When I was a kid I joked with my friends about “God Stats”…statistics that only God could know like how many total liters I had peed in my life (I was 12, okay?) or the longest I had ever been able to hold my breathe.
We joked about this idea a lot because it is an interesting way to know more about yourself and also because it made for some interesting debates and fun theoretical trivia.
Yesterday I almost bought a Fitbit. The FitBit, like the Nike Fuelband and Jawbone Up, will track your daily activity and give you statistics, graphs, badges, and also let you compete with friends based on fitness goals. It will also track your sleeping habits, although reviews on how effective this feature is are mixed.
I was about 70% sure I wanted it when I went in the store, but somehow I turned away and chose not to buy it. I’m not sure that quantifying myself will make for a great experience. It was a great idea when I was 12 years old, and I’ve used various quantification applications in the past, but I’m not sure that knowing more changes our behavior. After all, I know that ice cream and pizza are bad for me but I will still eat them, right?
I came across some research that suggests that photographing everything you eat on your smartphone before you eat it will help to create better nutrition habits. I’m quite sure that this is true, but here the idea isn’t quantification but documentation.
The FitBit can quantify the number of steps I take in a day, but its primary purpose isn’t to document or give me a history of my fit (or in my case waaaaay out of shape) lifestyle. The reigning idea is that knowledge is power, but I am not sure that this is entirely true. Perhaps the data visualization is more important than the data itself?
What do you think?