This interview was recorded at the Wearable Technology Expo on March 19th, 2014.
Chris Dancy: The Quantified Self’s Nexus Point
When I meet Chris Dancy, I ask him how he’s feeling. He grins mischievously and says, “I feel great, and I have the data to prove it!” Over the next 30 minutes, he gives me no reason to doubt the truth of his assessment.
Dancy, is at the sharp end of the Quantified-Self movement, which has now blossomed, into a global force. Combining wearable sensors and wearable computers, with self-tracking and data visualisation software, quantified-self(er’s) seek actionable insights into both lifestyle and behaviour. There are now hundreds of meet-ups, happening every week on all six continents.
Dancy is not associated with any specific part of the movement, but in spite of himself, has become perhaps its most famous example. In the process, he has earned the title ‘the word’s most connected human.’
“I do feel overwhelmed, by how prescient I feel,” he says. “Somedays, it’s daunting, because I feel as if I’m sitting at the corner of this major shift in humanity and…. I want to be clear, I’m just a person; I’m not a scientist, I’m not a P.H.D.”
Without any corporate assistance, Chris Dancy is blazing a trail, hacking his mind and body to produce a better life. In a few short years, he has lost over 100 lb’s and reinvented both his work and home life. He now tracks personal metrics at a level few have imagined and has over 700 active monitoring systems. On the day of our conversation, he is travelling light – with only the following devices active:
- An iPhone and Android smartphone, tracking the room’s ambient noise, temperature, humidity and his location.
- A BodyMedia device was measuring his galvanic skin response and movement.
- A Fitbit tracking sleep, calories and activity.
- A Wahoo Blue HR was measuring heart-rate.
- A Lumoback providing notifications via vibration to correct his posture; reminding him to sit-up properly.
- Google location and notification information via Google Now and Zapier.
- A Pebble Smartwatch for phone notifications.
- A Narrative camera taking pictures every 30 seconds.
All of these systems have made him keenly aware of the repeating patterns in his life. Dancy refers to this information trail as “data exhaust.”
He is a practising Buddhist and says that he has found ways to integrate the insights produced by technology, with the Buddhist concept of mindfulness.
Listening to him speak, is a like hearing an echo from the future. But (for a cyborg), he is remarkably affable, charming and courteous.
He is not at all what those who fear a data-driven future imagine. His insights about where we are heading are fascinating and his dispatches, presentations and podcasts, may very well be a precursor to a world we will all be living in very soon.
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