My Courses for Winter Quarter 2008

I’m taking 3 awesome classes. Music and the WWW, Marketing, and Accessibility.

For Music and the WWW, I’ll be researching Music Discovery on the Internet. Things like Last.fm and Pandora. For the final project, I’ll develop an interactive website, but I have to use original content so I’ll be making some music myself.

My Marketing professor is the craziest and most intense I’ve ever had. He’ll start each lecture with “storytime,” where he tells us about doing business in one of the supposed 178 countries he’s been. Yesterday he talked about dancing with a Chinese drug lord on the top of Victoria Peak in Hong Kong, in the Police Chief’s Mansion with 7 Rolls Royces in the driveway. And he’s promised to take us to the “Promised Land.”

I just had my first Accessibility lecture, where we’ll be learning about disabilities and technologies to overcome them. My professor does research in guidance systems for the visually impaired among other things, but this General Education class is more focused on the social impact of disabilities than the technological. My interest here is Web Accessibility, and how I can take that into consideration when I’m developing websites.

Feel free to contact me if you’d like to know more about the course content.

New Obsession: Tracking Personal Metrics

Listen to me read this: [display_podcast]

I have recently become obsessed with keeping track of things… like, what music I listen to, where I go, and what I do. The main reason is to create an archive, because as much as I would love to have a journal (diary) to look back on, there’s no way I’m going to do it. And so I can piece together an implicit journal by tracking my various activities. One looming project is to come up with a way to collect and browse this data.

For music, I’ve recently started using Last.fm again. Here’s my profile. Last.fm is a social network built around discovering music. It integrates with iTunes to track what songs you listen to, and posts that online for your friends to see. There’s even an application for hacked iPhones that tracks what you listen to on the go. There’s a direct benefit from using this service, and that is music recommendations, which you can play like a radio stream… and rate to improve the suggestions.

To keep track of where I go, I carry a very small GPS datalogger. This device just tracks its location coordinates every few seconds, and I download these files to my Mac frequently. You can view the tracks in Google Earth, which I’m using at the moment as a library for this data. This is cool not only for traveling, but also excercise (biking, running, even skiing).

You can also geotag photos with this GPS device… which will a fun part of browsing this ‘digital diary’. Imagine a globe, maybe in Google Earth, that you could spin around, and zoom in on, that showed every photo you’ve ever taken, right where you took it.

As far as keeping track of what I do, I’m relying on Twitter at the moment. (My page there). The website’s built around answering the question “What are you doing right now?,” as frequently as you wish. It has evolved into more than that, a new global communication platform… but most users still post the interesting things they do each day.

So, imagine all of these things, (location, music, photos, activities), recorded automatically for you, and put into a calendar. Something you can review and browse. Or have it email you a personal, ‘what you did in previous years on this day’ type email. And everything’s on a map. Because you carried your GPS around with you.

Another thing about this ‘digital diary’ is that all the automatic data might be enough to encourage you to add your own additional data… like your weight. Or more exercise details. Or private diary entries.

Would you use something like this?