May 27, 2015
Two persons are reflected in the FIFA logo at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, Wednesday, May 27, 2015. Swiss prosecutors opened criminal proceedings into FIFA's awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, only hours after seven soccer officials were arrested Wednesday pending extradition to the U.S. in a separate probe of "rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted" corruption. (AP)

Top officials at soccer’s international governing body FIFA arrested in Switzerland today on charges of racketeering, wire fraud, money laundering and bribery. We’ll dig in.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
A Former Bike Gang Member Explains "The Life"
Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Larry called in from Lawrenceburg, KY and told us he was once a member of the Pagan’s Motorcycle Club, a mid-Atlantic biker gang. He didn’t sugar coat the facts as he explained the draw of the brotherhood and what makes the outlaw motorcycle corner the underworld go round.

More »
1 Comment
 
Our Week In The Web: May 15, 2015
Friday, May 15, 2015

We cancel a few hours and suddenly all of you get convinced of a global radio conspiracy! Plus, dragon zoos.

More »
1 Comment
 
Caller: ‘It Doesn’t Always Turn Out Okay’
Wednesday, May 13, 2015

One caller shares her own story of an extremely premature birth. Her daughter, born at 22 1/2 weeks in 2012, was taken off life support after seven days.

More »
Comment