Gary Isaac Wolf
I’m a journalist, author, researcher, and the founder of Quantified Self.
Previously, I was founding executive editor of Wired Digital and a contributing editor at Wired magazine, a Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University, and a visiting professor at the School of Communication, Media and Information Technology at Hanze Technical University in The Netherlands.
I enjoy hearing from people involved in personal science and the Quantified Self community. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch:
Right now I’m writing a book called Personal Science: Learning to Observe. It’s aim is to inspire readers to seek answers to their own questions using an empirical approach. I’m fortunate that my book has five coauthors: Steven Jonas, Martijn de Groot, Sara Riggare, Thomas Blomseth Christiansen, and Jakob Eg Larsen.
The Quantified Self is a collaboration among users and makers of self-tracking tools who share an interest in self-knowledge through numbers. Our first international conference was held in 2011. Here are some links to key resources and ways to connect and contribute.
Contains the QS Show&Tell library of hundreds of self tracking talks given at our meetings, including many with transcripts.
This is the place to get technical self-tracking questions answered by an expert community.
Public Zotero Bibliography
Feel free to add references I may have missed. Not filtered for quality. This is meant to be an open list of scholarly publications directly relating to self-tracking theory and practice.
Here are links to some of the more interesting assignments and stories I’ve had a chance to work on.
NY Times Magazine cover story that helped accelerate the QS movement.
Want to remember everything you’ll ever learn?
I discovered Supermemo and the techniques of spaced repetition during a 9 month fellowship during which I wanted to learn Spanish quickly. Its inventor, Piotr Wozniak, became a friend for life.
Why Craigslist Is Such a Mess
The only profile ever published of the relatively introverted CEO Jim Buckmaster, who designed Craigslist’s extremely unconventional approach to running an essential public utility.
A Simple Plan to ID Every Creature on Earth.
Two obsessed entomologists, a generation apart, transforming the way we encounter nature, and making academic taxonomists very irritated.
The church of the non-believers.
Introducing “new atheism” in a way that satisfied nobody. I still get upset mail about it a decade later.
The great library of Amazonia
Brewster Kahle, the Internet Archive, and Jeff Bezos’ plan to digitize libraries full of old books.
Exploring the Unmaterial World
Profile of Rem Koolhaas and the “generous cruelty” of his realism.
The curse of Xanadu
An unreasonably detailed account of the longest running vaporware project in the history of computing. Fittingly, the longest story Wired ever published.
Spaced Repetition and Memory
The Memory Algorithm
How Piotr Wozniak operationalized a century-old scientific discovery and brought the techniques of spaced repetition into modern use. Below are links to two fascinating talks by Steven Jonas about unusual applications of spaced repetition in daily life.
- Memorizing “Trivial” Information: Using Geographical Facts As a Lattice For Knowledge.
- Memorizing My Daybook: Trying to Create Explicit Knowledge of Every Calendar Day
Mushrooms and gold. Among the most and the least perishable commodities. And yet, subject to strangely similar booms and busts. Over the years I’ve written two long stories about the remarkable mushroom hunters and gold prospectors Cathy Wood and Shawn Ryan, which, if current speculations bear out, will someday be a book, movie, and a dubious but irresistible .eth domain.
- Background to my reporting on the gold discoveries in the Yukon Territory.
- From the New York Times: Magic Mushrooms and Gold Mania in the Yukon.
- Can we feel good and bad at the same time? A guide to the “bi-polarity controversy.”
- John Cousins on Word Completion.
This QS Show&Tell talk illustrates how to use a daily word completion test as a mood tracking instrument.
“Free-Living Humans Cross Cardiovascular Disease Risk Categories Due to Daily Rhythms in Cholesterol and Triglycerides.” Journal of Circadian Rhythms 17 (2019).
“Approaches to Governance of Participant-Led Research: A Qualitative Case Study.” BMJ Open 9, no. 4
“Single Subject (N-of-1) Research Design, Data Processing, and Personal Science.” Methods of Informatics in Medicine, 56, no. 06
“The Quantified Self: Reverse Engineering.” Biosensing Technologies in Everyday Life, 2016, 67–72