Friday, September 23, 2005

Tracking your own changes

I'm fascinated by people's writing processes and how they strategically mediate those processes. Here's a wonderful anecdote from Jenny's comment to Jason Swarts' interesting post on particle vs. stream views of text:
I even use Track Changes myself when writing a paper. I like to have the original draft embedded in even my sixth or seventh draft, since it is in essence the same document, just with lots of different colors.

In a sense, using Track Changes enables me to develop my thoughts more thoroughly and clearly. And days later, when I'm reading and re-working the paper again, I don't have to wonder where a thought was coming from. My entire thought process is right there embedded in the text. It doesn't seem static to me because I can see how things developed from my initial ideas.
[via: Coherent Fragments]

Tracking your mediated life

Bill Hart-Davidson pointed me to Onlife, a new Mac-based software use tracking program.
[Onlife] observes your every interaction with software applications... and then creates a personal shoebox of all the web pages you visit, emails you read, documents you write and much more... then indexes the contents of your shoebox, makes it searchable and displays all the interactions between you and your favorite apps over time.
The idea isn't too far off from this project (from Bill, Clay Spinuzzi, and Mark Zachary), which seeks to reveal patterns of communication among people rather than an individual user's patterns of software use. And Onlife's visualization displays look quite similar to my own research data charts of writers' object use over time:

So naturally, just as I mis-used screen-capture software, I'm interested in Onlife as another possible tool for researching writing. ;-)