We all know that Stephen Wolfram, the guy who came up with Mathematica software and the Wolfram Alpha computational knowledge engine, is one really smart guy (he published his first physics paper at 18 and got a PhD in particle physics at 20).
But did you know that he's a bit obsessed by data? And by "data", we mean personal data like how many emails he has sent, how many keystroke he has ever typed, phone calls he's made, and even the number of steps he takes every day. And by "a bit," we actually mean a lot. Like decades-worth of data:
One day I’m sure everyone will routinely collect all sorts of data about themselves. But because I’ve been interested in data for a very long time, I started doing this long ago. I actually assumed lots of other people were doing it too, but apparently they were not. And so now I have what is probably one of the world’s largest collections of personal data.
Every day—in an effort at “self awareness”—I have automated systems send me a few emails about the day before. But even though I’ve been accumulating data for years—and always meant to analyze it—I’ve never actually gotten around to doing it. But with Mathematica and the automated data analysis capabilities we just released in Wolfram|Alpha Pro, I thought now would be a good time to finally try taking a look—and to use myself as an experimental subject for studying what one might call “personal analytics”.
Let’s start off talking about email. I have a complete archive of all my email going back to 1989—a year after Mathematica was released, and two years after I founded Wolfram Research. Here’s a plot with a dot showing the time of each of the third of a million emails I’ve sent since 1989:
That white band is when Stephen is asleep (he changed his sleeping pattern in 2002)