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The Time Browser Project


(thoughts on the project for Doug’s 50th anniversary. New name used here, will likely change again)

The goal here is to gather data in rich, annotated and connected ways, so that the mundane but immediately useful interaction such as “what did George say to Sam about NASA last Tuesday?”, becomes possible immediately and the magical can be developed.

There are many projects underway to record – The Time Browser Project aims to augment how all those projects record in useful ways which can then be annotated and interacted with in powerful ways.

As the very first step, the project aims to capture the human voice and turn it into text as the very first data stream. This will allow records of meetings to be accessed and searched in meaningful ways.

Browser & HTML Analogy

The project aims to build a foundation where all the captures data types are clear and clean and rich. Anyone can then build their own interfaces for this – we are most certainly building our own – but may the best Time Browser win. The name’s use of ‘browser’ is meant to make the analogy with the web browser clear; the project works to create a a markup standard and a ways to browse the information.


With time as the backbone, richer data, more annotated and ever more connected, becomes available and alive. With high resolution audio and video (and other sensor data as they come online) we can present this date to high performance analysis and artificial intelligence agents to extract a data set of temporal points which reaches deep into what it means to be human. Picture a dialog between philosophers recorded over time and they are recorded with high fidelity audio from multiple microphones so the system can build a virtual acoustic ‘room’. The video image is also high definition and high frame rate so the system can extract cues from behaviour, including pulse. Over time this rich record will then be able to present ‘knowledge’ from these meetings beyond what was explicitly said, what was explicitly understood at the time.

The concept of ‘event’ as container/time capsule

Picture the wildly exciting and useful interactions, far beyond any hollywood movie or science fiction novel: Millions of people recording their public dialog, or private, where they keep the data entirely out of the public stream. Imagine building an ‘event’ based on a group of users proximity, they were all present at a location and all recorded a talk given by someone and then later their own aspects of break-out group dialog. Pictures of diagrams, 3D scans, notes and more comes together to give a rich and connected ‘event space’. This event could join up with other events on the other side of the planet and stay connected. At any point later anyone can refer to any part of the event either as a single data point or as a wide-shot of what else was going on.

Imagine the great philosophers working like this. Imagine small project teams working like this. Imagine what we can imagine doing once we ourselves start to live like this. Let’s imagine – and build – together.

Published inThoughts

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