Cyclical Time

A way to describe and interact with cyclical time.

'Cyclical Time' aims to provide a means to display and interact with cyclical time and events. Active prototypes demonstrating use are Manja Koorliny Bidi showing display of information on maps, and a simple example showing concentric timeframes.

Cyclical events can be very complex, with concentric cycles at different scales and with overlapping phases, as in these examples of some indigenous seasons in Australia, and all the information about food, law, celebrations, ceremony, stories, navigation, and other information that is associated with them. Although there has been some development and some data standards established for representing cyclical time, such as recurring events in linear calendars, there are many cases, such as these seasons, that require more sophisticated information structures and user interfaces to handle.

There are any number of examples where better ways of structuring and visualising cyclical time and associating it with other information can help understanding and education, from how winds and currents effect trade from Zanzibar to Guangzhou to Australia, to how El NiƱo interacts with wet and dry seasons.

This stream of development is being developed from the beginning, with the Journey Ways project guiding requirements, and with the aim of making it possible for similar projects to be undertaken by anyone. Development is undertaken in phases:

  1. Establish a working example for feedback. The current prototype adapts knob.js for the circular widget. (suitable for a single project only)
  2. Design a structure for cyclical information, building on open standard formats where possible (JSON, GeoJSON, etc) that is parsimonious, lightweight and extensible, and an application that can handle any cycle specified in this structure (suitable for developers to implement in different scenarios)
  3. Build basic components for displaying, addressing and navigating information in common media (eg: text, html, json, xml, kml, jpg, png, giv, avi, mp4, wav, mpg, mp3, IIIF, etc) triggered by the cyclical events (suitable for developers to implement in different scenarios)
  4. Build a user interface so users can enter details about cycles to build and visualise any cycle they wish (suitable for people in general)

Sometimes when the first phase is done it may appear to non IT people that all the work is done, because you can see it working. This may suffice for a project, but the aim of TLCMap is to provide 'infrastructure' which anyone can use for a similar project so it's important to be aware that is just the first step towards a proper system. Progressing through these phases depends on funding, available resources and prioritisation. This is another revolution in the iterative cycle of development, building on previous development cycles of others, enhancing, bug fixing and changing, that others may add their own iterations to in future generations.