Saturday, May 15, 2010

"The Data-Driven Life"

I enjoyed reading this article[1] about increasing instances of using computers to help analyze ones own personal life. This is the kind of world I envision eventually, and that I'd hope to help create. Sometimes I wonder what I'm getting myself into.

While I count myself among those the author describes as data-driven, I don't agree with his portrayl. It seems like he's saying, in the data-driven life people let their data explain them -- praise or condem them. If you gain a pound, if you jump around through tasks, if you have too many drinks, the data is all there to prove it. But really, the data does nothing on its own. I would venture to think that few "data-driven" people think of their data (let alone the machines/tools that they use to record it) as separate from themselves. The details are just more of you exposed, and machines put it within easier reach. The tools and the data simply are you formulating ideas about yourself in different ways. They are an extension of you.

At the end of the article the author notes that his own personal tracking experience was only useful to him as a "source of critical perspective." My point exactly.

[1] The Data-Driven Life

Monday, May 10, 2010

Cities Selected for "Code For America"

So, it turns out[1] that five cities have finally been selected to participate in the Code For America[2] program for 2011: Boston, Boulder, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Seattle. Each of these cities will identify the need for some city government project that can leverage modern web technologies, be assigned a group of five developers[3], and will work with them to develop that project over 11 months, starting in January.

I am on pins and needles to see what comes out of this. I'm also curious how the city governments plan to pick the projects.

[1] "Five Cities Get Free Civic Apps Through Code for America". Digital Philadelphia.

[2] "About". Code For America.

[3] Developers apply for the opportunity. The application will be available June 1, and the deadline is August 1. "For Developers". Code For America.