Meerkat and Tuba: serendipitous presentation of digital content

Having a large quantity of pictures on my Flickr account, I enjoy using Photojojo time capsule, a system that send me twice a month photos from a year ago. I like this kind of almost random selection of my past appearing in my (boring) Mail app. Which is why I was intrigued by this design prototypes described in "Meerkat and Tuba: Design Alternatives for Randomness, Surprise and Serendipity in Reminiscing by John Helmes, Kenton O’Hara, Nicolas Vilar and Alex Taylor:

"People are accumulating large amounts of personal digital content that play a role in reminiscing practices. But as these collections become larger, and older content is less frequently accessed, much of this content is simply forgotten. In response to this we explore the notions of randomness and serendipity in the presentation of content from people’s digital collections. To do this we designed and deployed two devices - Meerkat and Tuba - that enable the serendipitous presentation of digital content from people’s personal media collections. Each device emphasises different characteristics of serendipity that with a view to understanding whether people interpret and value these in different ways while reminiscing."

Meerkat is aimed at exploring the notion of getting the user's attention to push content to him/her:

Unlike the previous one, Tuba requires the user to deliberately pull content of the device:

Why do I blog this? I find it interesting to see how time and asynchronous interactions can be embedded into tangible artifacts such as these two examples.