I’ve noticed in several apps and sites lately that the way they organize content based on date metadata ends up being pretty convenient. What these apps have in common is that you can interact with any given type of content said apps are specialized in based on when that interaction happened, not other common properties such as file name or extension. In other words these apps are not a calendar, but they’re looking like one, which I find interesting just like an outliner as a separate app isn’t terribly valuable to me, but I do love outliners within apps as a way to organize the UI.
I think the temporal axis maps well with how the brain works, and if well done, it allows for some fuzziness. Sometimes you may not remember a file’s name or location, but you know for sure you worked on it on Monday last week, or maybe just sometime last month. Examples:
- Nemo Documents maps files “into a calendar-like view that you are used to from Outlook or Google Calendar.”
- Better History gives you a calendar-ish few of your Chrome browse/download history
- SnagIt’s library does something similar with its screen captures
- Trakt.tv keeps track of when you’ve seen TV shows and movies.
- Google Maps’ Your Timeline combines temporal and geographical data. Very worrying for privacy reasons, but otherwise amazing.
- Facebook’s Timeline.
- News Windows 10 feature coming with the Fall 2017 Creator’s Update called… Timeline. And with the April 2018 update: With Timeline and Your Phone, Microsoft makes a PC the phone’s second screen.
Now that I’m middle aged I find that my memory is not as laser sharp as it used to be. It’s still pretty good, but it’s more common that one property of a memory escapes me, just like when you recognize an actor’s face and can name 10 movies you’ve seen him in, but can’t recall his name.
Apps that let you map your use against time allow us to be human as opposed to have to think so rigidly like a computer. I’m not saying this is a novel design pattern, and I may be noticing it more just by happenstance or because it’s becoming more useful to me, but I know I like it and hope to see this become more common.