After thinking a lot about this idea of “Technological Heirlooms” I decided to a series of prototypes and iterations based off of my research. I began with the conceptual object which I am calling, for now, iMemoir. This prototype is directly based off of the iChat 3ft x 10ft poster I made at the beginning of the semester.
I decided that I wanted to explore the context of these iChat conversations when placed in a more traditional “book” format. Because of the extreme amount of content, this book would essentially be around 8,000 pages. This massive amount of content could be displayed as volumes in a series, exploring my relationships with people though our online interactions.
I made several initial sketches of this prototype idea:
From here I wanted to create some more substantial iterations of this to get a sense of what reading this might feel like. I began by laying out the content in inDesign, page by page. Laying out these conversations is a very tedious and time consuming process, in order to insure that all the content is laid out in a clear format. Current there are several columns: sender, receiver, date, time, and chat. Because certain content varies in length, I need to go through the document page by page to make sure that everything is aligned nicely. In a span of 2 hours I was able to lay out the first 100 pages.
I printed this out on 8.5 x 11 paper to get a feel of what this object might look physically. A pdf verison of it can be seen below. The first thing I noticed was that the 12pt font might be slightly large. In addition, I am also going to explore with using different book sizes. This should be easy enough to prototype, and I wouldn’t make 100 pages of each version, just a few. After showing the paper version to Cynthia, she suggested that I think about how I want the content to be laid out. She felt that the repetition of the person’s name and date were unnecessary, and I might want to consider only showing them at the beginning of each conversation. Something to think about, something to test!
In addition to the paper version, I made a flash applet that simulates turning pages in a book. This is another quick and easy way to explore different layouts and paper sizes. It can be seen here.
While laying these pages out, I was able to read through the content of the conversations. There must have been almost 50 pages of conversations between a good friend and I that have happened over the past 5 years. Reading through the conversations gave me an immense feeling of nostalgia as I relieved the moments that we were chatting about. During one conversation we were talking about how excited we were for an upcoming music concert. As I was reading that I realized that I have photographs from that night. It gave me the idea of perhaps creating a hyper-linked version of these chats, that connects the conversations to pictures, movies, websites, really anything that is related to the conversation. What this could potentially come is a web based narrative. As a basic prototype for this, I copied all of the iChat conversations and placed them into an html document. The content is not yet linked, but it is there in its entirety. It can be seen here.