walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

Timeline/Social Media Aggregator musings

Towards the end of our recent Seattle visit, we got to hang out with my cousins S. We had a great dinner at Flying Squirrel in Maple Leaf, then went back to their house to hang out a bit more. S. (pere) had a question about Simile Timeline, and it took a while to understand what he wanted to do, and I didn't really understand Simile at all and really wasn't in the right headspace to figure it out right then. But his basic idea was pretty appealing: creating a personal timeline to help jog one's memory of what happened when. None of us want to turn into our parents, who were constantly unable to remember when important things happened. My dad, in particular, was always saying things happened a couple years ago when it was more like 15. (Actually, saying the Dutch equivalent probably _does_ cover 15 years ago, but in English, that is Just Wrong. But that's not what was going on. He did the usual middle-aged and older thing of failing to integrate the knowledge that subjective experience of time changes with age into his actual perception of the world and narrative description of his experience of it. Whatev.)

In general, I tend to shove projects like a personal timeline (which I have not done) onto my personal website, and just hand code it in HTML and accept that the resulting product will be heavily textual and very simply laid out. But he wanted something else, and I can see where Simile and other timeline projects are going: put the content (whether text, image, URL, etc.) into a spreadsheet and then have it rendered automagically in a nice, consistent way. However, I think that S. (pere) has maybe underestimated the degree of coding skill needed to use the Simile timeline widget(s). Like by a lot.

There are simpler spreadsheet driven timeline tools out there. But as I've been thinking about this, I find that I'd kind of like to use this as a layer on top of what I've already done. So: Flickr integration, maybe? LJ integration? I'm not sure. I could obviously hack all that in as hardcoded URLs, but ugh.

I'll have to think about this for a while. On the one hand, a broad outline of my whole life (extract the milestones from the baby book, enter which teacher I had for each year of elementary school, etc. all the way through college, first marriage, blah blah bleeping blah) would be kind of amazing and would require very little connectivity to other online data. On the other hand, that is sort of a breathtaking amount of work to contemplate. I think I have all the backing paperwork (and wow, talk about prepping for writing a boringly detailed memoir). And I must admit to feeling some trepidations from a privacy perspective.

The aging developer in me wants to just create an agnostic spreadsheet and dump all the data into it and then write middle layers to feed it into whatever product I pick later. The hacker in me is tempted to do the same thing, and generate the HTML to render it myself. The actual work I have done since retirement, however, indicates that I'm much more likely to shove it all into an ordered list in a hand coded HTML page (pages, really) and call it good enough.

Geez. My laptop has clang on it. *sigh* I think I'm probably suffering from a lot of socializing induced mania right at the moment.
Tags: daily activities
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