Browsing articles from "September, 2013"

The Quantified Self: Big Data Isn’t A Substitute for Self-Motivation

I read Danny Sullivan’s post on the Quantified Self and Big Data with great interest. His terrific article is entitled How my body rejected activity trackers and the ‘quantified self’.

As someone fascinated by the intersection of Big Data in our business and personal lives, I am fascinated by others’ experiences with the application of Big Data in their own lives. I especially liked Danny’s comment about the importance of “little data,” data that can come from wrist-based tools for tracking daily activities.

For me, motivation does not come from data. Motivation comes from personal desire. Back in my grade school days I was that kid whose mom always asked the school to put at the front of the water-fountain line so I wouldn’t be dehydrated. I lagged at the back of the pack during cross-country runs. Never did I imagine I would be able to run marathons or complete an Ironman, both of which I have been fortunate to do.

Motivation comes from the support of friends, from competition, from interest, from need, or from the desire to please or help others.

Motivation comes from many areas but most importantly it comes from you.

When it comes to finishing an Ironman or for finishing anything for that matter–a college degree, a blog post, or the incorporation documents to start your own company–the most important factor in motivating is you.

No device, however savvy, whether it be a stand-alone mobile device or the latest app for your iPhone, can motivate you. These devices and applications can supply you with the data you need to gauge your progress, to measure yourself, or to see how you compare with others, as in the case of services like Strava.

All that data can be input into your personal motivation toolkit. Amidst all the numbers, the calorie counts, the heart rate measurements and the other numeric fanciness, it is easy to lose track of what really drives motivation.

When it comes to motivating, the only mobile device we really need to worry about is that ancient, often fickle, and frequently self-doubt inducing yet remarkably effective one we already have–our own brain.

David Feinleib is the author of Big Data Demystified and producer of The Big Data Landscape.

Sep 15, 2013