Posts Tagged ‘data’

CYBER IN SECURITIES, Pepco Edison Place Gallery, Washington, DC

Friday, August 9th, 2013

CyberInSecurities_grid

clockwise l to r: Ricarada McDonald and Donna Szoke, and all watched over by machines of loving grace; Birgit Bachler, Walter Langelaar, Owen Mundy, and Tim Schwartz, Commodify.us; Lexie Mountain, Ball Hard; Whitefeather, Parent Folder

CYBER IN SECURITIES
Dates: August 30 – September 27, 2013
Location: Pepco Edison Place Gallery, 702 8th Street, NW, Washington, DC

Curated by: Lisa Moren, Professor, Department of Visual Art, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Participating Artists: Birgit Bachler, Walter Langelaar, Owen Mundy, and Tim Schwartz; Channel TWo (CH2): Adam Trowbridge and Jessica Westbrook, with Jesus Duran; Heather Dewey-Hagborg; Hasan Elahi; The Force of Freedom with Dave Young; Taylor Hokanson; Ricarda McDonald and Donna Szoke; Lexie Mountain; Preemptive Media; David Rokeby; Julia Kim Smith; and WhiteFeather

Opening Reception: Friday, August 30, 2013, 6-8pm
Exhibition Hours: Tuesday – Friday, 12pm-4pm

Experimental Media Video Screening Series
Juried by Jason Eppink, Associate Curator of Digital Media, Museum of the Moving Image, New York

Experimental Media Video Series Night One: Thursday, September 12, 2013, 6:30pm
Location: The Phillips Collection, 1600 21st Street, NW, Washington, DC

Experimental Media Video Series Night Two: Monday, September 24, 2013, 6:30pm
Location: The Corcoran Gallery of Art and College of Art + Design, 500 17th Street, NW, Washington, DC

Experimental Media Symposium: Saturday, September 21, 2013
Location: Pepco Edison Place Gallery, 702 8th Street, NW, Washington, DC

Experimental Media 2013 will explore security, privacy, and surveillance in the digital age, through a gallery exhibition, video screenings series, and panel discussion.

Washington Post review of “Grid, Sequence Me” show + documentation

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

washingtonpost

The Washington Post recently published a review recently about my and Joelle’s exhibition at Flashpoint Gallery in D.C. Check it out: Joelle Dietrick & Owen Mundy: Grid, Sequence Me, by Maura Judkis, Jan 11, 2013.

A few elements will be recognizable, such as the brutalist outline of the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building, but many are stripped down to their most generic shapes, making rows of windows look like charts and bar graphs. The projections of some of those shapes echo and interplay with the forms of the Flashpoint gallery interior.

Dietrick and Mundy also scraped The Post’s listings of recent home sales, with architectural elements from some of those homes appearing before a dense thicket of live-streamed code. It’s a visual reminder of just how complicated the housing industry has become.

There’s a sense in the animation that the structures are tumbling away from you — just as homeownership has slipped out of the grip of many Americans. But the piece will elicit a different reaction here than in Florida, where the effects of the housing market crash have been far more pronounced. In Washington, we’ve mostly been insulated from it: Foreclosures are few, short sales are sparse. In the jumble of buildings and code, “Grid, Sequence Me,” may serve as a warning for those who haven’t experienced that sense of loss — but who indirectly, though policy work, may have influenced the systems that led to the crash.

I also finished a short piece with video from the installation and screen captures of the Processing visualization.

Grid, Sequence Me projection test (cyan) – work in progress

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

Joelle and I are working on an installation for Flashpoint Gallery in Washington D.C. This animation was made using ColladaFragmenter to deconstruct the architecture, and Processing with OBJloader to visualize the 3D fragments. The text is scraped from pages describing short sell real estate in D.C. This is work in progress:

Packet Switching project: ColladaFragmenter software, Kassel, Germany and University of Florida Public Commission

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

Joelle Dietrick and I embarked on a new body of work this summer called “Packet Switching.” Inspired by her Sherwin Series images and wall paintings, and my work deconstructing and re-visualizing source code and other data, we’ve created two new software projects, as well as a series of limited edition prints, large photo installations, wall-sized paintings, and animations.

The full statement explains our process and intent clearly:

Packet Switching is an ongoing body of work by Joelle Dietrick and Owen Mundy that visualizes architecture as fragments affected by economic and communications systems.

The title of the series references how contemporary communications systems break digital files into smaller manageable blocks of data called packets. Each packet is then sent through a network, taking the quickest route possible, and reassembled once they reach their destination. One JPG image, for example, might be broken into several packets, each of which may travel a different path through the net, even through different cities, before being recompiled into a copy of the original file.

To reference this common process used in networked systems, we wrote custom software that deconstructs a 3D model’s source code and produces unique fragments. We further remixed these fragments using an original application created in Processing. The resulting images become limited edition prints, large photo installations, wall-sized paintings, and animations.

Our process underscores how incidental fragmentation and automation can streamline markets, but also make them vulnerable to systems failure. The use of architecture specifically points to recent real estate market volatility and considers how communication technology-enabled pursuits of profit margins alters our most basic needs.

The first software, that “deconstructs a 3D model’s source code and produces unique fragments,” is open source and available on Github. Essentially, the PHP software, parses a 3D COLLADA file and exports a set number of geometries, that can then be further broken down and used in an artwork or design.

The second software, which we will release soon, remixes these fragments using Processing. The video below shows an example of the whole process.

Wall painting at “Temporary Home” in Kassel, Germany

While artists-in-residence at Temporary Home, in Kassel, Germany, which coincided with Documenta13, Joelle Dietrick and I completed a wall-sized temporary painting based on the architecture from the Bauhaus School at Dessau and 2012 American color forecasts.

Commission at Weimer Hall at the University of Florida

Joelle and I have also received a commission to complete Packet Switching (Weimer Hall) at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications this fall. This will be inkjet on adhesive polyester on a large wall (approx. 177.5 ft. x 20.2 ft.). More details soon.

Project Presentation and Mini-Seminar: Live Project Launch, Workshop Outcomes and Talks on [Social] Media Hacking

Friday, July 27th, 2012

Tonight Tim Schwartz, Walter Langelaar, Birgit Bachler, and I share our new project. The concept has taken a turn from the original plan, but will be exciting nonetheless.

Project Presentation and Mini-Seminar: Live Project Launch, Workshop Outcomes and Talks on [Social] Media Hacking
Friday, July 27, 2012

Tonight we launch the new version of “Give Me My Data!”, a project that together with Artists In Residence Tim C. Schwartz and Owen Mundy was revised and revived in WORM’s moddr_lab.

Give Me My Data offers functionality to its users with which they can retrieve and backup data and files from several key social networks; partly designed as a backup tool moreover targeted at networks that completely lack these functions.

Besides launching the project and am in-depth presentation by the artists, Walter Langelaar of WORM will give an introduction and overview of similar (art)works and earlier projects that came out of WORMs studios like the “Web2.0 Suicide Machine”.

Further more we’ll have presentations of current and ongoing projects from the lab, like Birgit Bachler’s ‘online social gardening’ platform “Talk To The Plant”, the Force of Freedom (Roel Roscam Abbing and Micha Prinsen) present “partsba.se”, and Geert Lovink talks about the “Unlike Us” initiative. The last addition to tonights programme is a presentation by Greenhost.nl on their very excellent RePress project; a WordPress plugin that automagically converts your site to a proxy-server countering censorship on the internet!

In conclusion there will be an open Q&A and panel discussion moderated by Florian Cramer of Creating010.

Projects & Speakers

Florian Cramer – Creating010
Florian Cramer, is a reader and programme director at the applied research center Creating 010 at Hogeschool Rotterdam, The Netherlands. he is a critical writer on arts, culture and information technology. Recent publications include: Exe.cut(up)able statements: Poetische Kalküle und Phantasmen des selbstausführenden Texts, Wilhelm Fink, 201.

Unlike Us / Geert Lovink
The aim of Unlike Us is to establish a research network of artists, designers, scholars, activists and programmers who work on ‘alternatives in social media’. Through workshops, conferences, online dialogues and publications, Unlike Us intends to both analyze the economic and cultural aspects of dominant social media platforms and to propagate the further development and proliferation of alternative, decentralized social media software.

Tim C. Schwartz – moddr_/WORM Artist in Residence
Tim Schwartz grew up in St. Louis, MO. He received a BA in Physics from Wesleyan University and an MFA in Visual Arts from the University of California, San Diego. In January 2010, he developed a technology to help reunited missing people affected by the earthquake in Haiti and now co-runs an organization dealing with family reunification. Last year Schwartz spent four months traveling the country in a mobile research laboratory investigating what is lost as archives become digital.

Birgit Bachler – moddr_/WORM
Birgit is an Austrian artist living and working in Rotterdam/NL.
She graduated as BA in Information Design / Media & Interactiondesign at the Universityof Applied Sciences in Graz/AT and is a recent graduate of the MA Networked Media at Piet Zwart Institute Rotterdam. She has a background in interactive, audiovisual media and programming. 
Her interests focus on the influence of new media on our everyday lives and the similarities and differences between human and computational behavior.

RePress / Greenhost.nl
“This plugin was made in response to the ongoing limitation of the Open Web. In the dawn of 2012 we found ourselves confronted with a court-ruling blocking the Piratebay.org in the Netherlands. On the other side of the ocean new laws are being discussed to curtail web-freedom even further.”

We zijn pioneer in groene hosting. We ontwikkelden een innovatief energiebesparend hostingplatform waardoor we 70% minder energie gebruiken dan andere hosters. Onze servers staat bij Evoswitch, het meest duurzame datacenter van Nederland.

Owen Mundy – moddr_/WORM Artist in Residence
Owen Mundy is an artist, designer, and programmer who investigates public space and its relationship to data. His artwork highlights inconspicuous trends and offers tools to make hackers out of everyday users. He has an MFA in Visual Art from the University of California, San Diego and is an Assistant Professor of Art at Florida State University.

partsba.se / Force Of Freedom
At partsba.se you can upload, share and download digital designs for real physical products. Partsba.se allows you to share designs of any nature, whether these designs are copyrighted or dangerous. Unlike other websites partsba.se does not claim any rights of your designs once you upload them.In the near future partsba.se will run on a fully secure and anonymous server.

We believe that users should be free to reverse engineer any everyday objects that surround them. Either to improve these objects, customize them, repair them or just to understand them.

The Force Of Freedom is a Rotterdam based collective founded by Micha Prinsen and Roel Roscam Abbing in 2009. Researching ways in which we can relate to things that happen on-line.

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Freedom for Our Files: Canvas starter (Facebook) app

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

I’m happy to share the code from a Facebook app I created for a workshop earlier this year.

This is an example of a simple Facebook canvas application. This code was originally demoed during the Freedom for Our Files Facebook API workshop at the 2011 Art Meets Radical Openness festival in Linz, Austria. You can view and download the source code on github

The application is very simple; it creates a Facebook object, performs calls to get data belonging to the current user, then prints the data exactly as it is returned. It has examples of basic Facebook Graph API calls as well as an example of FQL (Facebook Query Language).

New line plotter prints of I Am Unable to Fulfill Your Wish

Sunday, December 11th, 2011

Here are some images Ryan Boatright of Atelier Boba made while he was printing one of my network visualizations from the I Am Unable to Fulfill Your Wish series on their new line plotter. The prints arrived last week from their location in Paris and are great to see in person. The line plotter repeated so many of the lines it actually polished the surface of the paper causing the print to reflect light.

Facebook’s God complex: No data for the “wicked”

Friday, July 8th, 2011

I was quoted recently in a TechCrunch article about the ongoing battle between Google and Facebook to draw users to their respective social networking services. In the article, The Only Backdoor Left To Sneak Your Facebook Friends Into Google+ Is Yahoo, Erick Schonfeld writes:

‘Over the weekend, Facebook blocked a Google Chrome extension called the Facebook Friend Exporter. And in fact, Facebook changed its OAuth 2.0 API in such a way that it “suddenly removed email addresses from the queries without warning,” says Owen Mundy, creator of Give Me My Data. Other data can still be exported, just not your friends’ email addresses.’ [1]

I wanted to clarify something about the above because my contribution is slightly vague. I also wanted to elaborate for other developers and people interested in how to get their data, specifically the email addresses *out* of Facebook.

Getting your data our of Facebook is a hot issue right now with the emergence of Google+. It’s important to be able to preserve your data, especially in the event you want to exit Facebook, or prepare for its possible demise. I think most people don’t care which social networking software they use, as long as they can stay in touch with their friends. Many depend on Facebook to keep their friends’ contact information up to date. Their friends’ phone numbers, emails, and physical addresses may have changed, but they can still be found on Facebook.

This is one great benefit of Facebook, but I think they’ve come to take a higher-than-thou approach to user data. For example, if I use a single software on my computer to manage contact data for my friends, send them messages with pictures, etc., I am not locked-into a contract with the machine nor the software. I physically have the device that stores this data in my possession, and therefore can do whatever I like with it—assuming I can wrangle my data out of it.

One of the great benefits of the cloud is access, right? Wrong. Facebook has a god’s eye view regarding the matter of our data. The view from on high is that they can do whatever benefits Facebook, not necessarily the user. So they continue profiting from our activity while protecting it’s evidence from any company/person/software which could compromise their lead in social networking. Unfortunately this includes us, so we are ultimately at their mercy.

But Facebook is not a merciless God. They don’t charge to use their service or store my data. This is the tradeoff. We sacrifice privacy—our right to not be tracked, advertised to, or sniffed by governments—in order to play games, have stupid political debates, and post pictures of our kids. So, they have the right to allow or prevent access to this information, regardless of whether it is right.

Regarding getting email addresses of your contacts, as far as I know, there are three ways to mass export your friends’ contact data, only one of which is currently allowed by Facebook.

Hacking

The Facebook Friend Exporter, created by Mohamed Mansour, is a browser extension that works independent of the Facebook API. It scrapes your friends’ contact data from the Facebook pages you visit and exports them as CSV. First, Facebook’s rules here for reusing this type of data are not exactly clear. While they don’t explicitly ban saving the contact info of your friends, the have a catch-all statement that tries to set guidelines for doing so. One could argue by accepting your friend request a user has already consented to sharing with you.

“If you collect information from users, you will: obtain their consent, make it clear you (and not Facebook) are the one collecting their information, and post a privacy policy explaining what information you collect and how you will use it.” [2]

One thing that is clear is the method the Facebook Friend Exporter extension uses is banned according to Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities:

“You will not collect users’ content or information, or otherwise access Facebook, using automated means (such as harvesting bots, robots, spiders, or scrapers) without our permission.” [2]

And as expected, Facebook has taken measures to prevent Mansour’s app from working.

“Mansour says that Facebook removed emails from their mobile site, which were critical to the original design of his extension. He told me that the company had implemented a throttling mechanism: if you visit any friend page five times in a short period of time, the email field is removed.” [3]

This is not the first time Facebook has referenced their Statement of Rights and Responsibilities to take measures to keep user data from hackers, artists, or competitors. In 2010 they served moddr and other makers of the Web 2.0 Suicide Machine with a cease and desist letter to prevent them from providing a service for Facebook users to delete their accounts. The letter, which claimed the project was guilty of “Soliciting users’ Facebook login information; Accessing a Facebook account belonging to someone else; Collecting Facebook users’ content or information using automated means such as scripts or scrapers without Facebook’s permission” was possibly effective. Currently only users of MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter can commit “virtual suicide.”

The Face to Facebook (see image on left) project by Paolo Cirio and Alessandro Ludovico stole one-million Facebook profiles, filtered them with face-recognition software, and then posted them on a fake dating website sorted by facial characteristics. From a statement by the makers:

“Everybody can steal personal data and re-contextualize it in a completely unexpected context. And that shows, once more, how fragile and potentially manipulable the online environment actually is.”

I agree, and I like the project. But in a public work such as this it’s hard to argue, in my opinion, that this project will help the average web user. While many may reconsider the type of information they post, more than likely they will think this project is another example of the “bad guys” (a.k.a. hackers) doing bad things. While it critiques, in a very amusing and relevant way, the issue of online privacy, it leaves the user feeling violated, not necessarily thoughtful. As a work of protest it encounters the same problem that holding a giant sign in someone’s face that says “go to hell”—It makes it hard for the other person to see your perspective when you do that.

While I appreciated the fun jab and reference to FaceMash, Facebook did not see the humor in the project. The creators received cease and desist letters and were threatened with multiple lawsuits from Facebook’s lawyers. And in a final spiteful measure, Facebook deleted their profiles [4]. Apparently the rule is, what happens on Facebook, stays on Facebook.

Using the API

While I was sure that in the past my app, Give Me My Data, was able to retrieve a user’s friend’s email address, when I tested it after the Facebook Friend Exporter news broke I found no emails. Looking around the web I can’t find any evidence that Facebook ever allowed this data to be accessed. While you can still export all other data from your Facebook profile using Give Me My Data, this tiny and important string of characters with an ‘@’ is one essential component Facebook won’t allow. Likely, the policy was spurred by spam prevention, but given the above, it has the added bonus of blocking an exodus of users from Facebook.

In any case when you run the following FQL (Facebook Query Language) against their API it doesn’t error. This means the field exists, but they have written a custom script to remove it from the results.

SELECT first_name, middle_name, last_name, email
FROM user
WHERE uid IN (SELECT uid2 FROM friend WHERE uid1 = me())

Becoming a Preferred Developer

In the article above, Schonfeld also explains how users can access their Facebook friend’s contact info by first importing it into a Yahoo! account and then exporting a CSV which can be imported into Google+ (or anything for that matter). I believe that Yahoo! belongs to the Facebook Preferred Developer Consultant Program which gives them access above and beyond regular developers:

“Facebook provides PDCs with increased access to its employees and training. PDCs are expected to abide by program expectations around policy compliance, integration quality, and high-level cooperation with Facebook.” [6]

Whatever kind of cooperation it is that Facebook is giving these preferred developers, one can be sure it includes access to data Facebook considers sensitive, like email addresses. While Yahoo! is not listed as a preferred developer on the Facebook page above, they have access to the emails so they clearly have some kind of arrangement.

Google, on the other hand, most definitely does not. This is not the first time Google and Facebook have gotten into a scuffle over sharing (or lack of) data. Late in 2010 Google stated they would no longer allow Facebook and other services access to their users’ data unless Facebook or the other service allowed data to be accessed by Google. [7]

In closing, we already know everyone wants our data. All the clicks, likes, comments, photos, and video we incur or upload are tracked, analyzed, and ultimately compiled and sold to advertisers or others in the business of molding consumer (or political) behavior. We’ve come a long way since Gutenberg, but just like when he was alive, it seems there will always be powerful groups in control of the media of the day. And, even with the utopian promise of a democratic internet, information continues to be manipulated or hidden in order to keep them powerful.

Notes

  1. Schonfeld, Erick, “The Only Backdoor Left To Sneak Your Facebook Friends Into Google+ Is Yahoo,” Jul 5, 2011, http://techcrunch.com/2011/07/05/google-facebook-friends-yahoo/
  2. “Statement of Rights and Responsibilities,” Facebook, last revised April 26, 2011, http://www.facebook.com/terms.php
  3. Protalinski, Emil, “Facebook blocks Google Chrome extension for exporting friends,” July 5, 2011 http://www.zdnet.com/blog/facebook/facebook-blocks-google-chrome-extension-for-exporting-friends/1935
  4. “Angry Victims and Eager Business Partners React to the “Face to Facebook” Art Stunt,” ARTINFO, February 11, 2011 http://www.artinfo.com/news/story/36963/status-update-angry-victims-and-eager-business-partners-react-to-the-face-to-facebook-art-stunt/
  5. Gayathri, Amrutha, “Why Facebook’s Acts of Desperation Are Not Enough to Stop Google+,” International Business Times, July 6, 2011, http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/174946/20110706/google-plus-facebook-chrome-extension-block-facebook-friends-exporter-disable-social-network-yahoo-b.htm
  6. “Facebook Preferred Developer Consultant Program FAQ,” http://developers.facebook.com/preferreddevelopers/#FAQ
  7. Oreskovic, Alexei, “Google bars data from Facebook as rivalry heats up,” Reuters, Nov 5, 2010, http://www.reuters.com/article/2010/11/05/us-google-facebook-idUSTRE6A455420101105

Give Me My Data upgrade: New API, authorization, and data formats

Monday, July 4th, 2011

No one would be surprised to learn that almost all of the user-generated content websites use our personal data to sell advertisements. In fact 97% of Google’s revenue comes from advertising.[1] That’s why it’s important these sites provide as much access as possible to the real owners of our data‐us. After all, we put it there and allow them to use it in exchange for the use of their software. Seems like a fair trade if you ask me.

A year and a half ago Facebook didn’t provide any access. That’s why I created Give Me My Data, to help users reclaim and reuse their personal data they put on Facebook.

By giving more agency to users of online systems, Give Me My Data may have already impacted the nature of online application development. In November 2010, almost a year after I launched Give Me My Data, Facebook created their own service for users to export their profile from Facebook as a series of HTML pages. Unlike Give Me My Data, the Facebook service doesn’t allow you to select which data you want or to choose custom formats to export. It also doesn’t give you options for visualization like the custom network graphs that Give Me My Data offers.

I believe their motivation originates in part with my application, likely due to the popularity of Give Me My Data, and points to the potential usefulness of similar apps. While years down the road may reveal many other online systems giving users control over their data, I see this as a positive effect where the content we create, as well as the means to share and manage it, are democratized.

Meanwhile, the above also keeps me hard at work developing the Give Me My Data project. This week I rewrote the program to use Facebook’s new OAuth authorization, which also required rewriting all of the code that fetches the data. Previously it used the REST API which is being deprecated (sometime?) in the future. I also added new data types, fixed the CSV format (which had the rows and columns mixed-up), and added the possibility to export in the JSON data format.

Finally, in the data selector, I distinguished standard data and customized data types. When I say customized, I mean that I’ve written code that mashes together more than one data table and/or addresses a specific question. For example, right now users can select from two types of network graphs and corresponding formats. One describes the user’s relationship to their friends, and the other describes the user’s relationship to their friends, as well as all their friends’ relationships to each other in various graph description languages. This is how I made the network graph image below. I’m also interested in hearing other suggestions for custom queries I might add. The project will be open source on Github soon, so even code contributions will be welcome.

Anyway, please try out the new version. You may have to delete the app from your allowed applications and then re-authorize it if you’ve used it before. As usual, you can provide feedback on the application page, and you can also contact me on Twitter via @givememydata.

[1] “Google Financial Tables for Quarter ending June 30, 2009” Retrieved October 13, 2010

12 apps to track, share, and visualize personal data

Monday, July 4th, 2011

When it comes to personal data everyone’s first concern is usually privacy. But a lot of us want to share our data too, with friends, colleagues, and even complete strangers. While numbers have been used for centuries to improve the way we manufacture and do business, using them to quantify our personal lives is a recent phenomenon.

I’ve been thinking about this because one of my goals in creating Give Me My Data was to inspire others to reuse their data, and respond with images and objects they created. But I’m learning if you don’t know a programming language your choices are somewhat scattered and intimidating.

In a recent email exchange with Nicholas Felton, creator of daytum.com and other quality data products, I asked him what other user data sharing and/or visualization web applications he might have encountered while working on daytum.

Included in this article are the three apps he mentioned with my research plus nine additions of my own. All of the apps I mention help users access their own data to track, share, and/or visualize it either by recording it themselves or exporting it from another software. There’s a table at the end of the article to summarize and compare each.

Give Me My Data givememydata.com free

First, to give some context, Give Me My Data is a Facebook application that helps users export their data out of Facebook for reuse in visualizations, archives, or any possible method of digital storytelling. Data can be exported in common formats like CSV, XML, and JSON as well as customized network graph formats.

Status: operational, in-development

Daytum daytum.com free/$$

And to further contextualize, I’ll also address Daytum, an online app that allows users to collect, categorize, and share personal or other data. You can add any data that can be quantified or written down and organize and display it in many forms including bar and pie charts, plain text, and lists. There’s also a mobile site for quick submissions from your device or you can use their iphone app.

Status: operational, but not currently being developed

Geckoboard geckoboard.com $$

Geckoboard is a hosted real-time status board for all sorts of business (or personal) data. You can view web analytics, CRM, support, infrastructure, project management, etc., in one interface, on your computer or smart phone. To see data from other web services in your “dashboard” you add “widgets”—choose from a large list of APIs, give permissions, configure a variety of options, and see your data in a customized graph. Note though, this service is only for presenting data that is hosted elsewhere, and only in this interface. If you like looking at numbers all day, this is for you.

Status: operational

Track-n-Graph trackngraph.com free/$$

Track, graph, and share any information you can think of: your weight, gas mileage, coffee consumption, anything. The design is a little awkward, the graphs don’t display in Chrome or Safari (Mac), and as far as I can tell there’s no API, but the site seems very useful for storing and making simple graphs of your personal data. There are also various “templates” you can reuse to keep track of data like the Workout Tracker, which has fields for gender and age in addition to minutes you worked out, all of which are important in figuring other data (e.g. calories).

Status: operational

your.flowingdata.com your.flowingdata.com/ free

your.flowingdata lets you record your personal data with Twitter. With it you can collect, interact, customize views, and determine privacy by sending private tweets to your account. This project is created by Nathan Yau who writes Flowing Data and studies statistics at UCSD.

Status: operational, in-development

mycrocosm mycro.media.mit.edu free

Mycrocosm is a web service that allows you to track and share data and statistical graphs from the minutiae of daily life. Mycrocosm was developed by Yannick Assogba of the Sociable Media Group of the MIT Media Lab.

Status: operational, but not currently being developed

ManyEyes www-958.ibm.com free

ManyEyes is a project by the IBM Research and the IBM Cognos software group. On Many Eyes you can upload your own data and create visualizations, and view, discuss, and rate other’s visualizations and data sets. It is a great concept but it hasn’t evolved much since its original launch. In fact I’m finding the visualization technology has slowly devolved, leaving only about 20% of visualizations actually displaying (Chrome 12.0 on OSX 10.5.8 if folks are reading).

Status: operational

Fitbit fitbit.com $99.95

The Fitbit is a hardware device which tracks your motions and sleep throughout each day. This data can be uploaded and visualized on their website to realize information about your daily activities like calories burned, steps taken, distance traveled and sleep quality. The Fitbit contains a 3D motion sensor like the one found in the Nintendo Wii and plugs into a base station to upload the data.

Status: operational

Personal Google Search History google.com/history free

When I first saw this application on the Google site I was immediately alarmed. The amount of data they have collected is staggering; for example, “Total Google searches: 36323.” (since Jan 2006) This is a fantastic picture into the life of a user and what they are reading, watching, responding to. It’s like another, admittedly less manicured version, of Facebook. Instead of creating a profile, I am being profiled.

The privacy implications are serious here, which is probably why you have to login again to view it. It is also why a user’s search history draws the interest of interface artist, Johannes P. Osterhof, who is in the process of exploring the line between private and public data, as well as the even further-evaporated division between surveillance and social networks, in his one-year-long search history-made public project, simply titled, Google.

But, as everyone probably already knows, these big companies are making money and providing services. Google has the resources to take your privacy seriously. Well, kind of, because it mostly doesn’t fit into their business model to not track people.

Status: operational

Google Takeout google.com/takeout free

Speaking of funding, I’m quite impressed by this project. Google Takeout is developed by an engineering team at Google called the Data Liberation Front who take their jobs very seriously. In addition to their Google Takeout project, which allows you to export some of your data from Google, they have a really great website with current information about getting access to the data you store with Google.

Status: operational, in-development

gottaFeeling gottafeeling.com free/$$

gottaFeeling is an iphone application that allows you to track and share your feelings. It’s a simple concept, and while loaded down with a lot of rhetoric, reminds me of the amazing, “We Feel Fine.”

Status: in-development

BuzzData buzzdata.com unsure

Finally, I’ll end with BuzzData, a data-publishing platform that encourages the growth of communities around data. Not yet public, I’ve received a private taste of what this app will do, and it looks like it will be pretty cool. Think a mashup between Github and ManyEyes.

Status: still in-development, not public

So I’ll end with the table I created in my research. There are obviously many more types of ways to keep and manage data that I haven’t addressed here, but this is a good start. For further reading check out the Quantified Self blog/user community/conference created by Gary Wolf, who also authored, The Data-Driven Life, the New York Times article linked above.

track/ upload custom data types visualize publish privacy export mobile upload API price limits

Give Me
My Data

yes yes n/a no yes yes n/a no free none

Daytum

yes yes yes yes $$ yes mobile site and iphone app no free / $4/ month free account limited by amount

Geckoboard

no yes yes no yes no n/a only for viewing $9-$200
/ month
number of users

Track-n-Graph

yes yes yes yes yes no web-based no free / $25 per year free account limited by amount

your. flowingdata

yes yes yes yes yes yes via twitter via twitter free none

mycrocosm

yes yes yes yes yes no web-based email-based free none

ManyEyes

yes yes yes yes no yes no no free none

Buzzdata

yes yes yes yes yes yes email ??? ??? ???

Google Web History

yes n/a yes yes yes yes yes no free none

Google Takeout

yes yes n/a n/a yes yes n/a no free none

Fitbit

yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes $100 / website is free free web account limited by amount

gottaFeeling

yes no no yes yes no iphone no free none
track/upload Can you track or upload your own data?
custom data types Does the a support custom data types?
visualize Can you create visualizations with the app?
publish Can you publish your data with the software?
privacy Are there options for keeping your data private while using the app?
export Can you export the data back out?
mobile upload Are there options to track or upload data from a device?
API Is there an Application Program Interface that allows you to write code to manage data?
price Is there a free version?
limits What limits are imposed on the free version?

Update: Check out Google Guages and other Google Charts.