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The Dirt on The Heap

So what is The Heap and why is this site fading?

The Heap is the term for archives around here. Every item in those archives is associated with a point in time. Today. June 29th. March 11th. Each of those points encapsulates a unique frame of mind and is represented by a different color within The Heap.

Winter begins with a blue which spring changes to green. Summer fades to yellow and turns an orange-red by autumn. The shirt color in the photo on the About the Author page changes to reflect the color du jour.

But these colors are not static. This winter is not the same as last winter. As time passes these colors, like the frame of mind and the items associated with them, begin to fade.

The four stripes down the left-hand side of each page of this site provide ambient temporal context to the item currently displayed—as does the brightness of the background color and overall contrast of the page you are viewing.

Heap Diagram

The first stripe represents today. This color will change every day—if only imperceptibly. The second stripe represents the day an item was originally posted. This color will never change. The third stripe represents the day an item was originally posted—relative to today. This stripe will start out the same color as the second stripe but fade to white over time. The fourth stripe applies only to reader-submitted comments and represents a comment’s relative position between the item’s original post date and the date of the last comment on that item. This stripe is lighter when the comment is closer to the original item’s post date. Large jumps in the difference between the tint of two comments indicates a greater amount of time passing between the posting of two comments compared to the time between other comments.

Consecutive daily hues and comment tints, like recollections of consecutive moments, can be difficult to differentiate and may bleed together. But comparing two events separated by a month or years can throw the two events into sharp contrast.

As an exercise, think about your sixth birthday—or the stereotypical children’s birthday party if your memories are a little vague. Now compare to the events of your fifth or your seventh birthday. Cake, candles and funny hats, right? But not much to differentiate the lot. Now compare to the events of your twenty-first birthday—again, substituting stereotypical behavior if that night has long been blotted out. How’s that for contrast?

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