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“I keep an annual report on my life.”

A lot of the information about our lives is simple to collect. Your mobile phone and computer stores so much data that it’s fascinating to unravel how we spend our time. At the start, I was just curious to find out what I had been doing for the past 12 months. Then people started asking how they could collect their own life data too. It led me to set up a website called Daytum which helps them discover how.

I don’t like examining my life’s data on a daily basis but I do like looking at monthly summaries of stuff like my Fitbit activity or my social media behavior. Aggregated data can tell you how boring, exciting, or healthy your life really is and what things need to change or remain the same. And sometimes the data reveals so much that all we care about is getting on with the business of living.

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What Was, Is and Will Be Popular

New York Times culture editor Adam Sternbergh explains the conundrum of popularity in today’s high speed, viral world.  

If something is popular, it can’t also be good.

What’s to say something is actually popular, something that sells or streams, or both?  Just because something is popular today, doesn’t mean it’ll still be popular tomorrow.  Our digital appetites are transitory and therefore misleading.  

Paradoxically, popularity is now both infinitely quantifiable and infinitely elusive.  

Just make it stick.  

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Most popular web browsers on desktop.  

All Chromed.  Not sight of Safari.  

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Creativity does not always need to hang on a museum wall; smartphones can display art too.

— Gillian Tett, “The Art of Big Data
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Work over theories

Theories prove nothing. Until theories get tested, they’re just talk.

People want concrete examples. Examples provide firepower to an argument, proving that you’ve at least experimented.

Having some data is better than having none at all. Data gathering is the means to embrace failure. Enough wrong answers eventually lead to right ones.

What are some things you think are true or false but haven’t been tested? Life is a giant test lab. You’ll never know unless you try.

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Plugging Out

90 percent of the data that now exists in the world has been created in just the last two years. From now until 2020, the digital universe is expected to double every two years. (link)

We’re getting close to knowing everything, being one touch away from Google and Wolfram Alpha.  The future portends mass knowledge but learning ignorance.

Computers are also data mining everything about us based on our online behavior, creating a tool that accurately predicts what things we should do and eat next.  

Serendipity, wonder, uncertainty:  these are the things that make life exciting.  I don’t want to know 100% what I’m doing next.  Automation is anti-human.  

The next significant human movement should fight predictive technology, especially as the government follows our every move

Man, always an animal with brains, never a machine.