In case you didn’t get enough of Time’s list of the 100 most influential people (which this year includes such highlights as Ashton Kutcher writing about Twitter’s founders, and singer Rick Astley writing about 4chan creator Moot), you no longer have to settle for just reading the list and the resulting coverage. That’s right, friends, you can also explore the list as a spinning globe of Very Important People, via an application that runs on AIR, Adobe’s platform for hybrid web/desktop applications.
Yes, an app for exploring a single magazine feature seems pretty frivolous, especially compared to those that let you actually read and share the news. On the other hand, if you’re like me (i.e., unhealthily obsessed with lists), The Time 100 app provides a fun new way to check out the list; certainly it’s more interesting than just clicking through page after page of profiles. Instead, there’s a spinning globe with colored pins showing where different people are from. The colors tell you the person’s category — whether they’re a “builder and titan,” “hero and pioneer,” and so on. When you click on a pin, the app takes you to the full profile. Oh, and you can also explore the lists from the previous five years.
Obviously, one of the ideas is to illustrate the global nature of Time’s list. I do think the app makers fudged a bit, because they locate people in their city of birth, rather than their current location. (Aside from increasing the geographic spread, is it really meaningful to tie Amazon’s Jeff Bezos to Albuquerque, New Mexico, or TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington to Orange, Calif.?) But even with that fudging, the app becomes crowded and hard to navigate when you look at metropolitan areas like Los Angeles and New York — the ability to zoom in would have been nice.
Anyway, it’s a fun gimmick to promote Time and HP’s TouchSmart computer (which the app is supposedly optimized for). But I think gimmicks don’t fare that well when you have to download them, rather than visit a web site. If this were a Flash web app, I might have bookmarked it and returned whenever I’m looking to procrastinate. But since it’s taking up space on my computer, I’m already itching to delete it.
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