The quantified self a hot topic these days.
I buy into it, mostly. I use the RunKeeper app on my iPhone to tell me how far I hike, through what amount of elevation gain, how many calories I’ve burned. It is one of my most used apps. It tracks my times at various distances and lets me know, in an instant, information that allows me to assess my progress. I know, for example, that on October 26, 2013 I hiked farther, climbed higher and burned more calories than on any other single hike. If I’m looking to beat that mark, I don’t have go looking very far. In fact, it stares me in the face on my records screen, and that influences my future behavior. It makes me want to hike longer and climb higher.
Most of this quantified self conversation centers around health, and rightfully so. It’s a massive potential market. But I’m interested in understanding other aspects of my behavior as well. For example, I’d love to know who I interact with the most on social media, who interacts the most with me. What kind of content I interact with the most and how. I think it would also influence my future behavior.
One of my favorite parts of LinkedIn is the “Jeff, people are looking at your LinkedIn profile” email I get on a weekly basis. It gives me insight that I find valuable, particularly when someone I’m in negotiations with is stopping by to learn about me. In unrelated news, apparently my name came up at VisualTour recently. Interesting.
Likewise, Facebook has data about me and my interactions with the people I’ve chosen to connect with on their platform. I’d like Facebok to share some of that data. I’d like to use it to determine if I might have a desire to change my behavior. I already know that I’m unduly influenced by Facebook’s filtering systems, I just don’t know how much. How many people am I really interacting with? Facebook knows. Who are these people? Who have I never interacted with? Facebook knows. I want them to tell me.
Apps like Rel8 have attempted to fill this gap. Rel8 says it uses “advanced, automated machine learning to analyze the personalities and preferences of you and your friends, showing you similarities and shared interests.” It didn’t resonated with me when I gave it a try. It felt more like entertainment. Of course, I was an early adopter when it was launched. I deleted it from my phone a long time ago and hadn’t used it again until this morning as I thought about this. I downloaded Rel8 again this morning and gave it a play. My main sticking point with it is that I am forced to operate outside of the Facebook environment and their “personalities” play feels like a parlor game. I don’t want to have to leave Facebook to better understand their influence on my interactions there. I shouldn’t have to.
That’s it. That’s all I’m asking for today. What do you say, Facebook? 🙂