trenchant.org

by adam mathes
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Painted Ceilings in Software

The first web site I can remember adjusting based on the time of day I visited was Carl Steadman’s Freedonia.

I’ve heard a number of people mention details about the changing headers in iGoogle themes as something they really enjoyed.

And there was something magical about Animal Crossing’s treatment of time that added a whole other element to the game.

Although it’s not complex technically to adjust presentation or content based on time of day, I don’t see it that often, and it’s still a wonderful little surprise.

There’s something very humanizing about technology that adapts to the time of day in an ambient way.

Because machines by default don’t care! But we do, as people. Real world environments change throughout the day. If they don’t, there’s an uncomfortable artifice to the place, like a Las Vegas casino.

Most software has this uncomfortable artifice, devoid of the natural cycles of the sun that help contextualize our lives.

I was thinking about this in relation to Top Priority, which tries to subtly contextualize your primary task in time with simple background colors evocative of the sky at a time of day. When I made the change from a white background to the colors, it completely changed the application for me.

The colors and things are pretty simple in this initial version, but I hope to improve it over time.

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