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Published by Adam Scher

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Published by: Adam Scher on Dec 20, 2010
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 REMEMBERING:Explorations and Methodologies in Investigating the Past
Adam ScherThesis Writing PortfolioFall 2010Professor Chris Prentice
Adam ScherSeptember 20, 2010Components: Design Questions, Concept, Domains, MethodologyThroughout the past several weeks of the semester I have found thatmy thesis/research questions have changed quite a bit. They have somehowmigrated from this initial interest of movement and technology, into lookingat memory and ways it can be visualized. “History of movement” has alwaysbeen something that has fascinated me, and I have worked on severalprojects where I attempt to capture the essence of movement bydocumenting its paths over time. I wanted to take a step back and look atmemory from an emotional/narrative point of view, not from a physicalstandpoint.I began by sketching a map of  “things” that I felt could be used torepresent my memories. Included were:audio files, video, iChat conversations,documents, browsing history,photographs. This basic mappingexercise raised the question: “What dothese memories look like?” Of coursethere is an immense body of literaturethat I am beginning to gather onmemories, written by psychologists,sociologists, novelists. I am beginning todelve into this literature, but I felt theneed to just dive in and begin making. Intheory, my process over the past few days was to research and discoverthrough prototyping, not reading. And as a result, I have three differentprototypes exploring the theme of memory visualization.
Figure 1: Brainstorming in my journal
Since 2005, I have been saving a log of all of my iChat and gChatconversations. These logs save automatically into a folder on my hard drive,and I have never really given them much consideration. I always know theyare there, but they have served no purpose for me. In looking at my initialbrainstorming map, I wondered how I could visualize this data. Essentiallythese conversations, that span over 6 years, document my history. It isn’tuntil I actually read them, that my memories are ignited.Zach Gage created a project entitled Self-Portrait Bot, which was anauto chat bot comprised of several years of logged chat conversations. I feltthat this was a fantastic precedence, as he used the exact type of contentthat I am looking at visualizing. However, I was interested in creatingsomething more textural and transparent. Where Gage only shows you smallsnippets of these chats through a specific interaction of “talking”, I wanted todisplay these records more candidly. This led me to wondering: What do allof these chat logs look like when they are presented together? What does itmean to have all of my conversations displayed for everyone to read?I decided that I was interested in printing these conversations in theirentirety. I began by exporting all of the chats out into one single textdocument, which included the chat names of the people involved, the dateand time stamp, and the conversation itself. I knew that the length of all of these chats was going to be quite long, so I decided to print it on the largestpaper size available on the plotter printers: 42 inches by 120 inches, or 3.5feet by 10 feet. That is a very large piece of paper.Using inDesign, I started experimenting with the most logical way tolay out these chats. It was a process of trial and error, as I needed to keepdecreasing the font size to be able to incorporate more of the text. What I

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