It’s been a little while since the last noticeable change to the Crickles Navigator. From the feedback we get it seems that people find the Fitness and Fatigue functions to be particularly useful, and truer to actual feelings of fitness and fatigue than the alternatives on Strava and elsewhere. This supports our belief that the Cardiac Stress Score (CSS) is a decent functional measure of the cardiac stress incurred during exercise.

There are a number of changes that I’d like to make in 2019. First, I plan to update the analysis of data from the Crickles survey. Last time I checked there were suggestive relationships between reported cardiac health and CSS-based measures on Crickles. Now that we have materially more responses, I’m curious to see whether these relationships attain a level of robust statistical significance.

As well as new features such as user-configured alerts, I’d also like to strengthen the Crickles technical platform. This requires a little more investment. To fund it, I’ve explored a number of collaborations with other health and fitness products to see whether the Crickles analytics could add value to them and generate enough income for our own improvements. In every virtually case I have so far found that these other products do not respect user data in anything like the way that Mark and I require and so collaboration is impossible.

One consequence of what seems to me to be widescale abuse of user data is that Strava themselves, whether on principle or in the light of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, have tightened up app access to Strava data. Last year they removed the ability for an app to identify a user’s Strava followers/friends. This meant that thereafter Crickles was unable to offer group selection based on your current Strava friends. This is sad but we can’t blame Strava: other apps were, to my knowledge, chaining through users through their follower relationships to trawl data without appropriate consents. At the start of this year, Strava removed the ability for apps to access users’ email addresses. This makes the Crickles sign-up process more difficult, but, again, Strava really had to do that to avoid inappropriate data harvesting by unscrupulous apps. (It also meant more work for me that I didn’t want to do!) Later this year, Strava will be removing permanent data access and require periodic re-authorisation and, more harmfully for Crickles, remove all access to users’ private activities. I’ll write more on this last point in due course.

This is all frustrating but it’s the reality of the current social network landscape. Most applications base their business on non-transparent forms of “social listening”: offering functionality as a lure to gain personal user data that can be re-sold to advertisers. Crickles will never do this. What we may instead do is offer a premium tier and levy a modest charge for it. I have mixed feelings about this but it would help me cover my costs and fund the improvements to Crickles that we’d like to make. A premium service may include, for example, analysis of more/all of your activity history; email and/or text alerts; personalised reports; and new/advanced analytics.

Meanwhile, we’ll continue to support Crickles as it is now and occasionally add new features, as we have been doing. Also, I’ll report back on the findings from the survey when they’re in.

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One thought on “Crickles (and privacy) in 2019

  1. Interesting- tricky world out there and all is not as straightforward as it seems. I find Crickles useful and it’s one of a spectrum of resources I use to assess my activities. I certainly do find it a closer reflection of how I feel (fatigue in fitfat) than many. The fitness doesn’t seem to reflect how I feel so well. May be just me.
    I certainly wouldn’t object to a small fee for premium content. I wouldn’t want to put off new users though. I’ve recommended Crickles to a number of people- some I know have taken up it use and find it valuable. Some, I think, find the idea of another app to much faff. I guess the more people join the bigger the data set the better?

    Best of luck,
    Nick

    Like

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