Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

UIs That Amass Memories

I’ve been watching this tremendous Twitter thread started by Marcin Wichary since yesterday:

Fascinated by UIs that accidentally amass memories. One of them is the wi-fi “preferred networks” pane – unexpected reminders of business trips, vacations, accidental detours, once frequented and now closed cafés.

Another? The alarm page and its history of painful negotiations with early mornings. (One of these, I’m sure, was for a lunar eclipse; another for sending a friend in Europe a “good luck” text.)

I like that both of these places require you to coax your memory a bit to remember.

What else like this is out there?

People replying have suggested logs of completed reminders, weather app, and composing a new iMessage to an infrequent contact as more memory-laden UIs. Another two suggestions, from me: open tabs, and web browser history. I have a hard time with remembering to close tabs on Safari for iOS, and there’s an animation bug where, sometimes, opening a new tab will scroll through the entire list, giving me glimpses of articles and websites I opened weeks prior. Also, Safari on the Mac defaults to keeping history items for a year, and trudging through those can be a trip down memory lane — again, articles that I was reading, recipes, job hunting, trying to find a new apartment, and the like are all in there.

I love all of those suggestions, but the one I keep coming back to is WiFi history, especially because it’s collected almost passively. I hadn’t checked my own history in a while and found it absolutely full of memories: the network I set up for my parents in my childhood home, which they’ve since sold; there’s a hotspot for a Gloria Jean’s Coffee location, which I could have connected to in Kuta when I got lost there, or it could have been from another time in Los Angeles. Wonderful.