Last November, I had the pleasure of spending a few hours with the illustrious Ted Nelson, as he described his work on Xanadu and ZigZag. Along with his original concept of hypertext, Ted described his notion of hypertime - the ability to navigate information using time-based vectors...leaping around in time in the same manner that we jump between web pages...Ted had the label for a concept I'd be thinking about for some time...
Ian, myself and the Special Projects Officer for Bradford Council recently speculated on creating a civic photo archive, like Leodis, that would allow residents to share their personal photos, creating a collaborative history of the City. If images were tagged with location and time, we hoped to create an application that would enable users to quickly 'pan' through all the photos taken at a particular place...City Hall seen through the eyes of its residents, over two centuries...maybe a little like the hokey timeline interface from Minority Report. Separately's Mark's Project Octave, an information client for music, will enable people to 'timeline' through their life's musical experiences, online, in bars, clubs and through their friends.
In the haunting Somewhere In Time, Christopher Reeve wills himself back through time to 1912, by immersing himself in artefacts of the time...perhaps, the explosion of personal media, metadata and their applications are gradually enabling us all to embark on similar journeys...coincidentally, whilst writing this post I realised that almost all my iPod playlists are organised into time periods (like Autumn 2002). I'm evidently trying to travel within my own lifetime, just like Sam Beckett :)
Stories that toy with time and memory, like Solaris and Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, show us that we are only really the sum total of our memories...it's easy to ridicule digital trends such as life-caching, photosharing and blogging as navel-gazing introspection, but as I watch my maternal grandfather gradually lose his own memories, I hope one day I can hypertime my children through his experiences in the North African Campaign, his memories of Partition and his poetry.