Enoch commented on my post about exercise tracking .. and .. well .. I ALMOST agree. For some people – "exergaming" may work. But for some reason — I am certain that it won't work for me. Despite some fascination with / addiction to Riven circa .. 1997 .. I've never had any interest in computer games. I TRIED to use the WII Fit – but it was too slow and too silly. For me – it's just easier & better to go run outside. I think the OUTSIDE part is important.

Ten years of blogging

Yep – this blog has been around for over ten years.

Here's a link to the Internet Archive for one of my first posts.  There were actually a few other iterations before this – but I can't find them.  The site was initially created with Manila – a tool based on Dave Winer's Userland Frontier.  A while later – a kid named Evan Williams and his team created a great tool called Pyra – which had a "daughter" product called "blogger."  You know the rest of the story.

What's interesting is that both tools provided a successful user experience that was LESS than the designers initially intended.  "edit this page" was a small part of Manila – but that is what worked.  "Blogger" was a tiny part of Pyra.  Evan has gone on to smaller things – and (surprise) .. that is yet another factor more successful than Blogging/blogger. 

What's the next decade have in store for us?  Smaller, simpler, yet more complex systems.  Yes – smaller (like twitter) and simpler (like the ipod) yet more complex (like the ipod).  John Maeda writes well about this paradox.  To the user – it needs to be simple.  Behind the scenes – it will be more complex – since the user's needs are understood and in fact anticipated.  So when I want to log my exercise, I should be able to use a device that I own (perhaps even something that comes with me!) … that will track my exercise for me – and report it for me – to all of the right places:  My insurance company, my physician .. my running coach? (if I had one) ..  sure! .. wherever I decide I want it to go.  Why not?  The technology here is easy.  

It's all about connecting

That's what the blogs were a decade ago:  A  handful of signposts – meant to help connect the dots. Now there are certainly more than a handful.   Yet (see my other post from today) .. there are far more examples of where we remain another decade away from thinking about these connections properly. 

Can an insurance company motivate people to exercise?


Short answer? Not very well.

 

My health insurance company has a program called "blue points" which is supposed to motivate me and my co-workers to exercise.  It’s a great idea – very poorly applied.  Yet another example of the "what " and the "how" being too far apart from each other.  

 

Senior Executive:  "Hey – let’s motivate people to exercise more – by giving them free stuff if they exercise – let’s develop a program that lets them log they activity.  When they log activities – we give them points .. and at the end of the year – they can cash in the points for free stuff." 

 

Development project manager: "OK .. we’ll make a website that they can use to log in and log their points"

 

But they missed the part where they think carefully about the user experience.  Primary goal: encourage exercise.  So we want to enable the application to capture the fact that exercise happened in a manner that is very easy for the end-user.  Core principle:  meet the user where they live – don’t make the user jump through too many hoops to achieve the goal.

 

I exercise often.  As often as I should?  No – but at least three days a week – and usually more.  In the past year – I ran two half-marathons, one full marathon, and several shorter races.  Training for all of this required that I run as much as 40 miles/week.  So I should have plenty of "blue points" – right?  well .. no – because I would rather spend my valuable time exercising rather than logging my exercise.

 

Let’s see what it takes to log exercise with Blue Points.

 

Log in to the Blue Cross website:

 

 

9:26  AM – find the Blue Points link:

 

 

9:27   .. ahh here it is .. 

 

 

Next screen … 

 

 

New window … logged in .. pick an activity .. 

 

 

9:28   … log my activity .. 

 

 

9:29  … type type .. click .. 

 

 

Check the log to make sure it was saved.

 

 

9:30.

 

Total time = 4 minutes.  Not much, you say?  What if I was exercising instead of sitting on my butt during these 4 minutes!

 

so .. five days a week (optimal case .. bear with me) .. exercise for 4 minutes  .. = 20 minutes of exercise.. for 50 weeks .. = ~ 15,000 calories I’d spend over a year .. if I didn’t have to navigate this maze of a website every time.

 

Is there an alternative?

 

Of course. I can think of a handful … But I won’t lead the witness. Click here and let me know what you think is a better way. I’ll add some of the best of our ideas to mine in a follow-up post. We’ll then see if we can get their attention and get this implemented. J ..