Training woes and wonderings
I recently purchased a heart rate meter to track my progress and motivate myself. Interestingly, I hit a strange glass wall when discussing it with some people - mostly either fitness experts or medically trained people: they said that these meters are worthless, because fitness is such a complex thing and cannot be reduced to something as trivial as how much your heart beats per second as you are climbing up the last few hundred meters to your home.
But what strikes me odd that there have been quite a few medical and fitness experts probably designing these things. Is their expertise worth nothing? Could they all be wrong, and sacrificing their professional integrity on the altar of enlightened self-interest?
And most importantly, I'm a geek. If I am motivated to train more because I can watch my progress in Excel sheets and someone - even a tiny wristwatch computer - prompts me to go out there and do something, is that a bad thing? Should I feel bad because I am now exercising more - just because I am motivated by a thing with blinkenlichts?
Is this another case of computers invading a profession, undermining the white towers that have been so carefully erected over the years? For all their promises of making life simpler, they're certainly making the life complex for some people: the entertainment industry is struggling hard to keep their scarcity-based business models as digital media eliminates scarcity. The march of broadband is threatening traditional telephony, and old-school journalists write disdaining articles about bloggers and participatory journalism. Wikipedia is constantly under attacks from the publishing industry, and harsh words are being exchanged over patents and copyright.
Is medical technology something that will see the next revolution in user-created content? Call it "user-assisted diagnostics", if you will. Some of my doctor friends have told of cases where the patient knows more about their disease than the doctor, because they've been reading all the material they can get their hands on off the internet. Some of them detest it, because the patient has no medical training and should therefore be not messing with things they do not understand. I can understand that attitude, doctors are, after all, a very conservative bunch, and they know of all the things that can go wrong if you're hasty.
But when more and more simplified medical technology reaches the common man, will we see another big boom? What will be the mouse and the World Wide Web of the medical technology? What will push through the barrier and make people discuss "parameters of the human body", much like they discuss which web site gives the best discounts on flight tickets? Does a person have a right to diagnose and treat himself in any way he pleases, even if it goes against the recommendations of doctors?
I really have no idea. But I know that there will be lots of resistance and debate when that happens. The internet might be something that happens to other people, but messing with my body is personal.
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