Looking Back on 2013 and Thoughts on What to Expect in 2014

Before I get into writing my thoughts on the topic at hand I wanted to explain that I have been using the term “Digital Preservation” to describe the topic that I began covering in earnest last year. There are many terms used for keeping digital content alive over time. In fact there are disagreements on what to use, but I liked digital preservation which I discovered reading Bill LeFurgy’s blog. But after spending last year monitoring the usage and content around the term on social networks I have seen that it is used more for preserving content in general. I have now chosen to use the term “Digital Legacy” which ties the preservation of digital content around a person. I figured I should explain this as changing the section name and using the term using forward may have created confusion. Now on to the post.

Meeting Gordon Bell was a big highlight for me this year.
Meeting Gordon Bell was a big highlight for me this year.

Looking back at 2013 I can see that I really increased my coverage of news around the quantified self. It really was a breakout year for the category that started with tons of great announcements at CES and continued through the year as activity trackers sold well and news penetrated the mainstream in a big way. In April I decided to simultaneously test 4 activity trackers to determine which one was best for me. It was an interesting experiment that proved there isn’t a clear winner in this space. It also seems that activity trackers were a hot gift during the holidays as my review and others got a bump in traffic.

CES is happening this week and it seems that many companies are jumping on the activity tracker band-wagon with a slew of new devices being announced. Several of the veterans have also announced new versions of their devices including Nike, Jawbone, and fitbit. However most of these are just evolutionary with just some minor improvements and nothing really notable that is taking them to the next level. Beyond perhaps a few surprises I feel this year will be pretty stagnant for activity trackers. Where I’m hoping we will see some advancements is in the correlation analysis of data to provide some simple and meaningful feedback for behavior adjustments to improve our life. This is what needs to happen to take these devices from interesting to more meaningful.

One thing that will make greater headway this year will be health monitoring and analysis devices and apps. With the continual advancement of powerful sensors, these devices are poised to really become great tools for preventative medicine. Hopefully the FDA will be able to find ways to catch up to these technologies so that they don’t get stifled in the US. If you want to get an idea of some of the new devices coming to the quantified self, digital health, and other areas, I recommend reading The Age of Context which does a great job of providing real examples of technologies coming to market in the near and distant future.

We continue to see new services around social data aggregation, although these have slowed down considerably from recent years and I don’t cover them as much.  I’ve really become a fan of Rebelmouse which I chose to use for the curated news section as well as my personal blog. It’s a great service that shines in this area. I’ll continue monitoring social and other data aggregation services and mention any that are doing something interesting or different. But my focus around data aggregation has shifted more towards software that helps archive our digital history. This is a newer area that has spawned several services such as SocialSafe which I reviewed last year. There are many facets to creating a digital legacy from the backup regimen, to the preparation for death, and the ability to view and search our digital data. I will continue to explore and share personal methods I’m using. This area is ripe for some innovative software and services and I will be focusing more on them this year.

Some other highlights this year were Attending the Quantified Self conference and meeting Gordon Bell as well as making Flipboard’s best magazines of 2013 list. This should be an exciting year and I’m looking forward to my continued coverage. I also wanted to remind you that even though there may be gaps in time between blog posts I’m continually sharing content that relates to what I cover here in several different places. So depending on where you like to consume your content you can follow along at one of the following outlets: