MAS.961 | Spring 2008 | Graduate

Special Topics: Designing Sociable Media


Assignment 4: Design Problem 2 - Personal Time-line

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Robinson, John P., and Geoffrey Godbey. “Measuring How People Spend Time.” Chapter 4 in Time for Life: The Surprising Ways Americans Use Their Time. 2nd ed. University Park, PA: Penn State Press, 1999. ISBN: 9780271019703. [Preview in Google Books]

Aveni, Anthony. “The Basic Rhythms,” “The Western Calendar,” and “Building on the Basic Rhythms.” Chapters 1, 3, and 10 in Empires of Time: Calendars, Clocks, and Culture. Revised ed. Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado, 2002. ISBN: 9780870816727. [Preview in Google Books]

Yannick has compiled an extensive collection of personal timeline projects, including:


  1. Take 2 photographs that each depict a object or scene that shows the traces of time. This can be a tree stump with rings, a house with peeling paint, layers of rock on a cliffside, etc. Write a short paragraph describing how the images you have found depict time. Is it a single episode in history (e.g. a scar), a long term pattern (e.g tree rings)? What can you read into it?

  2. Personal diary. Keep track of what you do for a 6 hour stretch. Here the goal is not a scientific study of time usage (you may edit out anything you wish) but more an exploration into the question of what it met means to be doing something as time passes and how to represent this. 

    Robinson and Godbey’s chapter lists a number of distinct tasks - but are you perhaps doing many at once? Do you care more about what you were thinking about than what you were doing? a “task” like going out to dinner - minute by minute there are the differnt foods eaten; there are the accompanying social events, etc. Your task is to edit the potentially infinite set of things that you are doing in that 6 hour time and find a way to present it visually. 

    Pay attention to the stucture you use. Are you thinking of linear time, stretching along a time line? Or is there something cyclical here, a rhythmic repetition? For instance, the hour hand on the clock makes 6 cycles in this time… 

    Think about psychological vs. clock time. Does all the time seem to pass at the same rate?

Student Work

Seth Hunter

Sohin Hwang

Lana Swartz

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Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2008
Learning Resource Types
Problem Sets with Solutions
Projects with Examples