11/2 Week Project: Time through Things

Ethan Reed

Posted on 02 Nov 2015

Here’s my plan for this week. Our goal is, generally speaking, to think about how we value and structure time experientially. We’re all tracking, monitoring, altering, playing with, or experimenting with lived time in one way or another. In keeping with the kinds of things I’ve been posting about for a month now, I personally want to see time passing through the use of things.

To do this, my plan is as follows: anything I use, I write down what it is. In order, from when I wake up til when I go to bed. I will not keep track of what time of day I use something. My notes will just be a list: each line is an entry, and each entry is a thing. No repeats - I won’t put anything down twice. This means that if I interact with my laptop twenty separate times in a given day, it will only appear when I used it first. And there are plenty of things I won’t be able to keep track of, like what I did using the laptop - other stuff that might feel like a thing (like a website or application).

I imagine there will be quite a bit of repetition from one day to the next in the seven days I’ll do this for.

Where I would go with it and why I think it’s interesting:

  1. This list is a kind of timeline, but one that does not care about duration and does not care about frequency. If I use something for four hours vs. four seconds, both get the same kind of entry: one line. If I use something thirty times, again: one line. A timeline that does not care about hours, minutes, seconds, or numbers of events - what kind of timeline, or chronology, is this?

  2. At some point I’d like to think about the “cost” that has gone into the objects I use. Even just trying to outline it in my head here, this gets very prickly very quickly (‘cost’ can mean so many different things), but I think this could lend to some interesting facets to something like visualizations later on.

  3. Speaking of visualizations, finding ways to visualize this other than in its chronological list form. A web with nodes and edges feels appropriate if I were to track repeated uses of things (then getting clusters of use), so I’m wondering what sorts of things I might be able to turn this into.

That’s all for now - if I have more ideas or need to change something (i.e., I get through tomorrow and realize I really should be taking at least frequency into account), I’ll write about it.