As you know, new ideas often come from things already forgotten… Therefore, I like looking at research projects and experimental products as they are good ways to find some fresh ideas. A few days ago, I was looking at the Lifestream application created by Gelernter 1994; Freeman 1997.
Another predecessor and association is Malone’s influential study – “How Do People Organize Their Desks?” (1983). I found some very interesting concepts that, in my opinion, can be valuable for Product Lifecycle Management. What particularly caught my attention was the association between lifecycle and Lifestream. Actually, in regards to lifecycles, I think that we are very disconnected from representation of time in PLM applications.
Lifestream is about time. Originally, the proposed approach was to throw away filenames, folders and static filling and replace it with stream of information arranged according to time. Actually after the implementation of Lifestream, some of its features were found in Apple iApps and other commercial products.
While terms such as file/folders/desktop are brilliant, but Lifestream focused on the non-traditional aspects of information management, which is not typical for regular computer users. On the same point, I think PLM is different as a good concept of managing of product data that needs to be invented.
The Lifestream model is about to create, organize and present timelines. Whereas timelines may have different representations – collections, calendars or queries, this model would eliminate all other artificial models that people need to create in order to store product information. It’s interesting that this model would allow you to use a “time oriented” memory. An additional benefit of this approach is that the timescale lets you use the same model to manage tasks by leveraging future timelines. Appropriated information “tagged with future date/time” would appear in the scope of the system whereby the user would get this information as an alert.
I think this is definitely an interesting concept that requires additional research and validation with users. I’d be glad to hear your comments and thoughts.