Data vs. Information, and my FitBit Flex

Data is a set of values.

Information is that which informs.

Both definitions are the start of the wikipedia.com articles on these words.  I could use definitions from many sources and decided this was enough to get me going on the topic.

Every day we are bombarded with both data and information.  Some of it we take in, and some of it we ignore.   Some we try to take in, and understand, and assimilate the data into consumable information in order to take actions.  At times, okay many times, it becomes too much.

And let’s be real, there’s a lot of data floating around us all day that we tend to ignore either because it’s not relevant to us or because there’s so much going on all the time.  If you stand in line at a coffee shop, you could take in how many people order coffee vs. tea or how many people order food with their coffee, but unless you are a coffee store owner or a data scientist who’s just curious, you probably don’t take this in.  You could notice as you stand on a busy street corner how many people cross the street against the light, how many cross only when the signs say it’s safe to walk, and how many people approach the corner as the light is about to change and make a run for it.  You probably don’t notice this, however, unless you are someone working to adjust the traffic lights for maximum efficiency or you are someone like me who finds this specific human decision making moment interesting. (The girl geek in me comes out in odd ways, I know!)

These days we have many technical gadgets in our lives that take in data and provide us information.  Wearable technology is becoming more and more available.  About 5 years ago, this term was not a part of our everyday vocabulary and yet it is now trendy, can be inspirational, and at times visually appealing.

My FitBit Flex is a wearable technology device.  It tracks data including my steps, my sleep habits, and the number of hours I have been active.  I love to see this data fed back to me as information.  The charts, the stars when I’ve achieved my set goal for the day, and the little bubbles that show how I am progressing during the day before I have hit the goal are all aspects of information that personally enhance my day in some small way.

My FitBit Flex also asks me to enter other data so it can provide me a more holistic view of my day – the type of exercise I’ve done and for how long, the amount of water I’ve consumed, and the calories I’ve eaten.  I tried each of these features for a few weeks and then I stopped.  While the data itself was interesting to me, the information it provided as it was put together was not.  I wasn’t getting any thrill out of seeing the charts for these three features, and I wasn’t changing any of my behaviour as a result of the information my APP showed me after entering this data.

Wearable technology is no different than other technology items we purchase.  We need to think about how we will use them and select the product that provides all of that.  Additional features should be considered as you may find some you never thought about but will enjoy, and others you don’t need and also won’t really use.

If you have a Fitbit Flex, I hope you are enjoying it as much as I am.  I’ve worn it every day for over a year and can honestly say my number of steps per day has increased with this wearable technology helping to prompt me in a positive way.  Of course, the picture I shared from my APP shows one of my best weeks so you can feel inspired too.

Walk on girl geek, and enjoy!

Fitbit flex tracker

1 Comment

  1. John says: Reply

    Will my Fitbit device count stairs for treadmills and other exercise equipment?

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