Google Blogoscoped

Forum

What Happened In My Birth Year  (View post)

WebSonic.nl [PersonRank 10]

Monday, February 8, 2010
8 years ago7,678 views

Very cool! how do you get the information and images for each year this way?

niraj [PersonRank 0]

8 years ago #

Its an awesome idea nice work!

Ludwik Trammer [PersonRank 10]

8 years ago #

It's the most depressing site I have ever seen! Interesting and well done – I'll give you that – but depressing ;)

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

8 years ago #

WebSonic, from a variety of sources, but most facts are from Wikipedia.

Stephan Locher [PersonRank 9]

8 years ago #

Nice site, but I do not like the fact that it only writes something to the page when the window is focused because the text shows up way to slow.

But maybe this is just a issue with my browser(I currently use iceweasel as a webbrowser) , will try it at home with other browsers as well.

Roger Browne [PersonRank 10]

8 years ago #

As usual, an interesting and unusual twist to what would otherwise be an ordinary website!

By the way, Boris Pasternak didn't win the 1958 Nobel Peace price, it was Georges Pire.

Did I just divulge my birth year?

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

8 years ago #

Roger, wil fix that, thanks! [Ouch, there was an error with mixing up Nobel peace / literature prize in all years. Will be fixed soon!]

Stephan, I'm honestly unsure what the ideal typing speed is, I'll keep checking feedback on this. I think it partly depends on what you are up to at the moment – for instance, whether you're at work in a bit of a hurry, or if it's a quiet Thursday night and you got some M&Ms nearby (you know what I mean). But yeah, it could also be a browser/ CPU issue when it's very, very slow.

Adrian Panescu [PersonRank 0]

8 years ago #

For 1989 there is the following statement: Nicolae Ceauscescu is overthrown during the Czechoslovak Velvet Revolution.

The corect name is Nicolae Ceausescu and he was the communist leader of Romania, not Czechoslovakia. He was overthrown during the Romanian Revolution (even if this revolution took place in the same period as the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia).

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

8 years ago #

(Will be fixed, thanks Adrian! Edit: fixed now.)

g24 [PersonRank 0]

8 years ago #

Nice idea, but too slow, too much waiting around. Content should do the talking without its delivery mechanism getting in the way.

abby [PersonRank 0]

8 years ago #

Its slow.. increase the typing speed.. i cant wait forever to let it type..

maybe throw out sentences or words? or paragraphs?

i tried 2 times but got bored and closed in between.. the content was good but speed was too less

Doug [PersonRank 0]

8 years ago #

For birth year 1973,... it displays:

"But it didn't stop the planets from spinning, on an on, year by year."

The word "an" should be "and".

Great job!

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

8 years ago #

(Oops. Thanks Doug. Tony alerted me of this recently but I looked in the wrong file for a fix!)

mscha [PersonRank 1]

8 years ago #

For 2008:

People were indeed looking at movies in the cinema, and not downloading them online. Imagine the packed seats, the laughter, the excitement, the novelty. And mostly all of that without 3D computer effects.

Oh, really? :P

   – Michael

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

8 years ago #

(Thanks Michael, that was a bug, will be fixed in a minute!)

Mike N. [PersonRank 0]

8 years ago #

Really cool idea, but the text does not appear fas enough. Must be this new world we all live in, everything has to be now, now,now.

Nuno Mira [PersonRank 1]

8 years ago #

Really interesting, but tooooo slow.
I really don't want to wait all this long to see something written on the screen. If you do want this effect / speed, at least give an option to skip all of this and write the content immediately so that someone who is a bit in a hurry doesn't leave the site after the first seconds.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

8 years ago #

Just did a small speed increase, will consider further increases, thanks guys.

Lairton Borges [PersonRank 0]

8 years ago #

I guess it will be hard to find a ideal speed. Maybe you should offer some way to skip the typing and show all text at once (I'm not patient enough to wait for the text, in whatever speed you choose, maybe other people won't be either).

Also, I don't know if it's intended or not but it only types when the window is focused.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

8 years ago #

The no-focus-pause is intentional, though I'll ponder to get rid of it, this way at least people who don't feel like reading along the typing can surf elsewhere for a bit. The original idea was that if you're checking out a site from the links it shouldn't continue typing, but actually that's solved through the in-window pseudo-window in the meantime (originally there was a new window opening but I ran into problems with clicks not working in the dynamic layer, and then problems with popups being blocked when switching to the onmousedown event).

Edit: The out-of-focus-pause behavior is now removed. So the page will continue type in the background when you go elsewhere.

Sebastian [PersonRank 0]

8 years ago #

Found it rather dull. Some search results plus a little nostalgia, and all showing so slowly that I just left after a few paragraphs.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

8 years ago #

Sebastian, fair enough.

There's now a change to the site. Now, when you want to leave the page while it's typing, it will tell you that OK, all will be shown immediately, and you can decide if you want to continue leaving or not. If you decide not to leave you'll see it all at once. (With this compromise I hope to make those happy who like to see it all at once, while still avoiding displaying a "show all" button for those who might enjoy the typing, as that button may "break the fourth wall".)

Doug [PersonRank 0]

8 years ago #

Pretty cool.

Waldir Pimenta [PersonRank 2]

8 years ago #

I agree that the out of focus pause should be removed, but we should be able to drag the sidebar up, in case we browse elsewhere for too long and miss something.

Ionut Alex. Chitu [PersonRank 10]

8 years ago #

Beautiful site and great storytelling. It would be nice to interact with the story and to get a permalink for each year. I only managed to find a link to the text version:

whathappenedinmybirthyear.com/ ...

Dave [PersonRank 0]

8 years ago #

Not sure if this was intended or not, but (since it was going too slow) I tried to close the tab and Firefox gave me the 'Are you sure you want to' pop-up. I clicked, 'No don't close it' and then the whole thing filled out completely. I no longer had to wait for the text to slowly fill in.

I am not sure of the exact wording of the notification box.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

8 years ago #

Ionut, I pondered a permalink but it has some problems (not so interactive for the recipient when sent around), but now that you mention it, perhaps a cookie which saves the last few years you watched would be an option, to then add links to the top right which would immediately reveal that year you saw when clicked. Will think about that.

Dave, that is intentional, kind of in the hopes that if it's too slow for you the site might as well show it all at once...

Niraj Sanghvi [PersonRank 10]

8 years ago #

So is it correct that this content has been created for each year by you, or is the information automatically gathered? If the latter, I'm assuming it looks for certain things that happen/exist in every year (i.e. best song, top movie, etc.)? Pretty interesting.

James Xuan [PersonRank 10]

8 years ago #

Dude it goes on for so long, there's so much information, I love it, I think it's the best of any similar sites I've seen or used, really well done Philipp! Congratulations!

Are you going to start running ads on the site?

A [PersonRank 2]

8 years ago #

Great implementation! The typing speed should be much faster.

B Ray [PersonRank 0]

8 years ago #

Nicely done. (A couple of grammar errors popped up, but otherwise it was really fine.)

hebbet [PersonRank 10]

8 years ago #

2009:
"Microsoft releases operating system Windows XP." replace XP with 7 ;)

Zim [PersonRank 10]

8 years ago #

Interesting! I got tired of the typing, so I attempted to close the window; but the "show all now" alert made me stay, great move there. :)

ArpitNext [PersonRank 7]

8 years ago #

awesome! :)

RiyAndroid [PersonRank 8]

8 years ago #

Kool ;)

Adrian Lunsong [PersonRank 1]

8 years ago #

Cool.. but your speed increase is still not significant enough. It should be a speed where an average person could read it without having to wait for the next word to appear one letter at a time.. why not try converting the text to a computer generated speech, then you can speed match the typing speed to match the speech and probably add another 5% boost to it..

Travis Harris [PersonRank 10]

8 years ago #

Okay, first a preface. I am analyzing this as a professional, not as a political move. It is very cool, but that will probably not be felt in my tone. also, I haven't read any of the other comments before replying.

1) It did not focus the text field when I opened the page. I understand that you have instructions in that text box, but they could also vanish on click or on keydown. It made me have to use my mouse which us efficient computer users (read lazy) don't like to do.

2) The Countdown to my birth year was pretty slow, and since I'm on a laptop, the fade made the text was pretty hard to even see toward the end which made it seem like I was staring at a black screen for quite a while.

3) In general the text was typing too slow. I felt it appropriate speed for typing, but it made it feel tedious after about a minute. I suggest you start slower and then speed up from about 15 seconds to one minute until it is a comfortable speaking speed. Most adults in the US read faster than they speak, so this should not be too fast for most users. For the rest of the users, you should have a speed bar floating to the top right (I'm envisioning it being vertical with fast at the top and slow at the bottom)

4) The I was ctrl+clicking on links so that I could read up after I am done the show. This didn't work because it is designed to pause the show and let me read up on them and then continue. Maybe you should detect if the user is attempting to open in an unfocused tab and in that case allow the links to preform as expected. In general, I find that changing standard behaviors of browsers makes for poor usability.

5) When I try to scroll up, it rapidly scrolls back down and I can not find what I am looking for easily.

6) When I want to stop and notate something, I can't stop it except by clicking on a link somewhere to bring a popup up. This not only makes it difficult to use, but blocks the content I am wanting to look at. Both this and #5 could be solved by putting a pause/play button under the aforementioned speed bar.

7) The images that are used would be nice if I could access them without advanced computer knowledge. If they were linked to their original (where you got them) source, that would help drastically.

8) When I'm done, it is rather anticlimactic. It does not have a call to action. Maybe it should suggest that you share what happened in your birth year with friends and provide a link? At the risk of being corney, you could also offer a way to post it to their favorite social network (I am not recommending this, just throwing it out as an option)

Travis Harris [PersonRank 10]

8 years ago #

9) You don't state anything about license anywhere. What can a user do with this cool new information?

Travis Harris [PersonRank 10]

8 years ago #

I read through the content a little more closely and did find a number of grammatical errors, and looking up I see that there are quite a few grammatical and factual errors that others have mentioned. Maybe you should add a (small) floating link in the lower right corner that says "Find an error? Let us know!" That brings up a form to notify you.

I know I keep suggesting you add things to the UI, so now you have the challenge of making it seem simple. Maybe, since the bulk of users are familiar with watching videos, you could put it all in a floating bar at the bottom that has the feel of a video control bar.

/pd [PersonRank 10]

8 years ago #

has any1 figured out the minima date that can be entered ??

I tried "0001" and it err'ed me, I tried 1900 and it took it....

Thougth process here.. we can get a liner aspect of histrory and then redo the same parameters and then comp the contents to catch differ's :)-

Ad [PersonRank 1]

8 years ago #

I wrote 1991 and it said Luke Appling was born that year. Actually, he died in 1991.

Andy Wong [PersonRank 10]

8 years ago #

Wikipedia has the same function, not called your birth year, with much richer content.

Alex Ksikes [PersonRank 10]

8 years ago #

Makes me think of history as a slide show ;) which would mix the Wikipedia pages for a particular year with images taken from Yahoo. Unfortunately never implemented.

I guess you got the pages from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/year and then you mixed them with real human sentences to make it "intelligent" and story telling :) I love it, well done!

The novelty is in the story telling. That's really cool :)

Makes me think of the wise man idea. You enter a question and the wise man responds with a quote. The quote is taken from from Wikipedia according to the context of the question asked. I don't know if we had discussed the idea back in 2005. Never implemented unfortunately.

Willem Karssenberg [PersonRank 1]

8 years ago #

Great!
I would like to be able to adjust the speed text is coming with.
What about a connection with Google Translate so I can read the story in Dutch?
(not for me, but for my pupils...)

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

8 years ago #

Niraj:
> So is it correct that this content has
> been created for each year by you, or
> is the information automatically gathered?

I manually filled text files through selecting fitting items, copy and pasting (sometimes copying lists, sometimes item by item from individual pages), sometimes rewording, restructuring. For the roughly 100 years, it was not really needed to write a parser. Then I imported these files into a database (that part was scripted), and based on a template the script and database then created the content for each year. The template includes some very simple commands, along the lines of "ageAfter X" or "NobelPrizeExistsForYear" and so on, to determine what should be shown.

James:
> Are you going to start running ads on
> the site?

Not sure yet. The site should be very minimalistic. One option in the future is to replace the Google search for items with the same search, but using the Google Custom Search Engine, which if I understand it correctly can be tied to one's AdSense. I don't have any experience with that, though.

Hebbet:
> "Microsoft releases operating system Windows XP." replace
> XP with 7 ;)

Thanks, will fix! [Edit: Looks like this was in the piece of information generally speaking about the decade, i.e. 2000 – 2009... guess it can be misunderstood.]

Adrian:
> Cool.. but your speed increase is still not significant
> enough. It should be a speed where an average person
> could read it without having to wait for the next word
> to appear one letter at a time..

Will check into that again, thanks Adrian.

Travis:
> It made me have to use my mouse which us efficient computer
> users (read lazy) don't like to do.

I agree about this issue. I wanted to auto-focus the text field but then I would also need to select everything (as the field reads "my birthyear"), and then it kind of shows in blue background, which did not feel like the right layout to go for. I will look into this again, maybe it's possible to focus the field without that downside. I perfectly agree with you that auto-focusing is the way to go for these kinds of forms usually.

> In general the text was typing too slow.

OK...

> In general, I find that changing standard behaviors
> of browsers makes for poor usability.

Generally agreed, will check into this behavior again.

> When I try to scroll up, it rapidly scrolls back down
> and I can not find what I am looking for easily.

You're right. I should work on detecting this someway perhaps.

Ad:
> I wrote 1991 and it said Luke Appling was born that year.
> Actually, he died in 1991.

Will fix, thanks.

Andy:
> Wikipedia has the same function, not called your
> birth year, with much richer content.

I can say I love what Wikipedia editors are doing with the year function. Wikipedia's years data are a transformation of data from elsewhere (aggregation) that brings new patterns to the table. I hope the site I created also adds something new (not in terms of information, but in terms of emotions).

Alex:
> I guess you got the pages from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/year
> and then you mixed them with real human sentences to make
> it "intelligent" and story telling :) I love it, well done!

Thanks Alex. Yes, many to most of the facts come from Wikipedia, not just from that year URL but also other lists, and I also did some Google searches along the lines of [site:en.wikipedia.org comic "first appearance * * * 1975"].
The idea, as you mention, was not to present these facts for the first time – Wikipedia also didn't present them for the first time (by their policy they're not even allowed to present original research) – but the idea was to present these facts in a way that would affect you.

> The quote is taken from from Wikipedia according to the
> context of the question asked.

Sounds interesting. A guru chat bot who only talks in quotes, thus appearing wise. You might have come across Egobot here, which I created in 2003 and he only spoke in quotes pulled from Google... he actually managed to appear rather intelligent, if asked the right questions! See this interview: blogoscoped.com/archive/2003_0 ...

Willem:
> What about a connection with Google Translate
> so I can read the story in Dutch?

I was thinking of translating this into German for starters. Will see, thanks!

Brian Dsouza [PersonRank 0]

8 years ago #

the speed is indeed slow using Firefox. a suggestion is to provide summaries of what happened and put a hyper link there so that user can click n the link required to go further inside. Was too bored post 2 minutes to read any further to the raiders of the lost ark.

Stuart Henry [PersonRank 0]

8 years ago #

Cool idea.

I thought the text speed was a little slow, but not too annoying... maybe instead of typing it fades in the bottom 20% of the screen as you scroll down?? I dunno, just thinking of ways to accommodate fast readers with an interesting 'revealing' effect. I like the "Doogie Howser"-esque typing effect, in the end.

A small typo, for the year 1977:

Progress, year after year. Do you wonder where the world is heading towards to?

I assume you mean " ... where the world is heading towards?"

Well done!

David Mulder [PersonRank 10]

8 years ago #

Read through most comments, so:
   1) A dark, nearly invisible speed sidebar which could slide open would definitely be ok, as far as user interface goes. Just make sure its dark and small both when it's closed and when it's open.
   2) Permalinks: Why not have url/#1993 links, you can update those live from the javascript and read them out on page load and use them to directly start the whole thing.
   3) Sometimes it seems like you're just spilling out countless facts, without value. For example with the oscars and other awards you might want to consider to sometimes randomly pull out the first wikipedia sentence about the actor/movie and have it typed out.
   4) When having the whole text show up when leaving the page, you probably messed up the css as the font changes suddenly too.
Otherwise good work, loved it!

Stephan Locher [PersonRank 9]

8 years ago #

>adds something new (not in terms of information, but in terms of >emotions).

This would indeed be cool, but to get emotions I think there has to be more like if "La Boum" would be one of the movies mentioned fade in a 30 seconds of the song Reality by Richard Sanderson, in 1964 some noisy "Ick bin ein Berliner", show some seconds of video on the right side while talking about a video, a picture of the website image from back then and so on.

Or if this is to much work to too getting individual sounds/videos and picutres just add some general sounds like the sound of people in a cinema eating popcorn while talking about it e.t.c.

Hm, thinking of all this:
Please provide a API to your service ;-)

John [PersonRank 0]

8 years ago #

Nice idea, but it's slow as hell. I got really impatiant after about 20 seconds. Also the countdown doesn't do anything for me emotionally. It was more of a WTF? moment.

You mentioned that it should create something new in terms of emotions. I agree that the text is great and emotional, but when the rest is so appaling visually (black background, white verdana written in slow-ass typewriter style) it doesn't help.

Anyway, like I said, nice idea, just not very well presented.

Antonio C. Alves [PersonRank 0]

8 years ago #



I read it all till the end, fifty years, and I didn't feel bored.

But I guess you are still a very young person, and so you didn't care about many important aspects of life, and of History.

Yes, it's a great job, but it's only a small beginning, like the skin of what really matters and could be said about what, and how (and where) did things really change in the periods of each-one-of-us' lifetime.

Try to look at some other perspectives, leave the world of the virtual (cinema, tv, computers), and dive into reality. Try to tell your readers about what changed in our World in the last, let's say, hundred years in the fields of Education, Family, Work, Transportation, Social relationship, Population and Urban living, Wildlife and Biodiversity, just to start, and you'll then be amazed and amaze your readers knowing how much did the Earth, and Humanity change from the "Belle Epoque" to our present times. Believe me: I've been here in the last 50 years, and I've payed a lot of attention to many, many things that you don't think important in a minute, but could be crucial for your main options in life. Think of that...

Dave [PersonRank 0]

8 years ago #

We don't "look at movies" in the United States. We "watch movies".

Josue R. [PersonRank 10]

8 years ago #

fantastic site. loved the facts ~ 1983

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

8 years ago #

> We don't "look at movies" in the United States.
> We "watch movies".

Thanks Dave, will fix!

> I assume you mean " ... where the world
> is heading towards?"

Will fix, thanks!

> For example with the oscars and other awards you
> might want to consider to sometimes randomly pull
> out the first wikipedia sentence about the actor/movie
> and have it typed out.

Maybe adding a quote from the movie would be nice...

> 4) When having the whole text show up when leaving
> the page, you probably messed up the css as the font
> changes suddenly too.

Will check this, thanks.

> Or if this is to much work to too getting individual
> sounds/videos and picutres just add some general
> sounds like the sound of people in a cinema eating
> popcorn while talking about it e.t.c.

Adding background sounds is an interesting idea.

And thanks Antonio for the feedback!

Trish K. [PersonRank 0]

8 years ago #

Really lovely – loved the typewriter effect, felt it connected in a much more personal way than the usual sites of this type.

Did note that "Uruguay" was misspelled for the FIFA World Cup factoid. My year was 1958.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

8 years ago #

(Thanks Trish, will fix that typo!)

saad [PersonRank 0]

8 years ago #

good work :) it is fun

Vivek [PersonRank 1]

8 years ago #

Very nice site.

It would be great if you could add a pause button so that one can read if missed or reread the matter which passed above the page.

Bhavik [PersonRank 0]

8 years ago #

Ultimate.... superb... ;-)

This thread is locked as it's old... but you can create a new thread in the forum. 

Forum home

Advertisement

 
Blog  |  Forum     more >> Archive | Feed | Google's blogs | About
Advertisement

 

This site unofficially covers Google™ and more with some rights reserved. Join our forum!