Monday, June 9, 2008

A Time for Everything...

As well as calendar dates, another 'human scale' use of time relates to ordering notable historical events as timelines. At their simplest, timelines are just list of dates, in historical order, describing the evolution of some consistent theme over months, years, centuries, or even geological ages.

Timelines can be represented either as a simple, 'ranked' ordered list (that is, just a list of items one after the other, the first event first, then the second, then the third), or alongside an 'absolute' time based scale that represents each date alongside a continuous time axis.

In the first case, there is no real attention paid to the interval between events: so three events happening within the course of a week, one event per line, might be followed by another event on the very next line that happened several months, or even years, later.

In the second case, placing the events against the time axis allows events that happened close to each other in time to be represented close to each other in spatial terms, too.

Interactive timelines, as described in this blog post on oneTimeLine and the BBC British History Timeline, typically use the second approach.

If you would like to create your own timeline, there are several sites that offer 'hosted' timeline creation services, and that allow you to embed the resulting interactive timeline widgets in your own web pages: timeline creation tools.

There are also several timeline widgets that allow you to import the timeline data via an RSS or JSON syndication feed: timeline widgets.

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