Like Daniel, I’m guilty of trying to use data to explain changes. I’ve used a variety of apps in the past, (Nike+, myFitnessPal, Mint, even an old fashioned pedometer), and tried to make sense of the effects they have on weight, physical fitness, spending habits, and my general mood. But am I attempting to quantify myself, or gamify it?
In class, we seemed to spin around the idea of data collected by one’s self and data rearranged by others. A QSer, described by “their enthusiasm for thinking and talking about tracking itself”, would see data as reason enough to collect, as something compelling to have. Whitson’s argument about gamification however, transforms this data into “games that promise to help me become a more productive worker and prolific writer.” (1). Both of these uses of data serve a different purpose, but hint at some overall knowledge. The difference is that one requires the person taking it to determine what is useful or not, while the other allows a system to connect the dots for them. As someone who uses myFitnessPal to monitor what I’m eating, I’m allowing the software of the App to determine which data chunks are most important. MyFitnessPal places the most emphasis on calories, and therefore creates the largest and most prominent goals on staying around a certain number. Had I chosen to create my own system to record these things, I could have focused on any other aspect of nutrition, such as protein or percent vitamins, which would probably fuel into a goal not centered on weight loss/gain, but some other health thing.
Could I put together my own spreadsheet of information, track and sort the data, and draw a conclusion from it? Without any outside knowledge, attempting to draw a conclusion would be my personal downfall. It’s easy to see how these apps are social, and a game, but they are also a powerful tool. Potentially a tool for marketers, as Daniel mentions, but ultimately more useful to me as the consumer. I suppose my nerdery isn’t strong enough to research every aspect of known health and dietary advice, and that’s ultimately why I gamify my data. I let the designers create the goals that they think I should have, and trust their judgement. Perhaps naïve, but it suits what I need.
This is a small sample of what you can find for trying to lose weight from YouTube. Based on the 4,020,000 videos, there’s a lot of theories out there. I could either watch all results, or use an app designed for it.