The blog of DAVID KOUŘIL

#WORK update nr. 1

I’m starting to think about what kind of projects I would like to commit to. I keep a list of all ideas I ever have in a notes app on my phone but besides that here are some things from the top of my head I would now want to explore:

  • how to collect personal everyday data and visualize/analyze them in order to improve my health
  • classical mathematics and computer science concepts and methods, things that I’ve encountered while studying at the university but never fully understand (because I only learned them for an exam)
  • learning to use touchdesigner for really visual things, taking advantage of the node-based system to think about it differently than when working with code
  • hardware: arduino, sensors, visualization for that
  • interactive graphics for web (Javascript, threejs and similar): at least basics, to be able to use it for projects when it’s really appropriate

The goals are:

  • improve programming skills, learn to take a project from the initial idea to the technical prototype (which does what it should)
  • get used to seeing coding as an activity that enables creativity, rather than just as something that I do for work
  • learn to finish projects
  • create tools to improve my own (or other people’s) life, augment the world around me using the technical skills that I have
  • explore what kind of software I want to be doing, something that comes out of my own believes and motivations
  • learn to think and write about ideas, present the motivations behind them, document progress

From all the ideas I think the one that deals with my personal health data visualization is the one closest to my heart. I’ve been working in visualization research for a few years now, and it only makes sense that I start using this knowledge, and probably learning way more, by making tools that help me.

The thing is that with any health related application, there’s probably never going to be “one-to-fit-all” solution. Everybody is different, everybody has different needs. So it’s anyway in the hands of the people to keep track and somehow figure out their own health. Why not use computer programs to help with that?

What I like about this idea:

  • the pay off is huge: if I can make something that somehow guides me to learn about how my body works, I can tune it to a potentially great improvement of quality of life
  • it would basically use the knowledge and skills from a field in which I’m currently doing a PhD
    • although I’m in the field in a completely different direction, I still have access to all the materials and people to ask for advice
  • it’s not only about health, but also for sport performance and staying in a good shape as I get older
  • there’s a potential for utilizing an IoT-like ecosystem (and playing with hardware):
    • for example: sensors for measuring dust particles in an apartment

I’ve started with keeping track of what I eat because I suspect that diet has a lot to do with many aspects of a person’s health. The problem that I always found with keeping track of what I eat is that I never know to which level of detail I should do it. This time what I’m trying to do is to a) write it down in a physical notebook (no format, easiest form of keeping a record), and b) track on any level (whatever fidelity I have is better than nothing at all):

I’ve started keeping track of the diet but I still haven’t started the programming and I still have to figure out to which format I’m gonna transcript the manual records.