A look at AOL's new timeline creator, CircaVie

Hands-on with the software.

Caroline McCarthy Former Staff writer, CNET News
Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.
Caroline McCarthy
2 min read

Office time-waster alert! AOL's AIM Network has launched an interesting new service, CircaVie, which allows you to create a timeline of just about anything--your kid's life, your job, your backpacking excursion in Southeast Asia, or the chronicle of last week's party's devolution into debauchery. You can then embed your timelines into your blog, share them with friends, I played around with it, and I like the concept (a lot), but this is the kind of service that's left me wishing there was more you could do with it.

It's clear that CircaVie is trying to gear itself toward social media junkies who are eager to find new ways to map out and visualize their lives on the Web: when choosing your user icon, for example, you can opt to use your AIM icon, or select your user picture from Flickr or Twitter. It'd be nice to see this same implementation available for photo and video integration: you can put in the link to a photo anywhere on the Web or upload one to accompany a milestone on your timeline, but there's no way to work in your Flickr, Photobucket, or what-have-you account.

CircaVie's interface is really cool, it runs smoothly, and I really like having the ability to create a "time-tagged" photo mashup in the same way that I'm a big fan of Flickr's geotagging maps. But it needs more features to appeal to people like me who dig functionality. The biggest problem, as previously is that CircaVie isn't tied to any photo or video-sharing services, so you have to individually link and integrate whatever multimedia accompanies each marker on the timeline. Some other developments I'd like to see: a "location" field so that you can geo-tag events on your timeline (which could lead to some kinds of really cool space-and-time visualizations), the ability to delineate events with a span of time rather than just a start point, a zoom in/out function, a better selection of skins...the list goes on.

In other words, I think it's kind of begging for an API, but the Flash-based software doesn't look like it's really set up for that too well.

It's in beta, so maybe we'll be seeing those things soon. Alternately, maybe Flickr or a Flickr developer will come out with something similar that's more functional. Until then, it's still a cute little way to procrastinate.