@x Chronicles

Imaginary Agents

Imaginary Agents: The @x Chronicles is the full title and charts the adventures of (at least) 2 individuals of extraordinary abilities as they traverse universes of possibility.

Imaginary Agents: The @x Chronicles

Very few people realize that in 01998 a new meridian was draw on the planet. This made way for a new division of time so that it could be recordable on a 10-base system. The measurement of time became metric; starting at 0 and ending at 999. It was no mistake that a Swiss watch company, Swatch, made this possible. It was touted and celebrated by the likes of Nicholas Negroponte, founder of the MIT Media Lab.

The idea of metric time is nothing new, but this one was widely hyped and, as I said, celebrated. It was meant to be ‘Internet Time’. No time zones and no conversion; if it was @999 somewhere in the world, it was @999 everywhere else. Sun up or down, people asleep or awake–time was the same time everywhere. If I said my ‘Internet event’ (such as streaming) was to take place @879, then all one would have to do is log on at that time, anywhere. No messy adding or subtracting from other Mean Times or whatever. So the world is divided into ‘.beats’ and a thousand of them at that. Each one is equivalent to 86.4 seconds of normal time.

.beat time fascinates me, from the necessity of drawing a new meridian to its usage across server farms and the like on the Internet. In the sense of digital imaging, Internet time increased to resolution of the planet. New meridian means a smaller map grid. A smaller square in the grid the better refined data in said square. It’s like if you had a raw image at 72 dpi and then upped the resolution to 300 dpi. The image is more crisp and zooming in reveals finer detail.

—From the atxchronicle.com website’s About page

The Design

logo no text

‘Imaginary Agents’ & ‘Chronicles’ came later, the original was just ‘@x’

I knew creating a brand identity for this small piece of literary contribution had to match a few criteria: besides being unique and identifiable, it had to be elegant but obscure. The necessity of this came from how random and general I am about the nature of these writings. Like the Arthur C. Clarke quote below, I wanted the logo to capture ‘science fiction without the science’. This is a production approach of a favorite Science Fiction show called Farscape. I don’t intend to delve into fantasy or magic in the story, so the design had to be formal as well. Despite how outlandish an event or ability may be in this little world of mine, there will always be a practical explanation for it.

Since, fundamentally, the whole premise was based on a unit of time developed by a third party (Swatch), I needed to pay deference to them. Luckily, I am a Swatch fan and a big enough time nerd to know what the name of my favorite watch was in the .beat line. Virtual Wave was a cool, if bulky, dual layer LCD with an aluminum body. Inspired by the design of the watch face and its animation, I recreated the bottom element, centered the ‘@’ symbol and add the bars from the animation, which I thought framed the combination mark well.

Additionally, as expressed above, the time stamp of this measure meant is @000, and I wanted to incorporate that more generally and as a variable. Naturally, illustrating 3 digits more generally creates problems if you use the math approach (@xxx just looks questionable). To be fully open to variations within the story, I went back to math and reduced the 3 digits to 1 (@x) and used 3 dots to illustrate the total digits represented. As a happy accident, the dots also came to signify an ellipses. In writing, an elipses can represent an omission or a trailing off of thought. This works out well because I write these sometimes years apart, end them a cliff hanger, or can even imply that something took place between 2 writings.

Swatch .beat Virtual Wave model

Again from the website:

I’ve come to call this series ‘@x’ because the ‘@’ is to only the designator for Internet Time, but ‘x’ is a standard variable in math. An ‘x’ is an unknown, and like an equation, combined with Internet Time, I am trying to solve for ‘x.’ This story is ‘x’, but also the full title ‘@x’ is a way of expressing an unknown time stamp, as this story is written impulsively. Very little editing, even to the point of spelling errors, is even done. I have cleaned it up for presentation on this site, however. I hope you enjoy.

The Website

The stories began as stream of consciousness weblog entries on an ancient version of dpstudiolab.com, until I decided to put them out on their own. At first, I authored the website to gain practice in html5 and css3, as well as my first foray into responsive design (circa 02008). I used pixels, percents, and hard breakpoints, but didn’t target specific devices. I actually resized the browser and when the when it looked bad, I put in a new breakpoint. This is what I later discovered was ‘responsive’ or ‘mobile’ first design. Additionally, in about 02000, I found a javascript that kept internet .beat time, but it wasn’t until I put this site up that I used it. Just recently, I’ve had to re-author (hack) this javascript to show a leading 0 for times less than @100, so internet time is no responsible for my learning Javascript as well. Finally, an old abstract charcoal drawing of mine has also become a regular image for this identity in general, but it started out as the background image for the old website (and the new one). I’ve even used this site to demonstrate responsive design and process to my web design classes.

‘@x’ version 1

Screen cap of web site

New Imaginary Agents Site sports a very altered WordPress theme

The Javascript

This code may be clunky, but I hacked it and it works. This has been a go-to for learning Javascript, though. This is not the old code I spoke of, but a formerly ‘alert box’ script. After so much googling, I came across a GitHub or CodePen type site where users submit code ‘challenges’. This was is altered from that original code to make the timestamp write to the page. I’m not sure I could explain how I did that.

Screen cap of code

I don’t know how this does what it does, but I got it to work.

The site and identity have really grown, and the site specifically takes on more modern trends like squaring out entries akin to Pinterest. The titles are kept short and are always contain the .beat time stamp at which I started writing. Soon I will need to start to keep track of when I write as the stories become more numerous.

This is the potential scope of the story from the website’s about page:

I’m interested in filling every ‘beat’ from @000 to @999 with an insight into this world. That’s 1000 snippets that somehow have to form a cohesive whole. Just as we perceive time to move in one direction, so to will this story. In the sense that the plot will move forward, whether or not it is back and for in the time of the story has yet to be determined. I write these as I have time on my regular weblog, but I’ve decided to provide all of them as a compilation. They read in order from left to write, the number being the Internet Time stamp at which I began writing.

Lastly, here’s the final graphic combination mark treatment. Represented here in is one quintessential consideration: None of this writing will ever take place offline. Everything is typed in the moment, either directly into the WordPress interface or in a cloud accessible document.

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