Where too much data is barely enough…

There’s been a lot of talk recently about how Facebook is changing the way we interact. Self-indulgent twaddle. Honestly, who would be interested in reading what other people write on a computer?? However there is a game-changer on the social media horizon: Strava


Strava – It’s Swedish for data. While Facebook caters for catching up on primary school bullies, rekindling old flames in middle age, keeping track of the kids misdemeanours and general cyber-stalking – Stava allows the actual sharing of bodily data.

Upload the ride data from your GPS device of choice (phone, bike computer, etc) and the site analyses it for “segments” that have been ridden by other people.
For example, in the interest of research, I uploaded our usual “river ride”. A popular “segment” is Highgate Hill. Apparently this has been ridden by others some 20,093 times. Meaning this segment has been uploaded 20,093 times (ridden many more). And Strava has only just started!

You can look at the leader board and compare times, heart rates, cadences, within genders and age groups, etc. If you are prepared to pay to be a premium member, you can get access to “special” data that ordinary mortals can only dream of.

Strava encourages you to “follow” others in your local area, with a sophisticated match-making algorithm. Leave kudos, leave comments, form teams, but most of all … exchange bodily data. Upload, graph, chart. If you do it for long enough you will produce a beautiful curve of your increased performance, apogee, subsequent decline and eventual death.

Here’s Chloe Hosking out motor pacing in Girona: 78 k/hr top speed! Not bad.

Garmin has a similar site. Tyler Farrar stage 2 of the Giro:

Fast finish!

To be a premium member of Strava you have to be special:

George W is a keen rider..

Should I friend him? Should I? Alas, I have no social media confidence and fear rejection. But lets take him on “mano a mano”:

Damn, he’s good. Of course it is inconceivable that someone would try to impersonate somebody else. (And btw, I really did look a lot like Yuri Gagarin back in the day.)

He even impresses the peloton:

But I’m beginning to suspect George W’s credentials when he says he’s riding a Baum Extensa

He would never have a bike this awesome

New bike computers & phones are good as low power data loggers of multiple sensors. Why would you want your bike computer to tell you how fast you’re going? When it could tell you your speed, position, elevation, heart rate, cadence, power, ambient temperature, humidity, traffic density, chamois comfort factor, blood caffeine level, etc. Instant knowledge of such important parameters is one thing. But in this brave new world the true beauty is revealed when you start to store, accumulate, analyse and share the data.

The Garmin site will talk to your “Body Composition Monitor” to record 9 important parameters such as visceral fat, metabolic age and bone mass.

Why would you want bathroom scales that just told you your weight? The Tanita scales has a wireless interface to connect directly with your computer. It doesn’t have a display. For “personal privacy”. Instead it uploads the data so an audience of billions can have access to your weight.

The Tanita web site is a real eye-opener, because it doesn’t stop there. Oh no….

Problem: I am too lazy to smell my own breath. Can you help me?
Solution: The HC-212SF FitScan Breath Checker

Of course, this type of thing interests me greatly, so I immediately download the manual. I am disappointed in the 6 scale display.

These graphics are not giving me the instant information on the odour index. Clearly this is not the work of Steve Jobs. So many things left undone….

Luckily, it tells you what to do if breath odour is detected.

However, it pays to check out the “trouble shooting” fine print:

It only lasts 500 times! This is just not going to work. If your anything like me, you would be uploading breath data every chance you get so you can plot it as a function of as many variables as you can think of. To share with others.

A future convergence with sites such as RSVP will allow one to access breath and other body data on prospective partners. This in turn will lead to an industry of false data generation (remember GATTACA?). I’m thinking of Indian call centres with youths wired up on exercise bikes, breathing into devices. Of course this is not too different to the carefully constructed lives that people spend so much time developing on Facebook.

Perusing the sensors and devices at Tanita I somehow naturally knew there would be one that was sex related. They did not disappoint. Here we have the PD-733F FitScan ThrustMeter.

The FD-733F uses a tri-axial acceleration sensor. The manual is complicated, the calibration finicky, I will spare you the details. And again we are missing Steve Jobs here.

But by all means upload the data… Too much information? Not at all, these days it’s all about quantifying things. Increasing productivity and performance. Again in the future, data will be transferred seamlessly into dating sites for optimum matching.

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One Response to Where too much data is barely enough…

  1. 888riley says:

    Mark Carvendish left a fair bit of bodily data on the road 150m from the Giro stage 3 finish

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