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How do we remember events and moments in our life? How can we provide a way for people to remember how they felt during a period of their life?

Motivational Video


At this point my proposal is some form of interactive timeline. I will focus on presentation and not worry about entering data into the system.


  • Inclusion of multiple media types. Seeing pictures and text together will be difficult to integrate.
  • Overlapping time frames. You can easily ask question about days, months, years. These time frames overlap. How to present this?
  • Scale of events. People have a lot of events in their life. How to see all of them?



  • Nov 14: Brainstorm designs and focus on 1 or 2. Decide on technology used.
  • Nov 18: Interface data with presentation.
  • Nov 28: Code.
  • Dec 1: Final touches and Presentation


Personal Timelines



nmarrocc wrote:

sounds like a hard problem. for me i already have a journal with just text and pictures. but i dont have any labels or anything, its just text. id imagine a good way to do the input is to force people to write their text into boxes that then apply a tag to the text so your program can know what they are writing about.

aallison wrote:

How could people annotate this timeline to make it interesting? Should it be a private timeline? or something that people would want to publish to their friends? (Here is where we got a new cat, here is a photo of our family with the cat, etc)

fxchen wrote:

I think scoping the project is the most difficult. Could I suggest using personal photos as a source? I don't put a lot of photos on Facebook, opting instead to send them to friends, and I realized it would be cool to annotate these photos easily and perhaps have a way to export these annotations + photos.

codeb87 wrote:

I think the motivation is cool, but I'm not as clear as to what this thing will look like. I also am curious as to how the data will be entered.. especially for things like happiness, etc. One thing that might be cool is to set up a data-gathering service that emails your users at regular intervals asking them to fill out a survey / rate their happiness. I think that your users will require encouragement to enter personal reflections, because often we don't go to the internet to do that.

aallison wrote:


zdevito wrote:

I agree with Jeff: to get a good idea of the domain you will need real data. Trying to use fake data would not uncover the real issues: what if a bunch of events happen in a short time frame (e.g. graduation), how will they fit on the timeline? If you make up data then these issues simply would not arise.

akothari wrote:

Using your personal photos over the years will be a great source, and visualizing that would be pretty strong. it'll tie in well to the video you started off with, which in some ways was snippets of your life.

rmnoon wrote:

This really seems like the intersection of technology, art, and poetry. In your presentation, do you have specific strategies for prying into people's emotions and getting them to self-examine while using your app?

jqle09 wrote:

I'd like to see how your data is setup as well. I'd really like something like this to help me remember people I've lost contact with.

mikelind wrote:

I would love see something like this. It sounds like a complicated problem in several areas, but I wonder if there is some way of catching the experiences that one might not easily pick out as memorable moments. I think one of the interesting thing about the inspirational video you showed is how much the moments seem like things that I wouldn't really have written in a diary or on my own personal timeline at the time. One of the most notable to me was the quick clip of someone licking an ice cream cone. It seems so trivial on a day to day basis, but often these trivialities are some of the most vivid memories when we can somehow dredge them up.

rnarayan wrote:

Good collection of links. As mentioned in the other related project, being able to estimate causality for events and occurences could be useful, although it may be an inexact science.

Another interesting element could be to discern periodicity and recurrance of events. For this and also to be able to handle scale, a spiral timeline representation is investigated in this paper - see Visualizing time series on spirals - Weber

vagrant wrote:

It sounded like you were still in the contemplative phase of planning out your design. I do think that it's an interesting idea to focus on the presentation rather than the substantive data retrieval aspect of the problem.

Is your goal to have the presentation play or animate in some way like the motivational video you showed? This sounds like it could be quite challenging, from the perspective of selectiveness involved to produce something like that. Will your data assume that people only input data that is significant into their journals/diaries/etc.? I ask this, because it seems that the majority of Facebook would argue otherwise. ^_-

wchoi25 wrote:

Sounds like a challenging and exciting problem. I have no clue about visualizing how people felt during a period of time. Eliciting the same emotional response with pictures or words of the time is probably the best, but how to best extract those and show to the users is an open question. I wonder if you will allow user inputs that can perhaps filter by certain person or people.

anuraag wrote:

I'm interested in the challenge you mentioned in your presentation of dealing with mismatches in temporal density. It seems like it would be a common case that someone might, for instance, have hundreds of photos from a two week vacation, but then not have any for months at a time. It seems like in sharing media from past life events with friends, we naturally tend to construct a cohesive narrative to connect the dots, rather than relaying a list of disjoint memories. We tend to smooth the differences in temporal density when telling a story, by embellishing where there are gaps in memory and by abstracting from dense data to broad themes when there are too many specific memories for a limited period of time. It's this aspect of story-telling that it seems to me your timeline must capture. Are there ways you might study how people tell stories of their own life events to friends ,and then use what you learn about that interpersonal sharing to better engage in personal reflection? How do we construct cohesive narratives for personal reflection, and is it the same process we use for constructing the narratives we tell our friends?

dmac wrote:

Like you, my partner and I focused on presentation rather than a particular data set for assignment 3. While it worked out alright, we spent quite a bit of time on the very last day trying to find data that would work well with what we had built (TreeClimber). Your idea sounds great, and I think you'll be able to manage just fine, but I just wanted to say that sometimes finding appropriate data once you've built your application can be tricky!

malee wrote:

i went and read your initial proposal, and when i read the part about visualizing a couple's relationship, i thought of this link: . like the facebook bytes group, i would definitely love to use this viz, and the project seems difficult because of the initial problem of getting the data into a usable state.

jieun5 wrote:

I love your motivation, and it seems quite a challenge to create a visualization that tickles those special moments. You probably would want to focus on a specific input data source, such as a blog. For instance, a lot of my happy moments have to do with cooking and baking for a social gathering. Although I don't keep a blog myself, I know that many people make a photo blog of their cooking/ baking procedures, ending with the final picture and comments on sharing the result with friends and families. I believe this kind of thing would serve as an excellent source of input to your project.

vad wrote:

This is a very fertile data field. You can really go wild and create some amazing visualizations. It’s this kind of projects that make me wish that I kept a blog or something similar. Still, I wish you the best of luck and really look forward to seeing what you produce.

nornaun wrote:

This sounds like and art project at the same time. :)

I believe presentation, especially background color and color themes, can play a crucial role in your visualization. May be use color code to represent the mood or season of the time the log was recorded. If your focus is to bring back memory, how about adding sound as well? I know that it is not pure "visual"ization but it is an interesting realm to explore.

cabryant wrote:

Your inspirational video was quite . . . inspiring. I think what captivated me most was the fact that the events were not of my own life, but that of others. It might be interesting to consider visualizations that compare and contrast periods for groups of people (e.g. a visualization of college years using data from yourself and your roommate). Also, in the vein of the inspirational piece, I think a video mode that combines images and songs that the user has designated as relevant for specific periods of their life would be quite engaging.

tessaro wrote:

I think that specificity of your data set will define a convincing or unconvincing visualization. Other projects that are attempting to dip into online repositories are treating the data as something that already contains but is unintentionally hiding the kind meaning that could drive memories or reflection. It seems to me that without establishing that source it makes the problem both easier and harder. Easier because you are not dealing with the technical challenges of access and aggregation but also harder because the demo that you set up are in a sense canned for your particular hand picked data which makes its utility as a general tool difficult to judge. It may end up appearing like one of those nature documentaries where they filmmakers place the rabbit in front of the fox in order to provoke a chase scene they can film. I think it would wonderful if your memory provoking strategy would work on anyone's stuff so that it doesn't feel like the rabbit was planted as it were.

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