RobWeychert.com V7

Timeline section inventory

Untangling the content

Progress on the redesign has slowed, partly because I’ve been busy with other things, and partly because, frankly, the open questions about the timeline section enumerated in my previous post are an intimidating mess, a perfect example of the early stages of the Design Squiggle.

The Design Squiggle, by Damien Newman

In a fight or flight situation like this, here are the arguments for flight:

They’re fair points. I’ll need to be careful not to get so bogged down in the timeline’s minutia that it jeopardizes the timely rollout of the projects section, which is more important. It’s also worth considering whether the timeline is more of an accumulation than a collection. I think of something Yoko Ono said:

Unclog your mind. Unclog your room. Arrange your room in a way you wish your mind would be.

In the physical world, I do periodic purges of inessential objects to keep things manageable and focused. However, I have a persistent belief that the timeline concept is more than the overwrought sum of its sprawling parts, something I’ve expressed before with regard to Twitter:

I’m more interested in Twitter as an archive, as a collection of bite-sized dispatches from events in our lives that run the gamut from mundane to sublime, which can be recombined in various ways to tell a uniquely affecting story.

So for now I’ll choose fight over flight, and my first move is to take inventory of the timeline’s content sources and the various shapes they take. The only thing every timeline node has in common is a date. Otherwise, these are the categories I’ve settled on for the data in play:

Below are the content sources and how data categories map to them, in descending order of volume, as of February 9, 2020:

Content source Active? Entries Always includes Sometimes includes Notes
Twitter yes 8,372
  • short text
  • image(s)
  • video
  • seriality
  • Amount includes unknown number of retweets, which will be omitted
  • Some primary content is cross-posted from other timeline sources
Letterboxd yes 1,225
  • title
  • metadata
  • short text
  • long text
  • rating
  • Metadata includes location, format, and more, in the form of unclassified tags
Flickr no 1,188
  • title
  • short text
  • long text
  • image
  • video
  • metadata
  • seriality
  • Some primary content is cross-posted from other timeline sources
RobWeychert.com yes 543
  • metadata
  • title
  • description
  • short text
  • long text
  • image(s)
  • video(s)
  • seriality
  • Metadata includes topic tags
  • Some entries which V6 collects in digests (like Daily Haiku) will be broken out into individual entries. Other entries (like Consumption) may have to remain digested because their original entry dates are lost.
Tinnitus Tracker yes 427
  • title
  • metadata
  • short text
  • long text
  • image(s)
  • video(s)
  • Metadata includes classified tags: genre(s), artist(s), venue, city, state
  • Some primary content is cross-posted from other timeline sources
Instagram yes 184
  • short text
  • image(s)
  • video(s)
  • Some primary content is cross-posted from other timeline sources
  • My previous Instagram account (2010–2012) was deleted but may be able to be reconstructed from cross-posts
Dribbble no 42
  • title
  • image
  • metadata
  • short text
  • seriality
  • Metadata includes various unclassified tags
29 more miscellaneous sources mostly no 106
  • title
  • metadata
  • description
  • short text
  • long text
  • image(s)
  • video(s)
  • rating
  • seriality
  • Metadata includes topic tags

This inventory will hopefully help me work through the UX/UI implications of the timeline, which I’ll do next with some sketches and mockups.

Other updates

This post prompted me to add a little CSS to keep image sizes in check, as well as some simple table borders, because most browsers’ default table styles are not very useful:

img,
svg {
  display: block;
  max-width: 100%;
}

table,
th,
td {
  border: 1px solid black;
}

I also replaced the reverse-chronological “Most recent blog posts” at the bottom of each post with previous/next navigation, and took a page out of Frank Chimero’s book by making the blog landing page a chronological table of contents.