Etsy Time-machine

Etsy have come up with a cool toy – more fun to play with than useful though. The timemachine plays an interactive Flash animation of the most recent additions of hand-made goods on the site by its independent sellers.

Etsy Timemachine

The items fly past from most to least recently added, like you’re flying through a cloud of product. Moving the mouse changes where you fly and if you click on a product then a tag (like an airline luggage tag) appears with details. All very swish and it catches your eye. I’m not sure that it adds a lot of value to the site, though I guess they’ll get mentioned by other blogs – and since they’re not marketing themselves they’ll need this kind of coverage to get their word out.

Whilst it loads (it takes a few seconds) it reports that it is ‘charging the flux capacitor’. The geeks shall inherit the Earth!


  • It's quite pretty to be sure, but yeah it does seem a bit pointless (beyond the coverage). At least it's not the sole interface to the site though, as it's got a serious "mystery meat" feel about it.
  • Ian
    John sent me the link for mystery meat navigation over at webpagesthatsuck. Yep, I agree, I can't say I'll use that page again and having to click-and-guess is a no-no in my book. Still, it is a fun toy to play with for a minute.
  • Stef
    Um, it's not mystery meat navigation because it's showing you an image by default, and people shop online using images more than anything. As far as I can tell, it's just a toy that is a small part of the site. They also just launched a Geolocator and already have a shop by color interface.
  • Ian
    I like their tools, they have some neat interfaces up there. I'm not a member of the site but I am rooting for them - they're boot-strapping in a nice way and I confess I'm following their apparent success with interest. I stand by John's comment about mystery-meat navigation though - you have a semi-web interface as you can cause URLs to be called - but you don't get these from anything that looks like a hyperlink. I get a bit worried when I have to click-and-hope, I'd much rather I could predict the outcome of interacting with an interface. Still, I won't knock it - it has generated blogger interest for them so their word spreads, and the tool is hardly difficult to use.
  • It's probably not totally mystery meat like, as you always know you are getting a product of some description. Plus as you say you do have an image to click on, but these images aren't really big enough to discern what they are, until they get quite close. So you end up having to hunt around a lot.
  • Stef
    So what we have is another type of meat. It's not totally myster-meat because you have the image. It's like having an icon, which upon mouseover shows in a popup what it does. For example, in Word when you mouse over the little icon of a disk in the toolbar, after two seconds the word "Save" sppears above it. That's not MMN. On in the street sign example at the site linked to above, what if you just saw the big arrow, and then upon "rollover" saw the "Exit" text above it? On Etsy, the thumbnail is an icon of sorts -- you get a general idea of what you're clicking on. Also, does no one here put any credence in what Stewart Butterfield has talked a lot about: the element of play in getting people to interact. Perhaps the fact that the thumbnails are floating through three dimensional space adds another element.