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Time: A New Type of Data

The Mashup App allows you to annotate time information to the data in your personal database. So you can add time data to web, PDF, image, video, and audio content to describe when the content was created, approved, or deleted.

Many types of users such as historians, archivists, rescue workers, and archaeologists have a requirement to document the relationship of time and location to other types of data such as documents and images. The Mashup App supports modeling both time and location data directly in your personal database as well as attributes attached to other data such as web, image, video, audio, and PDF content.


With direct support for saving time directly into your personal database, you can associate a group of data as being related to a specific event or time period. A researcher or rescue worker in the field can therefore catalog not only what she discovered but also when and where she discovered them. Furthermore, she can define the origin time and not only the discovery time.

Computer researchers and database companies have spent decades trying to develop time support for enterprise databases. Databases with support for time are also known as temporal databases. Though needed for many advanced applications, these temporal capabilities have not received wide adoption because corporate users have widely differing requirements and the industry has not been able to standardize on a core set of temporal features. On the consumer side of computing, the desktop metaphor and its use of files and folders has limited users to file and folder creation and last modified times. For files and folders, you generally need to know when a file was created or modified to ensure that you have the most recent file in case you have duplicates. File times are also helpful if you forget a file's name and have to guess about the data in the file. A user has no realistic ability to document that the data in a file refers to a certain time period or calendar event and is unrelated to the file and folder time. In temporal databases, this problem is sometimes refered to as the difference between database transaction time and real world valid time.


As professionals and home users begin to adopt mobile devices as their primary computing platform, it has become crucial to provide comprehensive support for time data. Accordingly, The Mashup App provides the following capabilities for time data:

  1. Every data item in your personal database can be associated with time information. This allows you to annotate web, PDF, image, audio, video, and location data with time information. Camera users realize the importance of knowing when a photo was taken but this capability also allows a user such as a historian or legal professional to document the creation, signature, or destruction of a PDF. Likewise a traveler is able to annotate trip data with the time that they visited each location thus providing a more memorable experience.

    The Mashup App provides detailed information about each place you visited associating time with location

  2. To support editing and undo, every data item in your personal database can have multiple versions each specifying a different time. By default, there is the version of the data at creation time and at last modified time. In this example, the user is editing a web article which was saved into her personal database

    In addition to saving web content into your personal database, The Mashup App allows you to edit and annotate web content by highlighting important sections and deleting irrelevant parts such as ads. You can undo your changes and revert to the original article.

  3. You can provide a textual description for the data which can include time information. This is an informal way to document time information. In this example, the user has saved an important web article by Virginia Postrel from Reason Magazine. The user has provided informal time information in the description:
    The category view allows you to search your personal database by description, URL, location, or time. As a memory aid, you can also sequentially browse your personal database.

  4. Every data item can have multiple time, location, and contact information associated with it. For example, a historian or legal professional will at times need to document the when, where, and by whom of a PDF for creation, signature, or destruction.

    Because many types of users including rescue workers, historians, archeologist, and legal professionals routinely deal with time data, you can associate time and location information with your data. You can also link a calendar event and contact information with your data.

  5. Time information may be defined either as a specific time or a duration. Users who work with time as a duration include historians and archeologist who need to catalog data as related to specific historical time periods. Also, legal professionals working in e-discovery need to group digital data according to contracts or laws in effect during a specific time period and geography. 

    For historical information, you might not want to define a caledar event. Nonetheless, you can add time information to your data and represent a time period or duration.

    As for users who need to treat time as a specific instant or event, this includes legal professionals who work in accident litigation.

    You can add time information to your data and represent a specific instance of time.

  6. Time information may incorporate uncertainly. For example, insurance fraud investigators may initially suspect when a crime was committed but may be uncertain of the length of time of the crime.

    The Mashup App allows you to navigate your personal database by time information.

  7. Every data item in your personal database may be linked to a calendar event from your device's built-in calendar app. Mobile professionals can access their personal database from the built-in calendar and address book. The user can tap on a special link which will display data from the personal database

    You can access your personal database from your calendar by linking calendar events with data in your personal database. This allows you to always have detailed information for meetings.You can access your personal database from your address book by linking contact information with data in your personal database. This allows you to access detailed context/biographical information about a contact.  


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