The idea of aggregating data from disparate sources is a common issue on the internet and the search for doing this with social services was the impetus for this blog. I started to see this phenomenon become an issue for the quantified self community as more devices and services for tracking became available. I’ve seen several services come online to tackle the issue of aggregating quantified self related data over the last few years and list them here.
One of the primary reasons for aggregating multiple sources of activity data is to provide a single view to more easily glean insights. A simple method to visualize this is by seeing multiple bar graphs plotted together based on these distinct data points. I’ve been searching for a personal dashboard that would allow me to import my personal data from both hardware devices and web services that I use. I have tried several services and TicTrac offers all the features I was looking for with beautiful displays with a great intuitive interface. I’ve been using the service for several months now and have been impressed by the unique ways it allows me to visualize my data. The service layers your data, and provides some comparison insights to help give a better understanding so you can draw some conclusions on your own.
While TicTrac has the ability to provide a simple view for your data, it has a multitude of features and ways to tweak your views which I will go over to some degree here. You start by telling it what external data you want to sync to it. They import data from Fitbit, Jawbone, Bodymedia, Withings, and several other device makers. But the sources you can import aren’t limited to quantified self related data. They also import from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social services. In the image below you can see the full list of supported services along with what I’ve linked to the left.
Once you’ve determined what data you want to link you create what they call “Projects” which are dashboards that allow you to choose the data to display in the form of tracker widgets. When you add a widget you tell it which service to pull data from and then you have options as to which individual metrics from the service you want as well as the method to display it. Once you’ve added widgets you can create graphs by choosing individual widgets using a drag and drop interface. I’ve created two projects. One to display my personal activity and health related data and the other to display my online social data.
In my above dashboard you can see I have a variety of widgets showing various metrics. The widgets often offer various options to configure the data to be displayed. For instance if you look at “My Weight” widget you see a daily trend graph. I also have the option of simply displaying the value for the last time I weighed myself here or I can show a value for my average weight for this month or other time ranges.
In addition to linking services and importing data for widgets you have the ability to choose widgets you can use to manually log data within TicTrac. In my dashboard above you can see widgets I’ve added for energy level, stress, and happiness. Each of these allow you to add a rating value along a 5 point scale based on pre-filled text descriptors along with a note. These get time-stamped and you can log these as many times as you want per day. In my case I was only entering values for each of my trackers once per day.
If you look above the widgets you can see a daily trend graph based on data for several of the trackers on my dashboard. This graph allows me to see any correlations between different metrics I’m tracking. Looking at the end of this graph you can see that my stress is going up, my sleep time is going down and my weight is going up. Those are the types of correlations that can become apparent when viewing all of this data this way.
If you look at the trend graph in my dashboard you can see that there are also options to display a summary or breakdown. These are additional ways to display your data in a way to help analyze it better. Below I’ve show the breakdown graph for my stress level tracking. TicTrac can also send you emails with the results of your graph data which is helpful if you don’t monitor daily by getting these reports pushed to you. You can also access your data on the go with their iOS app. Unfortunately they don’t currently offer an app for Android.
Another great feature is the ability to export your data. On each of the tracker configurations you have an option to export the data associated with it. This offers a way to circumvent any devices or services that don’t easily let you export your data. I tested this by exporting my Fitbit Aria weight data and got a nice clean Excel spreadsheet showing all of my readings.
I stated earlier that TicTrac isn’t limited to quantified self related data and you could glean what other types of data can be imported based on the services supported. I created another dashboard to display my activity on social services. Here you can see several metrics displayed in the widgets for the services I’ve connected. You can also see a summary report of my tweets for several days.
So hopefully this sheds some light on the value of aggregating personal data and how TicTrac helps you achieve this. I just scratched the surface of both features and how you can use the service. I encourage you to create an account and check out how easy it is to get setup quickly and start viewing your own data.
Here’s the promo video for TicTrac to help illustrate some of the items covered here as well.