This Ephemeral Year
February 2, 2011
February 2, 2011
In 2010, I rebuilt my website. As is my way, I overloaded the project with too many technology changes, forcing me to learn tons of new stuff before I could do any real work. I also fell into the worst client trap of being perpetually unsatisfied with any design I produced. Nevertheless, I trudged on, and finally decided it was decent enough to launch in March.
One of the new features was the Ephemera section, which was rushed out the door at the last minute, but turned out to be the best addition to the site. The idea was to start tracking little memorable bits of my life — items that would otherwise be lost in time. I have a terrible memory, and I’m finding that my once-reliable Internet footprints are getting more and more fragmented across many different services. Back in the good old days, you could just read your email archives and remember everything that happened.
The Ephemera page does two things. First, it provides simple statistics about my various web activities. Second, it displays a record of my actual, physical life, which means that I’m required keep a minimal daily log of what happens. I had zero confidence that I could maintain even the most rudimentary task on a daily basis, so I kept it dead simple: a one-line text annotation, and a quantitative (0-10) ranking of the day in four categories: Mood, Workload, Sunlight, and Sleep.
So, what did I learn?
I’ve been dreaming about doing native/live data visualization on the web for years. The technology is finally coming around; there are numerous libraries and tools available that do in-browser charting, using either SVG or the <canvas> element to render the charts. I tried almost all of these and settled on Highcharts for this project, as it was the fastest way to get some decent output. I combined that with a healthy dose of CSS effects, and there you have it!
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