The Unbearable Whiteness of Being
Sorry I’ve been away from the blog for so long, folks. I’ve been driving cross country from Cambridge to Seattle. It was a wonderful, amazing trip which I will write more about in subsequent posts. In the meantime I wanted to share three videos, stolen from three friends. I’ll show the videos first, and then talk about relevance. (Many thanks to the friends I’ve looted.)
1. Ratatat has a new album coming out. T, has been feeding me links to leaked songs (and this video) and the album promises to be awesome. Much less dance-able (to the dismay of the young-uns) but clever and infectious as usual. Here’s a video to their song, Mirando, made from snippets of the movie Predator:
2. Allen showed me this amazing video for REM’s song Imitation of Life. The video is built out of single 30 second clip that’s played forwards and backwards, but zoomed into to provide a continuous song crafted from moments and reversals:
3. Last but not least, Eva, a former co-worker, recently posted this video about manipulating video via objects in that video. The video is quite beautiful and the source (which I had delicious’ed earlier) is a little more academic, but continues bringing home the bacon.
So the connection between these three videos is that one of my current assignments is to think about time-based interfaces. Specifically timelines and calendars. But, we’d like those interfaces to feel more like the “infinite canvas” (the pan and zoom demo in my last post). Something elegant and intuitive. So I’ve been looking at interfaces with some notion of time represented in them; time represent linearly, time represented circularly, time as discreet moments, and time as a continuum. Success would be to make something that’s easier to use than a calendar, and more powerful, a task that many many applications have taken on.
I remember the first time many years ago when I was working for AMNH that I had to write some php scripts to parse through old ANWR temperature data and build a website with a calendar. It sucked. Months have different lengths. Years can have different number of days. And when you get beyond that, weekends and holidays (although they’re just days, too) are qualitatively different than other days. What I mean to say is that from our Roman calendar to Christian holidays to “American” work week our experience of time is very dependent on soft culture. It would be great to have something malleable to help me manage my experience of time.
So here are the nice-to-haves of a new calendar app:
1.See multiple timelines simultaneously. This includes one’s own paths, as well as timelines of friends, family, and co-workers (your entire– and I hate this phrase– social network).
2. Attach tags, data, descriptions or any sort of media to a piece of time. And be able to reorganize and share those blocks.
3. Shift between views based on task. If I’m in a “to do” sort of mood (i.e. at work), then show my calendar prioritized accordingly.
Right now, I’ve got this vision of colored ribbons in space, like the Ace Combat dogfight replay.