TimelineJS offers a simple and straightforward platform for users to create interactive timelines online. In this project, TimelineJS was used to create a timeline of 7 maps that defined the course of world history. The purpose of the timeline is to highlight the fact that maps provide a subjective view of the world. They are significant artifacts that give us a glimpse into the past and the way different cultures have made sense of the world at different moments in time. The goal of this project is to demonstrate how perceptions of the world have differed and evolved in time. I researched 7 maps from the early age to the modern era, in attempt to outline the most distinct and pivotal periods in human history. I then analyzed the cultural significance of each map, and detailed how each one related or transitioned to the next.
TimelineJS gives users a chance to build visual and interactive timelines with open-source (http://timeline.knightlab.com/#preview-embed). This easy-to-use platform can be picked up and employed in just 4 simple steps. The first step to get the timeline up-and-going is to create a Google Spreadsheet. Once the spreadsheet is completed with relevant dates, text and media, the user simply clicks the menu option “Publish to the Web.” Once the spreadsheet is published, the url of the spreadsheet can be copied and pasted into the TimelineJS url generator, which offers a link or embed code to share.
TimelineJS has been featured on many news sites and blogs, like TIME and CNN. One of its most practical and attractive features is its ability to pull media from a variety of sources. With just a link, users can can showcase maps from Google Maps, videos from YouTube, tweets from Twitter, and Documents from Document Cloud. Without the visual media, it would take longer to grasp the narrative of the timeline, especially since the font, composition, and orientation is the same template to many other timelines created on TimelineJS. In my maps timeline, a variety of images were uploaded to accompany the text. I found that still images were most effective in detailing the materiality and communicating the message behind each map. In hindsight, I think it would be useful to make the images more interactive and dynamic. That way, users can zoom into the maps to see the details that inform the meaning communicated in the text. For example, it is difficult to see the biblical figures in Hereford’s Mappa Mundi, and the way they orient the map based on space rather than time.
For anyone who wants a straightforward and interactive timeline to recount a large narrative, TimelineJS is the perfect tool. For experts looking to customize their timelines, TimelineJS also offers custom installations. But these custom options are only suited for CSS experts who know how to use style tags to override TimelineJS’s CSS rules. I would prefer a simple clickable option for stylistic changes as simple as breaking a paragraph or bolding a word or citing text. Nonetheless, if I had more time, I would try to change the initial zoom level of my timeline so that the span of events could fit within the timeline without the need to scroll right. Additionally, I would spend more time researching fonts and colors that best represent the subject of my timeline. Perhaps a historical font like Almendra or League Gothic would better fit with the survey of historical maps.