This Made Me Project

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I’ve been doing a bit of thinking lately about why I am who I am and what made me that way. I think too much. I thought it would be interesting to put something visual together, sort of as a portrait/route of how I got where I am today and things that have influenced me, showing how they’d influenced me.

I realise the detail of my life isn’t something most people would be interested in, but maybe the idea/concept behind what I’m attempting to do is??

The idea came from a variety of places – wanting to create an interactive timeline of my musical influences since I was born, visiting the Wellcome Centre in London for a conference and seeing an interesting take on the idea of a family tree (sorry, I can’t remember who did the artwork), the idea of the Library Routes project, my use of Trailmeme and also wanting to develop my programming skills by doing something I’d not done before and presenting information in a different sort of way.

I just want to see if I could put something informative and creative together- not just text, but an interactive ‘This made me’ biography thing, showing key points/influences that led me down a particular path, no matter how seemingly unconnected. For example, I can connect being a fan of the band “The Stranglers” to my being a librarian and not pursuing a career as a computer programmer (short version- got computer, began programming, became fan of “The Stranglers”, wanted to make music like them, used computer for music instead, concentrated on music rather than programming, failed with my music dreams, took library degree, ta-daa!!!, Librarian and failed musician. ;-) ) (Update: I was saying I was the failed musician, not the Stranglers.)

I haven’t started the project yet and I’m not sure how I’ll present the information. But as an initial thought, creating the data as XML would make sense – at least then I can concentrate on getting the information together, without needing to worry too much about how I present it at this stage. I’ve not used strict XML in any of my programming, but have created some Gary versions of XML in the past without realising that I could do the same thing using a standard format. So, this will give me a good opportunity to explore XML more fully. The skeleton of information would be to identify the influences, their type and indicate how they link together (as a starting point).

As for presenting the information, maybe I could either create (1) A single image mashup or an image map (2) A network of visual information nodes like a mind map (3) A timeline. I’m still undecided about that. I think having it in XML will give me the chance to experiment. Whatever I do, it needs to be connected in a easy-to-navigate way.

Disclaimer: As with all of my ideas there’s no guarantee that I’ll stick to plan A or that I’ll even be able to finish it. But I’ve got to give it a go.