What if you had a personal data dashboard? What would you want on it? Think of it this way: what if a statistician followed you around all day? What would you want that statistician to be keeping track of? The number of footsteps you take? How many times you say “um”? The amount of calories you consume? How often you check the clock? What data about your life would you like to have? What would go on your data dashboard? What things in your life are worth quantifying or keeping track of with numbers? What do you think your data dashboard might reveal about you?
Several jobs I've held over the past few years have included research tasks: data collection, entry, and occasionally analysis. Some data collection methods (interviews and child assessments) are more fun than others, but data entry is almost never fun. You can trust me on that.
Even though it's not at all glamorous, this process is vitally important. Expanding the evidence base (compiling data, grouping it, and reflecting on the results) is an important way to grow and make sure we're the best we can be going forward (at both the individual and societal levels).
So, needless to say, I geeked out a bit thinking about this prompt. And, please note: I am fully aware that most of the data included in the below list would be impossible to collect. It's a hypothetical wish list, and I'm not at all concerned with what's feasible.
Things I'd want to keep track of on my personal data dashboard:
- How many words I read online vs in print (to get a sense of how reliant I am on technology for news and communication)
- How many times I look at my phone throughout each day (Also, when do I look at it most? At work? School? Home?....When am I most bored and antsy?)
- How many words I speak
- How many words I hear from how many different sources
- What words I hear most often
- What words I say most often
- How many minutes are spent thinking bad thoughts
- How many minutes are spent thinking good thoughts
- And yeah, okay- number of steps (Although my FitBit does a decent job at this, it's kind of ugly and I don't always wear it. Plus, with the right arm movement, you can totally cheat the FitBit. This, of course, was discovered on accident; I've never cheated on purpose.)
I hope that my data dashboard would reveal that I listen more than I speak, although admittedly, it might not. I hope it would show that I get news from (what I deem) legitimate sources, and that I spend a good percentage of my reading time with actual books not computer screens. I hope it shows that I'm thinking positive things about others more often than negative things. I hope the (let's be honest) outrageous number of cell phone checks/minutes of cell phone use would encourage me to be more present in my life (and shame me into using my time more productively). Maybe most of all, I hope my hypothetical data dashboard shows that I tell my friends and family regularly how much I love them.
Now, your turn.
What if you had a personal data dashboard? What would you want on it? What did I forget?