Happy New Year from all of us at QIC! We're all back and ready to make 2018 our best year yet. 2017 was a great year for us. Our crew went from 5 to 10, we graduated from the UCF Business Incubator, and moved into our first real office. We completed our second Phase I SBIR for NAWC-TSD, started our first project for CTTSO, and continued our work for the Army Research Laboratory and ADL Initiative. Our researchers presented papers and posters at conferences like SIOP, ATD, HFES, HCII, and I/ITSEC. I had the opportunity to serve as chair of the I/ITSEC Emerging Concepts and Innovative Technologies subcommittee, which was a great experience. We discovered - and mastered - the greatest VR music game ever developed, Audioshield. And, of course, I got to spend some quality time in Uranus, MO. I'm honored to have such an inspiring team working for me, to collaborate with great technology partners, and to do meaningful work in support of our Service members.
Toward the end of the year, I like to do some self-reflection and take stock of everything I've learned...
I love playing with numbers and visualizing data, and I take the same approach to myself. If you live on the internet like I do, there's a lot of information you can play with. The challenge is finding the right data to tell you something new. For example, when they first came out, I was obsessed with my FitBit. After a few months, though, I had a pretty good idea of how many steps I was going to take on any given day and how many hours I was (or was not, let's be honest) sleeping. The heart rate monitor was initially interesting, especially when I freaked out about something, but after a while that stopped being informative. I think one of the great challenges data providers face is ensuring they're providing information that is relevant to the user at the time. If I'm trying to answer a research question, I need reliable and valid measures. But as scientists, we don't ask the same question over and over - we ask it until we are satisfied with the answer and then move on to new challenges.
I'll share my attempt at a "year in review" using data you can easily find about yourself. I will warn you this is not for the faint of heart. Let's start with the scariest data of all: your Google search history. You can download all your Google activity through Takeout, including your calendar, contacts, photos, and location history. Most of this is not that interesting, but your search history is. And if you tend to ask a lot of random questions like I do, it's pretty entertaining. As an added bonus, this year I acquired a car with Android Auto, so I can see all the times I told my phone to "OK Google, text Frank." This year, I searched for "horrible monsters in Wisconsin," "Is Orlando on fire," "what constitutes non-edible fat" and "Pokestops in Tokyo." (The latter was during my obsession with Pokémon GO, back when stuff like this used to work.) Interestingly, I remember most of the reasons I Googled these things, and others that were more serious and sometimes sad.
Twitter allows you to download your data by month, and if you go to your Analytics page, it does a lot of the legwork for you. I don't tweet very much, so this is not usually particularly relevant to me. There is one exception, though - during I/ITSEC. Our friends at Scraawl provide great analytics about Twitter trends during the conference, and it's always a personal goal of mine to make the Twitter leaderboard. This year, I was humbled by the prolific Diana Teel, who out-tweeted a self-retweeting bot. But, I did make the top 6!
Facebook also gives you access to everything you post on their site. I downloaded my timeline, cleaned out the most common words (e.g., my name, days of the week, months) and made a word cloud of it here. You can let it automatically scale the word size based on frequency, which I did. It's a lot of words, but you can get an idea of what I was talking about the most (hurricanes, Orlando, and QIC for example), the hashtags I used (#summerofperpetualtravel, #irmagherd, and #QICtravels), who I was talking to, and who posted on my timeline.
While you can't pull your Spotify data, it does give you your "2017 Wrapped" which provides some high-level insights into your use of their service. For example, I listened to 54,977 minutes of music this year, most of which was spent playing "Despacito" on repeat.
One final tool I like playing with is this language style matcher. I can't vouch for its validity, because I haven't researched the rubric it uses, but it's maintained by a professor at the University of Texas at Austin and the other tests on the site are legit. The tool compares writing samples between two people to determine whether they are "in synch." It works best with a conversation (e.g. email or chat history), but I've used it with writing samples in similar formats. I've tried it with a few people, and I have yet to be surprised by the results. At the very least, it's fun.
I hope your 2018 is off to a great start! Let's make some great memories to look back on this time next year.