Datarella People – Florian Schumacher, QS Evangelist

Michael Reuter

9 April 2014

Here's the transcript of this Datarella (DR) interview with Florian Schumacher, Founder QS Meetups, Germany. DR Florian Schumacher, you started the first Quantified Self QS Meetup in Germany. Could you introduce yourself and tell us about your QS approach? Florian When I learned about Quantified Self in 2011, I immediately felt attracted by its very positive culture. Consequently, I started the QS meetups in Berlin and Munich in 2012 which is a lot of fun. Besides, I am a trendscout of Wearable Technologies AG. Here, I'm dealing with all devices you can wear and the sensors which collect behavioral data. DR What do you track yourself and how do you do that? Florian I regularly and passively track my weight, my body fat, my physical activities and my sleep - all those data are collected automatically, so that's completely effortless. Then, I manually collect sample data on my blood pressure, blood sugar, my girth, and I try to keep an eye on my haemogram. This, I do on a weekly basis. Then I track other data as time, which is quite sophisticated, since it's not automated at all and I track everything: every project, every lunch, every activity finds its place in my calendar. So I have a good overview of how I spend my time, and how my time is devoted to my hobbies. DR You told us that you have lost weight - voluntarily, that is - that means tracking has very specific consequences on your life! Florian Yes, indeed. I have been testing QS devices for three years now. While I kind of just tested theses devices before, I have started to use them for special purposes last year. I have been trying to lose weight, I'm on a special diet and let my ape count my calorie intake. Then I check what nutritients my food actually contains. Then I exercise regularly - and by tracking all that I can understand my body's changes very well - and I like that very much! DR Then for you QS is more a motivational thing, rather than a supervisory body... Florian QS is a control body, but more in a positive sense: by comparing different measured values I learn and get a better understanding of my body and, consequently, I get motivated and become happy even if sometimes this way is somewhat hard. DR Do you share your tracking data with others? Florian Yes, but I only share some of my data: e.g. I share my steps within my Fitbit community - but only my steps - since for me these are indiscriminate data. All other data I would share with my doctor rather than with my friends. DR So you draw a line at sharing your data. Could you elaborate on that a little more? Florian I think that's very personal everybody should define what data to share individually. Sharing your data can be very motivating if people have mutual goals. There are studies showing that everybody will be far more successful if all share their data which each other; e.g. people lose two to three times more weight if they share their goals and data. That means in case of very personal data (e.g. illnesses) I would share my data within a closed group of likeminded people, but I think everybody should decide that by herself - and there should be some control mechanisms preventing abuse of this data. DR At QS13, Gary Wolf [Co-founder of the Quantified Self] said that Tracking and data sharing would become a social responsibility to provide access to important learnings to everybody. Do you agree with Gary? Florian I don't think that self-tracking should become a, obligation for everybody. But what I strongly support is the anonymous sharing of data to realize potential benefits in scientific research and pharmaceutical product development. I'm sure that this will promote our culture to the next level. DR A last question: which tracking app or gadget do you like most? Florian I really like this Basis band, since it automatically tracks my sleep, my movement and it accurately calculates my calorie intake. At the moment the Basis is the most accurate tracking device on the market and I like it very much! DR Thank you! Florian Welcome!