History is a beautiful, crazy thing. But it’s not always taught like that. In a standardized school system of testing, history proves too chaotic, so it ends up being structurally curtailed to names, dates, and locations — coordinates instead of the journey. That’s no longer the case, thanks to Hoagy Cunningham and Misha Wagner, creators of timeglobe.
Sourcing data from Wikipedia and DBpedia, timeglobe is essentially an online interactive globe of history, empowering users to peruse and bounce through major events of the past the world over. More specifically, users can broaden their scope of discovery to things like the revolutionary activities of every country at the turn of a century or narrow their interests in order to trace the course of wars. You can see what happened when and observe its far-reaching influence or eventual impact. You can go in for one thing and be presented with the context of similar or related events.
That’s really what Cunningham’s promise is to casual self-educators and diligent researchers alike: context.
“I think that it gives a perspective on history that simply cannot be gotten in any other way – being able to see a cross section of what is going on in an area at any time in history is something that I find very exciting. I also love that although all of the data is entirely public, just by presenting it in a different, more visual manner, it gives the content a whole new life, and by presenting all these events together, it gives people something that they could never get through looking at the event in isolation.”
In fact, Cunningham has a go-to example of similar or related events not getting the attention they deserve in order to understand trends in world history.
“Although [timeglobe] owes a great deal to Wikipedia and DBpedia, and we both love these as sources of information, it does also highlight visually the biases in the knowledge of those who create English language internet content. Perhaps the clearest example is looking at around 1850-1870. There are hundreds and hundreds of events for the American Civil War while the Taiping Rebellion in China – one of the most deadly conflicts in the entirety of human history – has a mere handful and there are many other examples, especially as one goes further back in time.”
See history in all its proper glory at timeglo.be