The Unbearable Whiteness of Being

Posted in art, movies, technology by johnsnavely on May 31, 2008

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.


8 Responses

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  1. son1 said, on June 2, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    John, I know we talked about it recently, but have you seen (with your own eyes) Ben Fry’s interactive genome visualizer? The one that lets you read genome sequence and annotation at three scales simultaneously and interactively?

  2. johnsnavely said, on June 2, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    Nope! You got a link somewheres?

    Did opencoursewares record the talk?

  3. son1 said, on June 4, 2008 at 7:51 pm

    I don’t believe the talk was recorded, sadly no.

    And I’ve done some cursory looking, but I can’t find any links online anywhere. I might search around some of the sites at the Broad, I think he did it for them.

    If not, I can just describe it for you.

    Also: I assume you’ve “procured” the entire Ratatat LP3 album by now, right?

  4. johnsnavely said, on June 5, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    Hellz yes, describe it. Or show me related pictures.

    I have not yet gotten the album “from my friends” but when I do, you will be the first that I regift it to.

  5. son1 said, on June 6, 2008 at 4:12 am

    No need to regift it — I am in possession. You want?

    I’ll work on a description.

  6. johnsnavely said, on June 11, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    Yes, I want. btw, it’s nice to see slackercraft have an active thread.

  7. son1 said, on June 12, 2008 at 8:31 pm

    Email me from your new email address? I assume you have one — or let me know which old address I should be using — and I’ll reply to that with a link to the zip file.

  8. […] I don’t know much about music at all. This style is a lot like those examples I showed in a previous post. Very thinly sliced […]

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