What Happened In Your Birth Year?

Does anyone know what Philipp Lenssen eats for breakfast? I want some. Dude has unending energy — he’s always coming up with new and interesting Web archives and sites. His newest tool sounds so basic when you see the URL, but then you start digging into it…

His latest is called What Happened in My Birth Year, available at (wait for it) I at first thought that this would be a cute little page that would use various APIs to pull in a page of data — possibly a collage — of things relevant to your birth year. Nope.

Instead it asks for your birth year and slowly fades out as it counts backwards through the years. Finally the page background goes to black, and a white line of text begins printing out. What it starts with depends on what year you were born but generally you’ll get a note about what movie was popular that year, and then a narrative that combines time-based facts with philosophical questions and reflections on life.

It’s kind of like hanging out with a drunk, maudlin history professor.

I love the idea of imparting information via a narrative like this, though occasionally it was a bit awkward in its presentation (a discussion about who won the Nobel Prize was followed by a reflection on the transience of life.) If you get tired of how slow the text is unrolling, you can click on the back button and get the option to reveal all the text at once. Once you have the whole page together, you’ll notice that you can click on underlined parts of the narrative get overlay windows with the Google search results for the underlined text.

A very unusual way to present data pulled from a variety of sources, and worth a look just for that fact. And don’t you want to know who was the Nobel Prize winner for physics the year you were born?

Categories: News

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