I’ve been challenging myself to do something beyond helping curate speakers and organizing Quantified Self Amsterdam together with Maarten and Joost, which results in a new talk each time. Presented were the results and ruminations on and off topic around memory, more specifically, from 2 months of field research, spending every Tuesday evening with my mate Bas. This led to the insight in applying a software development methodology, version control systems, to the Self.

Programmers are raised these days on geek tools like Github to make sure they can work together without destroying each others work for each new software release cycle. After a release or new version occurs, new functionalities and code ideas recommence. This is done via a system of ‘branches’ connected to a main ‘trunk’ of code. Each new version selectively incorporates code ‘commits’ from these branches back into the trunk which are then released in a new code version. My point was in wandering what we get if we exchange code for our most personal memories and software versioning switched for rites-of- passage, key events, turning points in how we decide who we are. Each age transposes its current orientating metaphors on the sedimentation of human knowledge. What will ‘the network’ and ‘computation’ do to our sense of Self and how we look at our history? What impact will it have on our identity formation process?

Check out the other speakers from our recent event held at Mediamatic.

Here’s a recent talk i gave at Quantified Self Amsterdam #1.

James Burke – Applying analytics to relationships from Quantified Self Amsterdam on Vimeo.

Quantifying relationships can sound creepy, although in this case it was not. My girlfriend and i started a weekly ritual while waiting for dim sum. As a couple in a LAT relationship, the weekly review seemed somehow an organic way to keep up with each other next to phone calls or the occasional meetup. At some point later, we started a new behavior, adding an event or situation on a piece of paper and then each of us awarding or subtracting points. We were still relatively early in getting to know each other, perhaps at a place near stage two of Sara Shultz’s model that inks out the various phases couples generally encounter and transition through in relationships. The quantification aspect was really enabling each us to share our individual perceptions in the vessel of our weekly review. This led to both of us acknowledging and then modifying (in some cases) our behavior. We continued this practice for a transitory 3 months.

Here are the slides.

I’m now thinking more about the models of relationships which necessitates digging into the research rather than a 5 minute google search, to uncover academic insights on human personal relationship formation. At the same time, i’m keeping a healthy sense of disbelief and analyzing my own thoughts and feelings to discern whether other filters or metaphors would shed new light on how we look at our personal relationships? Having given this talk, I’ve caught myself and dominique, adding and subtracting points from each other yet again. What is the medium to longer term impact of this practice on our time together? Is there a healthy future for analytics and incentive structures of the digital kind when applied to personal relationships? Will the adverse affects, on average, outweigh the benefits?

I have been thinking about the self-tracking space for quite some years so it was a pleasant surprise when Kevin Kelly and Gary Wolf started their eponymous Quantified Self site and meetups. This site, lifesized.net, used to contain the by-line,”Measuring hearts and minds”. It therefore seemed a natural fit to want to connect with QS global and host an event here in Amsterdam, which thanks to reaching out to Joshua Kauffman and Alexandra Carmichael is now confirmed for September 20th. It’s a collaboration between myself, Maarten den Braber and Joost Plattel.

This first in a series of NL based “show & tell” meetups is for people interested in self-tracking, personal informatics.

Quantified Self is a collaboration of users and tool makers who share an interest in self knowledge through self-tracking.

This is a regular show and tell for people taking advantage of various kinds of personal tracking – geotracking, life-logging, DNA sequencing, etc. – to gain more knowledge about themselves. Come share what you are doing, and learn from others. Topics include, but are not limited to:

Chemical Body Load Counts, Personal Genome Sequencing, Lifelogging, Self Experimentation, Risks/Legal Rights/Duties, Behavior monitoring, Location tracking, Non-invasive Probes, Digitizing Body Info, Sharing Health Records, Psychological Self-Assesments, Medical Self-Diagnostics.

We are actively looking for people who:
- are building or have built hardware or software
- have a story to tell of their own self-tracking

Contact us via this site’s contact form or via the QS in the Netherlands site.