Time and Place Storytelling

Our individual and collective stories are best told, perceived, and understood by time and place. I’m currently developing a perceptual browser, or what I consider an understanding engine, TimeAndPlaceStories™, to automate storytelling (for what some call Web 3.0 or the Semantic Web) through dynamically linking time, place, and subject tag metadata.

(I describe the rationale for organizing digital media by time and place with metadata architecture, in the Knowledge Architecture and Development links to the left.)

To illustrate how stories (and perhaps more importantly, different stories) “self-tell” in simple linear arrays of data organized by time, place, and subject tags, I’ve assembled some photo galleries from our local farmers market in the links below.


Time, the first dimensionstorytelling-time

Time is the unalterable constant dimension of our lives. It is the primary organizing structure of our lives. We live our lives along a linear continuum of the time that we are given. Thus, time should be a primary dimension for the digital narration of our lives. Consider, for example, the narration revealed by simple linear arrays of data over time from visits to the Kalamazoo Farmers Market on Saturday mornings during the 2001 market season.


Patterns of Placestorytelling-place

The time we have and the places we go are the warp and weft of the fabric of our lives; the things we do in these temporal and spatial dimensions create patterns in our lives. Thus, place should be a secondary dimension for the digital narration of our lives. Consider, for example, the stories that could be told by arraying some of the same time data above, by place.


Information from tagsstorytelling-tag

We each experience a specific time in a specific place differently. Each of us has had our own prior experiences, interact with and respond to people, events, and environments in different ways, and remember experiences in different ways. Metadata tags describe subjects or experiences. The same data tagged by different people will reflect different points of view (known as folksonomies). Consider, for example, how the time and place data above might be tagged to yield different sets of information.

Knowledge from storiesstorytelling-story

Stories are told by simply arraying data by time, place, and tags. We learn from our own stories and from the stories of others. Our stories intersect with the stories of others. Consider, for example, how various stories could be told with time, place, and tagged data from the 2001 market season.




Cosmic glue: dynamically linking time, place, and tag metadata to tell stories

These few hundred photos that I took years ago, simply arrayed by time, place, and tag (in conventional Web galleries), tell a number of different stories and offer insights into a small community of farmers and shoppers. These data (properly timestamped, placestamped, and tagged) dynamically linked in a database, could easily reveal when, which farmer, grew what, along with a great deal more information that could be arranged to tell stories.

Now, imagine being able to dynamically link and arrange any time, place, and tag data from anywhere any time to tell different stories (any combinations of who, what, where, when, why). As unfiltered individual, local community, and global community stories are aggregated over time, freely and directly accessible to anyone anytime in a multi-dimensional and multi-sensory browser (in a future Web), imagine the potential for collaborative storytelling to advance humankind understanding. This is the goal of the TimeAndPlaceStories™ perceptual browser, or understanding engine, driven by metadata architecture. A beta site will hopefully be launched sometime in 2009.

One might visualize time, place, tags, and stories as one of the information hierarchy models: data, information, knowledge, wisdom (DIKW). We live our temporal and spatial lives perceiving and interpreting data from many different sources. Our lives are informed by arrays of data from different times, places, and points of view. We compose our own knowledge bases. This knowledge can contribute to wisdom.