Monday, February 24, 2014

Tell Me Your Life Story, part 3

continued from part 2

It's up!

You can now publish only part of your life story, if you want. (chunks you leave out will show up as "private".) That's kind of neat. Adds a little mystery to it.

A little clunkier, more words, for better usability.

I hope it makes sense. I have no idea if it will. Also I have no idea if people will think this is in any way cool or makes them think.

I don't know that a website is a good medium for this. It feels too cheap. It's like an *application*, something that you have to do, to be more efficient or store some data or something. I think if I had to do it again, I might print it out as a deck of (large) laminated cards, and give it out (or sell it, in the far future...) with dry erase pens. As a small-party-game, or a Coffee Table Thing, it's kind of fun and personal; as a website, it's not.

Preliminary results with a few friends and a few Turkers: friends find it interesting but don't want to share much. I guess that's fine, as with so few users there is little anonymity. Turkers mostly tell the school-college-work story. Also reasonable, as they're (I'm assuming) mostly trying to make a few bucks.
A couple things people posted are neat:
"1 - 8: Don't remember, had a trampoline."
"15 - 25: I still wanted to be a singer, but Imade sure I got high grades and got accepted into a "good" college. I ended up dropping out many times."

Enough talk, try it out!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Tell Me Your Life Story part 2

continued from part 1
... partial implementation and further design.

I've been thinking a website from the start, just because it's the easiest way to make an interactive thing that people can use. But if I'm going website, then horizontal (the way I've drawn out life stories on paper) is not so good:
There's no way you can space everything out sort of equally and still leave room to type in each box. So I went vertical.
and you can sort of type stuff in here and save it; functional, not yet pretty. So now a couple of questions:
1. how should it look and feel?
2. what should it do when you're done?

For look and feel, it's got to be expansive and welcoming. This should be a space for people to creatively re-imagine their lives. I'm not going to tell them their re-imagination is wrong, or they'll retreat back into the boring school-school-work story. So none of this:
And none of this:
And nothing computery and cold, like I usually dig:
But I don't want it to be new-agey woo anything-goes; no pastel blues and greens and handwriting:
How about cartography? You're mapping your life. Map-making is a good analogy here: you have to take an expanse of time or space that exists, but the way you draw your map (even the projection you use) incorporates your current bias about it.
Plus, I like this aesthetic. I think the old-fashioned look makes it appear valuable. Still, it's not imposing to draw on old-fashioned paper.
shout out to ("rice paper 3") for the background.

For what it should do when you're done... well, I think if it just says "okay, thanks", that is not perhaps as provocative as it could be. There should be some way to display your story, I think, but it should also make you reflect on it.
"Is there anything you would change?"
"What did you learn from telling this story?"
"How do you feel about this story?"
"What happens in the next 5 years?"
(this is after you finish it; the 0-5, 5-8, etc would be filled in with whatever you entered)

Still to do: it would be neat to be able to compare this to some pre-existing milestones; maybe get your school/move/work dates in there too. Or maybe get common culturally-accepted milestones in there to compare your story to those.

A thing I've already learned from this: don't make websites for class projects. I spend more time debugging than I do thinking about the design or the overall experience of the thing.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Tell me your life story

A class project for Design Fiction.
The prompt: "Our formal critical selves" - do something looking at your past in a counterfactual kind of way. See how your life could have been if you had done something differently, or if something different had happened to you.
The timeframe: two weeks. (due the Tuesday after next)

Early thoughts:
1. All the time I've "wasted" throughout the years, and count up the hours I could have been doing something "productive", in this creepy totalitarian sense.

Then I could transform it into N masteries, just by dividing by 10,000! If I've slacked for 20,000 hours by now, I could be an expert in piano and chess. Easy as that. The humor comes from the fact that of course it is not as easy as that.

2. 23 and Me is weird. I have all this data about what risks for diseases I might have. I can't act on it at all. What does it mean that I have a 1.2% chance to get kidney disease? Should I eat more prunes?
I could make it a little more real by making a "wheel of Dan" where you spin a wheel and it tells you "okay, with this lifetime where you started with Dan's genes, you have Alzheimer's and gout." And then I could let you upload your 23 and Me data, and then spin your own wheel, and compare with me, and maybe ask you if you'd trade with me. Make it personal. And maybe compare these risks to other risks, like the odds of being struck by lightning. Whatever.

The downside is that very few people have done 23 and Me, so it's hard to make it actually personal.
Another downside: what am I trying to say? I think there are a lot of interesting things to say about 23 and me, but others say them better than I do, or else I don't really care about them.

3. Something about browser history or email relationships over time. Meh. Been done. I tried to mine all the neat personal data I have about myself, my sleep logs and fitbits and stuff, but I ended up with the same old personal-informatics gripe: what the hell is this data good for?

4. Life stories. I started looking for meaning in Flappy Bird, and then started looking at how people look for meaning in Flappy Bird, which is kind of funny because there is probably not that much meaning to find in Flappy Bird. But all the game developers want there to be some meaning in Flappy Bird, so they tell all kinds of stories, like "really polish a simple game mechanic and it'll shine" or "make sure you can restart quickly" or whatever.

We tell these stories about our lives.
"You may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?"
And most of the time, there's no real story, you just did.
I started looking at the story I tell myself. It was very broken up by where I lived and where I worked. New school, new job, new box in my life story. But
if you mix up those boxes, draw the lines really arbitrarily, you might hit some really more interesting stories. I drew a bunch of random boxes with arbitrary lines. The second box above is "what I liked at various ages", the fifth is "how I felt at various ages", and both are much more interesting than "where I worked."
I want to make a tool to help people retell their life story, but give them a little twist: let the system arbitrarily decide where the boundaries end.

Messing around with the flow here a little bit, or what happens after you tell your story.

More to come!