Monday, March 12, 2012

Personal Analytics


Stephen Wolfram, best known as the creator of Mathematica and Wolfram Alpha recently posted some of his personal analytics on his blog.  He has about 20 years worth of data that he can analyze.  For example, he looks at the time of day that he sent each of the ~300,000 emails that he has sent since 1989.
It is kind of interesting to see the patterns in the data.  For instance, The large white band seems to show that he sleeps from about 3am to 11am, although from 1996 to about 2002 he seemed to drift even later and sleep from 8am to 2pm.  He is definitely a night owl.  You can even see a light band at about 7pm the probably represents dinnertime.  You can even see a trip to europe that he took in 2009.

By the end of his post he has put together information from emails, keystrokes, his calendar, phone calls and even pedometer steps.  With all this data he is able to piece together a story about the rhythms of his life.  As a musician, I like the idea that my life may have a rhythm.

I like this idea of studying the data I have collected about myself to understand myself better.  Without even thinking about it I've generated a rich database of information about my own behavior.  Ultimately, I'd like to have a process that analyzes this data and lets me know when there are new trends or changes in behavior, just so that I aware that I'm changing.

The scary part of this is that there are others that may do the same thing with my data.  For example, it is Google's goal in life to collect as much information about me as they can so that they can study me in great detail, understand me at some level and ultimately sell me stuff.  Of course, the Google motto is "do no evil" so I'm sure we have nothing to worry about.

At any rate, Stephen Wolfram's blog post is an interesting read.