A break-up in Quantified Self

The fifth edition of the Quantified Self Amsterdam meetups took place in Mediamatic on Monday May 21. It was hot and humid outside and melting inside. Quite a bunch of the 100 registered attendees showed up. It was a pleasant evening with lots of good people around and some fine talks.

Reflecting through these talks on the Quantified Self attitude is interesting. Merel Brouns showed a marvellous piece of tangible registry of life. 365 days divided by the hour, captured in drawings, notes and colored tape. This piece of QS art is really a fine representation of all QS people that found pleasure and fulfilment in the registry itself. That is a very important part for a lot of the people doing these kind of activities. The learning of life emerges from the act not from the result in the end. Something the presentation on DIYbiology underlines too.

On the other hand we had a great talk of Taco Ekkel, who just have delivered the Goodmove app to the Apple appstore. Apart from the very insightfull learnings on the struggle with Apples protocols his app stands for a different approach to QS; automated insights. No inputs are required to get insights on your carbon footprint, just by having the app on your iPhone. It is in that sense the opposite of the work of Merel.

He also showed the Nest as one of the few owners in the Netherlands. The hurdles you have to take to connect a smart device out of his context (no support for Dutch wires, no Amsterdam time support) made even more clear how hard it is to make a real smart device.

In his 5 laws for Quantified Self services he underlined the importance of creating real solutions against no effort. The presentation of the heart monitor was for me personal a proof of some aspects that especially are against those rules. However that is probably percieved differently for everyone.

I’m sure it is. I am not the most fanatic QS person; carrying the Fitbit around for so long is a miracle. A thought I had earlier the evening before going to the attent fits my qs experience. I checked in at the falafel place nearby and in the mood of selftracking I added in the tweet my falafel I ordered and ate. It would be great if could have Foodzy tracking my tweets and deducting the mentioning of the falafel, and proposing me via a notication if I want to add it to my foodzy profile. Frictionless.

I really think the Quantified Self movement can divide into two streams. On the one hand we keep the self quantifiers that want to learn from active tracking. On the other hand we see the quantifying merging in the ubiquitous data collection of all kind of services, adding up to my profile that enhance the services themselves. QS will be super important in the first stage for letting people understand what happens during collecting the data.
For me personally this last route fits the most my feeling and interest to keep following the QS developments.

(See also my tweets during the event)

Published by


I am a design director at Structural. I curate and organize ThingsCon Netherlands and I am chairman of the Cities of Things Foundation. Before I was innovation and strategy director at tech and innovation agency INFO, visiting researcher and lab director at the Delft University of Technology coordinating Cities of Things Delft Design Lab.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s