The average person consumes 34 gigabytes worth of data each day. Some of that data comes from the apps and devices that you use, which are constantly collecting data about your everyday activities.
Recently, we discovered Sherbit - a quantified self app for managing and understanding your personal data. Sherbit claims to let you easily understand and analyze your information, as you can see in the sample chart above. It's an interesting and fun way to look at some of the data in your life, and use it to learn more about yourself.
As a smart consumer of data, here are a few things to consider as you look at data from apps like Sherbit:
1. Where is your data coming from? If you're analyzing how many steps you take in a day (which is what the chart below shows), ask yourself - are the devices that track your steps accurate? Are they really tracking steps, or are they using a motion tracker or other technology to approximate the number of steps you take each day?
2. Are you looking at correlation or causation? This chart shows something interesting—the amount of driving time decreased as the number of steps increased. But does that mean that stopping the car caused you to take more steps? Does it mean taking more steps caused you to stop driving? Or is it just a correlation, rather than a causal relationship?
3. Understand that predictions may only be as good as your prediction model. Let's say as your weight goes down, so does your heart rate. You might assume that your heart rate will keep going down as you lose weight. But will that relationship hold true forever, or will your heart rate stop going down at some point?
4. Make sure you're asking the right question to solve the problem. Imagine you want to lose weight. You might ask: "How many steps do I have to take to lose 1 pound each week?" Or perhaps, "What exercise is the most effective in losing weight?" Maybe even, "What food should I cut out of my diet in order to lose weight?" All of these are valid questions - but each one may lead to a different answer.
To learn more about Sherbit, visit their website.