michael nagle about large projects personal projects

the quantified self meetup, boston

winter 2010 - summer 2012

meetup site. You can tell when I stopped running it by when the weird puns and references in the meetup names stop in 2012.

boston globe article

technology review article


In the end of 2008, I took a break from running Camp Kaleidoscope. At this time, I was barely able to use a computer. I would get overwhelming body pain and headaches. It was to the point where I was barely using a computer.

This experience got me very interested in what it would mean for medicine to have a truly individualized nature. Around this time the first quantified self meetup started in the Bay Area, and I decided that it might be interested to see to what extent technology could help in this process of personalizing medicine and the process of engaging with our bodies.

I ran the Boston meetup for its first two years in Boston, and appreciated the mixture of people who came beyond any one role: academics and researchers, entrepeneurs, technologists. This led me to work with ginger.io and later lark technologies.

One of the ideas that excited me the most in the quantified self world was the idea that meetup could become a kind of democratic filter for hypotheses about the body. The meetup was a filter for anecdotes -- the anecdote had to be (hopefully) something interesting and novel about the body, and likely had to use some sensor or journalling process to substantiate the claim. My hope was that group experiments would arise out of these hypotheses -- to see if and how any of these results generalized to an n = 10 size from an n = 1 report. I collaborated with Eri Gentry when she was at Genomera on running a fifty person group experiment -- based on a qs boston member's claim that blue light-blocking glasses gave him signficantly better sleep, as measured by a sleep company's EEG headband.

It's been interesting to see the quantified self become a kind of buzzword in silicon valley land. To me the promise of meaning filtering and aggregation of individual exploration feels still to be at the fringes of the quantified self community. Hopefully I will feel the need to come edit this sometime in the future.