The Call For Personal Open Data

The Call For Personal Open Data

The Call For Personal Open Data
Most of us have all heard about open data. Usually it’s used in conjunction with government and refers to the transparency and accountability of the government to it’s citizens. However, Government is really making it a priority. In fact, on Data.gov, it states:

While this is a great initiative that the government has taken, I think we tend to ignore the more personal aspects of data. We feel that government should open up it’s own data and that we have every right to view it and analyze it.

However, what we don’t sometimes consider is our own data and who has control over that data. I recently have experienced this in a big way because of my weight loss.

You see, I’m a numbers guy. Everything I do has a quantifiable result and if there isn’t one, it bothers me. It bothers me because I can’t measure my success or failure based on subjective outcomes. Of course, this isn’t in all areas of my life, but in areas where I can and need to, I want to be able to analyze my data.

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Let’s take for instance, tracking what foods I eat. I love participating in the Weight Watchers program. While it’s not for everyone, it allows me to stay within the range of what I should eat without having to worry about minuscule details such as the balance of carbs and protein (Weight Watchers has the balance of these built into their program).

On the back end of this, Weight Watchers keeps track of my macro-nutrients for me. If I want to see them, I can go in at any time and take a look to see the hard data behind their science, which is very reassuring. But that’s where the open data ends.

If I want to keep track of this data anywhere else, such as in a data aggregation tool or the like, I have to now manually re-input the data. This may not be a large task for food tracking, but as you will see, the amount of data I track would be unwieldy to have to enter twice. The data that Weight Watchers has about me is locked into their system. I cannot export it to any other system to allow me to analyze trends or link it with other data.

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Another great example of this is Apple Health. Apple Health itself is a data aggregation tool in and of itself, but it also tracks data from my Apple Watch.

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