Personal data, time & calendars

This research shows the diversity of the use of time and suggest alternative ideas to use a calendar

In our daily lives, we exposed to an enormous amount of shapes, colors, textures, sounds that design the way we communicate and interpret time. This thesis was made to give a deeper understanding of the world of calendars in modern times and old times. The study was made to suggest different solutions to combine personal characteristics elements and bridge the gap between the analog and the digital calendar interface. The research shows the background and impact of calendars in different cultures and explores how people have visualised their personal yearly timeline and use calendars with analog and digital interfaces.

The Problem
1. Generic and Personal calendar
I was inspired by the notion of whether the cultural and religious content of calendars influences people the same way calendars influence me. I question myself as a designer who creates these generic systems according to the customer’s request. For many people, a calendar now represents a digital interface that helps manage time, and it is not necessarily a personal or cultural product. It today’s calendars system, it become impossible to combine personal characteristic.

Cultural and GenericImage placeholder

2. Synchronise between digital and Analog calendar
I always loved analog calendars, and every year I would wait for the beginning of the year to look at the various calendars notebooks. I experienced a big gap between the two interfaces and the problem of synchronising the information in both. At the same time, I am not prepared to give up the personal and creative experience of the analog interface. The obsessive and perpetual preoccupation with the digital world does not allow us to control our time as in a simple analog notebook and the awareness of free time becomes blurry and unclear.

The study was done in several methods. The first part focuses on the background and impact of calendars in different cultures. It examines the basis for each calendar and how the daily life and culture is reflected in the calendar.

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The second part explores how people use calendars in practical terms with analog and digital interfaces. Also, this section shows the background to various calendars and presents several projects and products that combine analog and digital calendars.

Analog & Digital CalendarsImage placeholder

Solution in the MarketImage placeholder

User's Pain PointsImage placeholder

The third part is a study that was created to understand whether people have their own personal visuals that define the timeline for the year. It presents various influences and factors that affect the way each person visualizes the year with different graphic elements. The last part includes several projects in the fields of art and design, which come to suggests various concepts ideas for calendars. Some of the projects are more abstract and artistic, focusing on showing a different approach for dealing with time, while some other projects are practical and can be used for time management use. This diversity should motivate users to change the way calendars are perceived in the modern world and to give a different perspective of how millions of users are dealing with time.

Case Study
In this case study, I want to test how people from different cultures visualise their yearly timeline. During this study of calendars, I have realised that in my mind, I have a visual that reflects my own timeline for the year. The study is designed to understand whether people develop a visual memory that is inspired by calendar systems they have used or if they are creating their own visuals from their personal imagination. In this study, I would like to understand whether people are still influenced by their cultural background (and if so, what characteristics are important to them) or whether they are influenced by other reasons such as personal events, lifestyle, etc. My timeline structure has been in my mind since my childhood and is based on my cultural and daily life experiences with calendars. I was wondering if other people have their own visuals for the yearly timeline as well, and which kind of characteristics inspire them. The study case was set up in the following way:

I have asked 32 participants between the ages of 25-40, from 11 countries to follow the following tasks:
  • Create your own visual for the yearly timeline.
  • It should not be about a specific year.
  • It can be any kind of shape, and it can be abstract.
  • Any additional information can be added.
  • It can include colors, icons, drawings, etc.
  • It should show the beginning of your timeline.
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    When I started this study case, my assumptions were very different than the results I obtained. I assumed that either culture, country or religion of each person would be one of the major influences on their timeline and that different cultural characteristics would be shown through visuals of different people. I was expecting to see characteristics of different calendars such as the beginning of the year, writing direction, holidays and symbols. But the results were interesting and surprising. In most of the visuals, there was no mention of cultural or religious background. Most of the visuals were based on conceptual abstract feelings, year seasons, personal moods, hobbies and life structure.

    During this study, I was exposed to a multitude of time-related subjects that brought up many questions such as, “How do people manage themselves in our modern world?”, “Do the tools offered by calendar digital interfaces really make us efficient?”, “How can a calendar turn into an abstract interface?”, “How do I combine the digital and analog experience into one interface?”, and “Do people pay attention to their free time?” The exposure to new information, and moreover, friends’ conversations, brought me to create different conceptual ideas for projects dealing with calendars. Those projects were created to focus on the experience outside the digital world or combining the analog and digital world. It was important to me to combine a tactile experience that will represent the concept of time and to express time through different senses such as palpation and hearing, and not just seeing.
    When using a digital calendar interface, the events are represented by digital squares that do not give users enough tools to express creativity. There is no ability to express ourselves through paintings, typography, handwriting, special colors and other graphic elements. These are the reasons that led me to consolidate different concepts of projects and try to see how they can be functioning. Some of the projects are designed to allow people to focus on their free time and not only use the calendar to schedule their tasks and meetings, while other projects focus on personal characteristics and individual creativity. Those projects are not necessarily designed to be effective for daily use but rather to show different ways of observing how people manage their personal time.

    Time2 - Neckles that change availability in google calendar while changing its sideImage placeholder

    MusiCalendar - A combination between the digital and the analog world using personal dataImage placeholder

    Minus Time - Analog board to keep on track with free timeImage placeholder

    Abstract Calendar - Visualize a calendar using shapes and colorsImage placeholder

    Analog Planner - Events synchronization & personalized visualization nootebookImage placeholder

    TAGS art, data, thesis, UX, UI, calendars, tactile design, tangible design