• Gabriella Garcia

QuantHumanists week 4: staying on track, stuck in the mud

Updated: Mar 6, 2019

This week's task is a familiar one for me, in that it required us to start a habit of self-tracking using Joey's Data Selfie App as a template. I feel like 75% of my posts this semester has been about my long-cultivated habit of self-tracking/assessment, generally done through my gratitude journaling (now with morning mood checkin) with some additional techniques I pull out for low points in life. Honestly I don't even "think" about checking in anymore... the journal sits next to my bed and start each day with the practice.

Considering questions toward the rest of the semester

Given the preexisting habit, I'm challenging myself toward creating a new path of observation. Sleep tracking/hacking would be a sincerely practical exercise for this class, as it would directly address a regular difficulty that affects my daily life. It would be especially challenging to design a regular/testable habit given the deviation of a grad school schedule and obligations that can truly off-track any sort of attempt at consistency. I've also thought about tracking my stretch/alignment practice as I am taking ballet for credit and it would have a measurable outcome over the course of the semester. Tracking a daily language practice would also be useful, since I fall in and out of the habit and really want to create a reliable routine there.

My biggest mental stall manifests in considering the subjectivity of measuring... how do I correlate the data to something meaningful? How do I know if I'm truly more "grateful/resilient/optimistic" because I journal each day? How do I know if my sleep troubles were caused by too much caffeine or by reading my kindle in bed or by spending too much time on twitter or by living on a busy street in Brooklyn? Maybe I can measure the achievement of a regular language practice against how long I can hold conversation before falling off into embarrassment, I can measure flexibility/alignment with sensors and my teacher's help.. (apologies for the rambling, I am definitely "blogging out loud" at the moment, with a twist of frustration..).. there's a lot to consider.

Technical difficulties

For all the experience I have in the theoretical portion of the class, I have an equal and opposite ineptitude in the technical/coding side. It is... paralyzing. But I'm still going for it and doubling down on the extra help as of this coming week.

The Data Selfie app linked above was giving me trouble from the outset, despite cloning the original code for the assignment. For some reason it would not log anything and after reviewing it with a full-stack friend the problem seems to be in one of the p5 libraries needing permission (either the image capture needing audio permission or the geolocation needing location tracking permission, still can't figure it out). My friend walked me though a workaround, basically creating an html object that is called in the sketch to capture the image, and by giving the longitude and latitude default values. The code as it stands still only produces the default values so I'm not sure what's broken there. I'm looking forward to developing a more intuitive approach of knowing where to look when things break!

I did however get through the full Express app tutorial which felt like a victory. I hit a wall at some point when the ellipses weren't logging or deleting.. after a few hours of "wtf" and looking at my code line by line, it turns out (I think) that my database file was corrupted somewhere in the building process. I just deleted it and hard-refreshed everything and yay it all works now! This all feels like a beginning though. I am struggling to understand the syntax of writing input code as it wasn't really part of our ICM syllabus, and it's doubly challenging when trying to learn how to communicate with a backend and design for a response. This is where I need help before I can even hope to meet the requirements of this class, which needless to say is driving me toward panic. I have hours with Rushali tomorrow and Joey on Wednesday which will hopefully get me on track. I just want to get through this wall!! I feel like once I have these connections explained to me I can finally actually experiment with the technical design part, but in the mean time I'm stuck in the mud.


Office hours with Rushali *finally* gave me a basic fundamental understanding of designing for api communication!!! Here's the thing.. without a clear example of where I was supposed to start with the code, I didn't even have the capacity to search for help. Rushali walked me through the basics... starting with the html input, figuring out how to send the input values from the frontend to the api, and then displaying the results of those values on the frontend of the "logs" page. I really just needed one example to thread me through the process, and I've been able to hobble along with adding another "radio" input element to select the status of the sky. Also I changed it to pink đź’—

It's definitely as basic as it gets, but now I at least know where to start breaking things to explore further and define the questions I have. Looking forward to finally making things happen.

© 2020 Gabriella Garcia