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The Numbers of a Life

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the plotting-out-a-person dept.

Stats 98

porsche911 points out a recent post by Stephen Wolfram in which he plots out data on his communication habits collected over a period of years — or in some cases, decades. He presents visualizations of the times and frequency of a third of a million emails since 1989, 100 million keystrokes since 2002, phone calls, meetings, modification times on his personal files, and even the number of footsteps he takes in a day. It provides some interesting correlations and insights into the structure of a person's life, and how that structure shifts over the years. He says, "What is the future for personal analytics? There is so much that can be done. Some of it will focus on large-scale trends, some of it on identifying specific events or anomalies, and some of it on extracting 'stories' from personal data. And in time I'm looking forward to being able to ask Wolfram|Alpha all sorts of things about my life and times—and have it immediately generate reports about them. Not only being able to act as an adjunct to my personal memory, but also to be able to do automatic computational history—explaining how and why things happened—and then making projections and predictions. As personal analytics develops, it’s going to give us a whole new dimension to experiencing our lives."

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Someone should apply this to his data (5, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#39300469)

If ((age IS GREATER THAN 25) & (number-of-times-laid IS LESS THAN (age-16)) || number-of-times-laid IS LESS THAN number-of-times-starwars-seen)
      {
      Loser = true;
      }

Re:Someone should apply this to his data (3, Funny)

trongey (21550) | more than 2 years ago | (#39300579)

If ((age IS GREATER THAN 25) & (number-of-times-laid IS LESS THAN (age-16)) || number-of-times-laid IS LESS THAN number-of-times-starwars-seen)

      {

      Loser = true;

      }

Actually that function has a non-unique solution.
Married=true and Married&Loser=true both satisfy the conditions.

Re:Someone should apply this to his data (3, Funny)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#39300607)

His name is known to millions of struggling female math students around the world. That he's apparently married [nndb.com] might be the only thing holding him back in that field.

Re:Someone should apply this to his data (1)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 2 years ago | (#39368993)

His name is known to millions of struggling female math students around the world.

suppose that's why I've never heard of him, let me find a struggling female student and ask her....

Re:Someone should apply this to his data (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39300925)

if (age 25 && numberOfTimesLaid age16 || numberOfTimesLaid numberOfStarwarsSeen) {
        loser = true;
}

FTFY.

Re:Someone should apply this to his data (1)

Eponymous Hero (2090636) | more than 2 years ago | (#39301811)

if(mySyntax == yourSyntax){ Anonymous Coward = loser; }

FTFY (notice it's not a strict comparison)

Re:Someone should apply this to his data (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 2 years ago | (#39301263)

number-of-times-starwars-seen

This made me imagine an old grizzled Wolfram asking a geek: What is your favorite Star Wars movie?
Geek: The Empire Strikes Back... No! Phantom Menace...

[Geek is flung into Loser canyon] AAAaaauuuugghhhh...
Wolfram: Analytics... this time it's personal.

Re:Someone should apply this to his data (1)

RussellSHarris (1385323) | more than 2 years ago | (#39302453)

(number-of-times-laid IS LESS THAN (age-16))

You used a token named "number-of-times-laid" and then you used "age-16" when you meant a token named "age" MINUS 16.

I want to stab you in the face right now...

Re:Someone should apply this to his data (1)

davewoods (2450314) | more than 2 years ago | (#39352849)

This is why I never bothered to learn any coding at all (Except BASIC, but that was forever ago)
That way when people make code-based jokes, I can follow along, but I do not realize their dumb errors.

Re:Someone should apply this to his data (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | more than 2 years ago | (#39369761)

if number-of-times-laid = 0
goto 16

Re:Someone should apply this to his data (1)

davewoods (2450314) | more than 2 years ago | (#39376521)

ooooh noooooooooo. Whhyyyyyyyy?

Re:Someone should apply this to his data (1)

mugurel (1424497) | more than 2 years ago | (#39369411)

Give him a break, he had no time to debug.

Re:Someone should apply this to his data (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39369575)

Apparently, you couldn't even get this right.

Obviously the age condition most be satisfied for either of the other conditions to be significant. Otherwise, young children who've seen all the Star Wars movies would be considered losers, unless they were also very sexual precocious.

I suggest:
if((age > 25) && (starwars>sex || age sex)) { // ...
}

Sorry, but the conclusion is wrong! (1, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 2 years ago | (#39300519)

"As personal analytics develops, itâ(TM)s going to give us a whole new dimension to experiencing our lives."

Here's a clue - if that would "give a whole new dimension to experiencing your life", you need to step away from the keyboard and get a life!.

Re:Sorry, but the conclusion is wrong! (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#39300751)

After an exhaustive study of Dr. Wolfram's personal habits, science has concluded that we're twenty years too late.

Re:Sorry, but the conclusion is wrong! (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#39300865)

He's sure that he's a cellular automaton, this is all just an elaborate plan to get somebody to work out his rule number for him...

Re:Sorry, but the conclusion is wrong! (4, Informative)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#39301209)

I'm guessing it's some kind of Class 2 [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Sorry, but the conclusion is wrong! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39301303)

C'mon, nerds with points, mod parent up! This is awesome.

Re:Sorry, but the conclusion is wrong! (4, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#39302227)

Leave him alone. He has a vision, he's doing what he likes, and apparently makes a good living at it. And there's a better-than-normal chance he'll find something interesting to the world at large, too.

Re:Sorry, but the conclusion is wrong! (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 2 years ago | (#39308205)

Leave him alone

If he wanted to be left alone, all he had to do was SHUT UP! Same as if Shuttlewirth doesn't want to be criticized, he should stop making stupid announcements that are a joke - like his latest brainfart about Ubuntu "out-innovating" Apple and Microsoft.

Re:Sorry, but the conclusion is wrong! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39305885)

Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc, Steve. As personal analytics develops, it's going to give __some_poor_unborn__ a whole new reason to hate Steve Wolfram.

More useful than you think (5, Interesting)

mws1066 (1057218) | more than 2 years ago | (#39300525)

At first glance, the whole idea of personal analytics seems kind of worthless. But imagine comparing analytics among populations and drawing correlations between habits, lifestyle choices, and diseases. That could be a helpful step toward the kind of preventative health care we need as a people. Lifestyle choices matter a lot more than the strictly-retroactive fix-me-up-after-my-heart-clogs-up-with-french-fry-grease healthcare that much of the US and I'm sure other countries seem to encourage.

Re:More useful than you think (4, Interesting)

daem0n1x (748565) | more than 2 years ago | (#39300553)

Better yet, correlate the data with happiness.

Re:More useful than you think (3, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#39300699)

Nothing in the budget for that; but the wonderful folks in the advertising and intelligence sectors will be glad to offer an array of custom-tailored consumer products and law enforcement solutions...

Re:More useful than you think (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39301613)

Dude, this is Stephen Wolfram. Storing all that data and making all those graphs provided him with more bliss than I experience from a year of lazy Sunday afternoons.

Re:More useful than you think (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#39303591)

the data indicates a strong correlation between avoiding personal analytics and other related neurotic distractions, and happiness

Re:More useful than you think (2)

Pope (17780) | more than 2 years ago | (#39300795)

We already have preventative, holistic health care in the West. Have for decades. People are simply too lazy or arrogant to change themselves.

Keeping tabs on how mail emails you've written over your lifetime is fucking pointless.

Re:More useful than you think (1)

daem0n1x (748565) | more than 2 years ago | (#39300987)

You can never think about social issues at the individual scale. Preventative, holistic health care has worked very well increasing the well-being and life-span of people in developed countries. It just moves slow because a whole society has a lot of inertia.

As an example, I've been reading alarming stuff about the obesity epidemics for decades. My generation was raised on TV, fast food, sweets, soda and beer. Things are starting to turn around. There's an increasing number of people making exercise and we're slowly returning to our traditional food based on olive oil, fish, tomato, red wine. It will probably take a few decades more, and a fair percentage of people will still be stupid and lazy lard asses. But the obesity epidemics will eventually stop.

Re:More useful than you think (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39301129)

So, we know EVERYthing about said preventative, holistic health care?

No.

We couldn't find further trends, lifestyles, behaviors that might bring better health?

Yes.

Your comment is fucking pointless.

Re:More useful than you think (2)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 2 years ago | (#39370831)

Does it mean something if I can't do a project like this because many of my earliest e-mails are stored in QWK packets on floppy disks for a drive type I no longer own?

Re:More useful than you think (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 2 years ago | (#39301747)

That could be a helpful step toward the kind of preventative health care we need as a people.

When you say preventative health care, you mean like telling people if they smoke, they will most likely get emphysema, cancer and a host of other issues.

Or did you mean telling people they need to eat a variety of fruits and veggies every day because doing so provides one with fiber, vitamins and minerals which help ones health?

Or maybe you meant telling people they can't be fat, that they need to do some sort of exercise every day, even just a walk around the block.

People don't listen now. What makes you think more granular analytics will have any effect?

Re:More useful than you think (1)

afabbro (33948) | more than 2 years ago | (#39304561)

At first glance, the whole idea of personal analytics seems kind of worthless. But imagine comparing analytics among populations

That is statistics, not "personal analytics".

Personal analytics appears to be what was earlier called "narcissism".

Re:More useful than you think (1)

rabbitfood (586031) | more than 2 years ago | (#39305153)

We have medical records already. Comparisons across populations already happen. The effect of habits on lifestyles can already be measured. Choices are available. Education is imposed Unfortunately, the two things we've found that make any significant difference to people's health are where they live and how much money they've got.

As for personal analytics, there's little chance of that extending beyond the small, self-selecting group that has a temporary interest. We've been able to count calories and measure our weight for the best part of a century, but only the self-obsessed bother, and not for long at that. What seems an exciting opportunity for the technocrat is a pain in the backside for the ordinary human who, on the whole, doesn't really care what you think they should die of.

If you really want to encourage healthy lifestyles, you need to convince people that dementia really is better than cancer, and that dying of cancer is more fun than a heart attack. Otherwise, the bad food wins.

Pigeons and their holes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39300559)

As personal analytics develops, it’s going to give us a whole new dimension to experiencing our lives.

I see it just another way to pigeon hole people, restricting their options and using "analytics" as a way to pre-judge people.

Like those "personality tests" that are becoming more and more common when applying for jobs. And the only feedback you get is "thank you for applying. We are going with another candidate. Please feel free to apply again for other career opportunities here at Big Corp."

Then your family wonders why you're an out of work bum. Makes a Libertarian want to be Democrat.

Re:Pigeons and their holes. (1)

Anrego (830717) | more than 2 years ago | (#39368517)

It's kind of an interesting thing to think about.

lets assume these tests were actually effective (big assumption). So they do a great job selecting candidates that are best for the position. Work places become better, but job hunting becomes worse. Do people want to take the chance of being one of the poor guys that gets bounced out by these tests some day for the reward of working with better peers.

Personally I like the balance generally where it is. I'll accept that I sometimes have to work with people who arn't really the best at their job in exchange for their being some variability in my favor when I'm looking for work (assuming these tests would have rules against me.. which is anyones guess.. ).

Fascinating (4, Interesting)

JeffSh (71237) | more than 2 years ago | (#39300581)

I find this fascinating. What I find even more fascinating is how can the man sustain such a momentus amount of activity while maintaining a family? Seriously, he works every waking hour of every day, with no interruption of email activity except dinner and sleep... Where does his family fit in? In my case, my wife won't let me, so perhaps this is just my unique situation. Anyone else have commentary on family life vs work/passion life?

Re:Fascinating (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39300643)

Maybe he just isn't maintaining his family. You don't know how happy or unhappy his wife is with him.

Re:Fascinating (1)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | more than 2 years ago | (#39301223)

Don't forget the six fucking hours he spends on the phone every weekday, on average. That's fucking crazy.

That said, the consistency of the dinner gap is just as impressive. I certainly don't manage to make time like that for my friends and family, and I'm a single guy with a 9-5.

Re:Fascinating (5, Insightful)

cachimaster (127194) | more than 2 years ago | (#39302119)

Looking at this data we can conclude that Wolfram's success has a lot to do with his wife being awesome and helping him with the family. I'm sure this is not an isolated result.

Re:Fascinating (2)

plopez (54068) | more than 2 years ago | (#39371205)

Old joke: "Behind every successful man is a woman with a credit card". But this was a play on yet another old saying, "Behind every successful man is a woman".

Anecdote:
A friend of mine's father was working his way up the corporate ladder working for a big oil company. A number of times he got the phone call at work which said, "We need you to relocate to location X for project Z". He would say "yes", go home early inform my friend's mom and start packing his suitcase. Mom would then start calling the schools for the kid's records, the doctor for the medical records, movers (the company would pay for the move), call the real estate agent to sell the house, have the real estate agent contact a real estate agent at the other location to help find a new house and/or apartment. Dad would then go to the office the next day pick up his airline ticket and be at the new job in about 48 hours. My friend's dad retired as a VP having starting out as an oil rig "worm" 40 years earlier.

I bet you are correct.

Re:Fascinating (1)

jafac (1449) | more than 2 years ago | (#39305501)

Say nothing of his family. Looking ONLY at the probability of time he spends on the phone, this guy looks like the WORST fucking manager in the world. I would NOT want to work for this man. He's a CEO? He should be a CTO sure.

Re:Fascinating (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39307123)

He has worked remotely since the early 90's. That ups phone time dramatically.

Re:Fascinating (1)

plopez (54068) | more than 2 years ago | (#39371213)

So he's still using a 56K modem?

Re:Fascinating (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39369881)

Generally speaking, the amount of phone time isn't nearly as important in one's life as is the quality of the conversation one is having using the phone relative to the advantages and disadvantages of not using it.

I feel I have to ask... (0)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 2 years ago | (#39300605)

If I count my emails, does Wolfram now expect a royalty check?

Live life (2, Insightful)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#39300621)

Don't talk about life. Don't analyze life. And most importantly, don't view your own life from a 3rd person perspective 24/7. Observation and introspection is healthy. Too much of it is a waste of time. If you're having to think about your life all the time, it means your not living it. And if you're not living it, do something about it. Don't just sit on the sidelines.

Re:Live life (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39300859)

Horse shit.

What if your happiness *is* statistics and analytics? As long as you're happy doing it and its pursuit makes you a living and gives the rest of us insight that lets us all benefit from a higher quality of life, I'd say that's a pretty damn good chunk of life. Of course it has to be balanced in a healthy way with interpersonal relationships but this same logic applies to biosciences and chemistry.

Your "insightful advice" sounds more like condescension. It's dismissive of an entire class of meaningful occupations without considering their individual habits. Simply dismissing anyone who invests any time in personal analytics as "sitting on the sidelines" and wasting their lives is intellectually dishonest, even when hedged with, "Observation and introspection is healthy. Too much of it is a waste of time."

Re:Live life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39300885)

Ohhhhhh Andy. Get busy livin' or get busy dying

Re:Live life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39303711)

You forgot: Don't follow rules given to you by posters on Slashdot.

Re:Live life (1)

Paracelcus (151056) | more than 2 years ago | (#39303729)

Wolfram is an ass, a self centered, megalomaniacal little "Timelord" wannabe, who says what he does for the love of attention not because it has any scientific relevance, the term "attention whore" comes to mind!

Re:Live life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39307393)

What he said.

Re:Live life (1)

jafac (1449) | more than 2 years ago | (#39305531)

If nothing else, that's Socratic-as-FUCK.

Re:Live life (1)

KhabaLox (1906148) | more than 2 years ago | (#39306721)

Don't talk about life. Don't analyze life. And most importantly, don't view your own life from a 3rd person perspective 24/7. Observation and introspection is healthy. Too much of it is a waste of time. If you're having to think about your life all the time, it means your not living it. And if you're not living it, do something about it. Don't just sit on the sidelines.

Choose Life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television, choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol, and dental insurance. Choose fixed interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisurewear and matching luggage. Choose a three-piece suit on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pissing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked up brats you spawned to replace yourselves. Choose your future. Choose life... But why would I want to do a thing like that? I chose not to choose life. I chose somethin' else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you've got personal analytics?

Re:Live life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39372463)

Nonsense. Everyone I know who I think is amazing thinks about life and encourages ideas about life. But the vast majority of people who I don't think are amazing -- avoid thinking about it.

Cory Doctorow introduced me to this idea (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39300679)

I hated this idea when Doctorow introduced me to it as "Reflective Analytics":

http://www.tor.com/stories/2008/08/weak-and-strange

It's meta-mental-masturbation. Exactly the kind of thing he would write about.

Privacy (1)

AdamThor (995520) | more than 2 years ago | (#39300737)

This is pretty sweet. I'll bet you could get all sorts of insight about a life in this fashion. But what are the chances that (the average) someone will be able to gather this data and run the analysis and then keep the resulting insight under their own control? What are the chances that this data could be used by a person to improve their quality of life, as opposed to used by a corporation to more effectively vacuum up the money and utility people shed?

Re:Privacy (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#39300909)

Everybody who doesn't have a personal analytics database under their control and does have a Facebook 'timeline' knows the answer to this question already. And the ones who don't know the answer are the answer...

Re:Privacy (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 2 years ago | (#39301333)

Thank you!

I for one view every emerging news story "so sweetly presented" with a gamer's strategy of "how can someone evil abuse the daylights out of this?"

Simple example, in a courtroom scenario, with the "we can raid your comp" rules emerging, they can probably find a way to subpoena your study notes.

Then of course Big Brother style is that "1. You must now keep these records. 2. Turn them over to us."

Re:Privacy (1)

Pope (17780) | more than 2 years ago | (#39369041)

You could certainly keep this off-line, like in a pen & paper journal or non-networked computer, it'd just takes more work and effort.

US? (1)

stanlyb (1839382) | more than 2 years ago | (#39300757)

Did you want to say USa? Because, this is the guy who is more interested in your insides, and who is willing to abuse you....

Frightening idea to me. (4, Insightful)

shikitohno (2559719) | more than 2 years ago | (#39300777)

Sure, my memory will fail me in the future (it's already crap now), but I'm okay with that. If I were living in a time where this sort of detailed breakdown and analysis were applied to everyone, I'd much rather forget things and not understand the reasons behind events 100% than have a database of every little detail of my life in it for anyone who'd pay to check it out. If one guy decides to do it for himself, I guess that's cool for him. But when you take this idea to its logical conclusion and start applying this to large groups of people, it sounds much too like Big Brother for me to be comfortable with at all.

It also strikes me as the most likely way people would wind up living in some sort of Orwellian, totalitarian state. At first, they'll tell us of all the benficial things this could give us, and phase it in gradually. They might tell us of how it could help medicine, and we agree to let them start monitoring our food and drink consumption, along with our exercise habits. And when something good, such as a cure for some difficult to vanquish disease, comes as a result, people will see that it provided them some tangible benefit this time. And from there it will slowly bleed out into other areas of life. This slow, creeping invasion of privacy strikes me as a much more likely route to such a future than such a government having a revolution and things changing overnight.

Personal analytics on large populations will ultimately suffer from the same problem so many schemes involving information and power do. If it happens, we'll probably have welcomed it for the perceived benefits to society we can get from it on a small scale, naively believing individuals in positions of power will be benevolent rulers. Most people will act shocked when this power is abused and steadily has its limits expanded. The rest of us will sit down and say, "When we were talking about this happening 20 years ago, we were the conspiracy nutjobs, eh? I'd say I told you so and leave you to deal with it, but instead I'll thank you for screwing me over too."

Re:Frightening idea to me. (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#39301017)

If you consider the existing body of ad-hoc, largely commercially driven, data collection mechanisms, you don't really need to use the future tense...

Re:Frightening idea to me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39301173)

That is a nature of human kind. I am afraid there is nothing that you can do so enjoy the ride as much as you can and hope for the best that is the only thing you can do. If you want you can try to change course and in some rare cases you may even have a (non minuscule) results. Good luck with that frustrating job (I know it is frustrating because I tried too and got frustrated).

Ummmm .... (2)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#39300953)

He presents visualizations of the times and frequency of a third of a million emails since 1989, 100 million keystrokes since 2002, phone calls, meetings, modification times on his personal files, and even the number of footsteps he takes in a day.

OCD much? Seriously, who keeps track of this kind of stuff?

Re:Ummmm .... (2)

cruff (171569) | more than 2 years ago | (#39301051)

Seriously, who keeps track of this kind of stuff?

I thought his comment about believing that other persons were also tracking this type of information about their activities and then finding out that they weren't was very interesting. Did he just project this onto the others based on his own behaviors, or did they throw out a quick comment about how that might be interesting but then promptly forgot about it?

Re:Ummmm .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39301165)

He doesn't. His computer does. Is it OCD if your email client checks your POP server every 10 minutes?

Re:Ummmm .... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#39301427)

Is it OCD if your email client checks your POP server every 10 minutes?

No, but recording it for statistical purposes, knowing the number of steps you took in a day, and having a count of your keystrokes? Well, then you might be getting into the OCD realm of things.

Of course, he's a mathematician, so it's not like OCD is a liability ... you're supposed to have a little I gather. ;-)

Re:Ummmm .... (2)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | more than 2 years ago | (#39301769)

OCD is always a liability, by definition. If it's not a liability, it doesn't qualify as a disorder, and you don't have OCD, you're just particular. Or pedantic. Or whatever you want to call it, but you're not suffering from a clinical mental disease.

Re:Ummmm .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39302143)

The whole concept of "disorder" and "clinical disease" is ridiculous in the mental health profession. There is no objective standard for many of these disorders if you remove "societal norms" from the list of objective criteria. People have been prescribed therapy and/or serious brain-affecting drugs just for being a little strange or different. The mental health field really needs a reboot to get itself away from the model of today where it seems to define healthy as "A person who integrates well with current societal norms in such a way that they're a productive tool for others to take advantage of".

Re:Ummmm .... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#39303321)

OCD is always a liability, by definition. If it's not a liability, it doesn't qualify as a disorder, and you don't have OCD

I have known several people with varying degrees of OCD. Some with minor quirks that weren't debilitating ... some much more severe and in need of being under care.

I guess clinically you could describe it more like Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder [wikipedia.org] -- to Freud it included "anal retentive character", though, I mostly think of Freud as a coke-head with dodgy ideas.

As with all aspects of human behavior, there's a continuum of it from mild to severe.

I'd say counting and recording your steps every day is edging at least into the mild end of that. Except he's also a functioning, brilliant mathematician -- which makes him quirky and eccentric, but not necessarily someone with a clinical disorder. But that doesn't mean he doesn't have some of the same traits.

Re:Ummmm .... (2)

cachimaster (127194) | more than 2 years ago | (#39303667)

He presents visualizations of the times and frequency of a third of a million emails since 1989, 100 million keystrokes since 2002, phone calls, meetings, modification times on his personal files, and even the number of footsteps he takes in a day.

OCD much? Seriously, who keeps track of this kind of stuff?

Google, Facebook and Twitter.

Mod parent up (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#39304755)

Google, Facebook and Twitter.

That's exactly what I was going to say.

Imagine Facebook Timeline for your entire life. Including everything your phone ever did. Being monitored by Homeland Security.

At least you should be able to look at it yourself.

100 million key strokes (3, Interesting)

Stargoat (658863) | more than 2 years ago | (#39300993)

100 million key strokes? I hope for his carpel tunnel's sake that he has an IBM Model M.

Re:100 million key strokes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39301081)

assuming 12 hours working a day over 20 years - one keystroke every 3 seconds... doesn't seem far fetched...

Re:100 million key strokes (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 2 years ago | (#39301755)

He'd have gone through at least two or three of them by now. IIRC those buckling-spring switches are only rated for ~25 million strokes.

Re:100 million key strokes (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39302485)

lol. Think about what you said, and then how many keys are on a keyboard.

Re:100 million key strokes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39370371)

Someone needs to mod this dude up yo!

Re:100 million key strokes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39370475)

Replying to myself; his "etaoin shrdlu" keys should still have plenty of life left- and his "cmfwyp vbgkqj xz" keys should still have a terrible amount of life left, unless he played a lot of videogames that used "asdzxc" or "qweasd" as control keys.

I bet the average Stepmania user gets at least 25million strokes out of their arrow keys.

Facebook porn (1)

Temujin_12 (832986) | more than 2 years ago | (#39301039)

I think it is safe to say that this data could be considered Facebook porn.

Black Mirror (1)

six025 (714064) | more than 2 years ago | (#39301151)

The plot of episode 3 details how a mans life is effectively ruined by perfect recall [denofgeek.com] *.

Forgetting all the fun of interesting stats generated by this Wolfram project, is that what you want?

Peace,
Andy.

* spoiler alert for those of you who have not watched this brilliant series

no conclusions (1)

sugarmotor (621907) | more than 2 years ago | (#39301251)

The blog post is much longer, and there is much more analysis than real, meaningful, useful results. So many numbers and pretty graphs, but no conclusions: what is good, what should change, what is bad, what should not change.

S

Re:no conclusions (2)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#39301321)

there is much more analysis than real, meaningful, useful results. So many numbers and pretty graphs, but no conclusions

Funny, that sounds exactly like Wolfram's book.

Re:no conclusions (1)

shikitohno (2559719) | more than 2 years ago | (#39301393)

Yeah, it really seems like a terribly longwinded way of saying, "I went OCD and started tracking all this stuff, and I graphed it. Pretty cool, huh?" He doesn't draw any conclusions about it, or even provide some sort of practical uses for it. If my memory is fuzzy about something, I've got a way less time consuming method of getting the info about it. I call up the friends I was with at the time and ask them if they remember whatever it is I forgot. Of course, this method assumes you have friends, and you're not some strange guy who obsessively notes every tiny event in his life in detail, so it won't work for everyone.

How do you measure a year in the life? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39301367)

Measure in ... looooooooooooooooooohohohoooooooooooooooohhhhhoooooooooove

Recursion alert (2)

srussia (884021) | more than 2 years ago | (#39301677)

What if your life is all about keeping track of your life?

I like this (1)

khipu (2511498) | more than 2 years ago | (#39301937)

It mostly tells me that collecting all this data is pretty useless. I've accumulated a lot of data myself, but never got around to analyzing it. Now I won't bother.

Short work day. (2)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 2 years ago | (#39302747)

This is fascinating if for no other reason than to compare against my own workday. It's quite evident that this guy's day starts at roughly 10am and ends by about 3pm. So on average 5 hours of work per day. I wish my work day looked like that, even if it meant meant some work on the weekends.

Re:Short work day. (1)

nickersonm (1646933) | more than 2 years ago | (#39309227)

No, it's more of 10-11AM to 3AM, as he mentions just below the first plot. The last plots [edgecastcdn.net] are more useful for drawing that sort of conclusion, though.

Amazing response slashdot (0)

pasv (755179) | more than 2 years ago | (#39303237)

This guy is pioneering digitizing life (something that on this scale, is for the most part unexplored territory). He just might be ahead of his time, this might become the norm in 10-20 years. You assholes are doing nothing but putting him down. Do you think he's an idiot? Do you know how hard it is to develop something as intricate as the site he made? Could you have done any better? Shut the hell up. _You're making fun of nerd on a nerd news site_. Furthermore this nerd will probably be more successful and make more of an impact than any of the negative commentators' lives combined (plot that on your own life graph you fuckwits). Don't be so short sighted, just because you can't see the implications yet because you made fast judgement. Your time might be better spent thinking about how you can do even half as much as what this guy has done. I really hope he never reads this news site or at least has the sense to gloss over the meaningless commentators.

Re:Amazing response slashdot (1)

shikitohno (2559719) | more than 2 years ago | (#39303871)

And what is it exactly that he has accomplished with this? He's certainly a succesful businessman, but what in this article is actually supposed to impress me with its pioneering vision? This man has meticulously documented the minutiae of his day to day life for years and years, then taken this data and produced graphs which tell us...not much of anything, actually. We can tell he wakes up and goes to sleep at largely the same times most days, and also eats dinner at the same time. But please, I'm just an ignorant plebian, share some of your knowledge with me and reveal how he has documented something profound.

As I said in another post, cool for him if he wants to do this with his life. Hope he has fun with it, and I wouldn't do it myself. But he's simply built a great amount of data about absolutely mundane tasks. Possibly the single interesting thing you could glean from what he published was being able to see how his book came together. That aside, he just obsessively compiled data on how he performed tasks that millions of people do everyday. I can't help but feel like the only reason why this seems like such an awesome, world-changing idea to him is because it's his data. You probably don't care how many sheets of toilet paper I use in a typical year, and I don't care how many emails you sent between 6AM-8AM on average for the month of May in 1993. This guy has done some impressive stuff with his life, but I don't think this is one of them.

Re:Amazing response slashdot (1)

Mia'cova (691309) | more than 2 years ago | (#39370859)

Having access to your own data produces a very positive feedback loop. If you can see your schedule drifting, you can reorient yourself to correct it quickly. I keep track of a few things such as when I wake up, go to sleep, get to work, leave work, and a small handful of personal metrics such as a numeric value for how effective I was at work on a given day.. I've learned a lot from it. For example, I have a better idea now of how my level of engagement (# of hours worked) relates to how effective I am. If I spend a few more hours, I tend to be significantly more engaged. It helps me figure out the difference between burnt out and disinterest. After a crappy week, I might choose to work all weekend or turn off my work email and relax. Depending on what kind of funk I'm in, it can help me decide how to right the ship.

So when I see a boring graph, I see someone who has figured themselves out. It's figuring yourself out so you know what you need to track in order to effectively manage yourself.

Re:Amazing response slashdot (1)

turkeyfish (950384) | more than 2 years ago | (#39369979)

This is the typical average response from slashdot readers since most of us can only claim to be better than others rather than actually proving it. Hence, the need to make others smaller. Sadly, much of human interaction falls into this category and its likely that comparisons like that Wolfram's life log provides will only prove that to be true. I wish it weren't so as it would then be easier to find interesting things in slashdot without having to wade to inordinate amounts of self-preening to find interesting tidbits that one can use in one's own life. Then again, we're all human so we have to live with the consequences.

Intuition? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39303541)

Why do I need a large data set and analytics to inform my decisions? Will this be a significant improvement over intuition and introspection to justify this guy's time spent on the endeavor? Probably not.

No One Mentioned Feltron.com? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39303683)

This guy has been producing 'annual reports' on the numbers in his life since 2005. These are beautiful. Check out http://feltron.com

Priceless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39306095)

100,000,000 keystrokes.
1 IBM Model M

What I learned (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | more than 2 years ago | (#39369787)

That the best times to call him are between the hours of 2 am and 8 am as he is most likely to not be engaged in a phone call. Guess whose getting calls between those hours.

What a waste of effort. (1)

plopez (54068) | more than 2 years ago | (#39371233)

The time spent analyzing emails and phone calls could have been spent learning how to write more effective emails, make more effective phone calls etc. Don't analyze your life to death and then brag about it. Organize it so that you maximize your gain for minimum effort.

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