As I said in my last blog post, I wanted to look into ways to more rigorously deal with time and space with my digital project. There are several good timeline tools out there, timemap perhaps being the closest to what I want, but none of them display the temporal component in a way that I find to be particularly compelling. Similar to timemap, my tool would allow users to input information via datasets in a timeline which would then populate a map, but unlike timemap, which shows the current range of the timeline visibly on the map, my proposed tool would animate the timeline and map together to showcase the timeline in real-time. What this means is that an educator or student looking at the video output would be able to see coterminous events occurring simultaneously, and would not have to see events that span a period of time as though they happened contemporaneously with each other. Unlike traditional analog maps, the time element showcased within this tool’s output would actually follow the time continuum set forth by the user (a year might take a second, a minute, or ten minutes – entirely contingent upon the user’s desire based on what she or he is looking at). It is also imperative that the tool not be limited to having to have longitudinal and latitudinal information, because for scholars/students/educators that are not looking at specific places, but instead at regions and large scale movements (such as cultural transmission, warfare, migration, disease outbreaks, etc.), loci of impact may not be as important as the subsequent zone of impact and in how the movements spread over time (of course, the longitudinal and latitudinal elements would remain available, so those loci could still be charted).
I envision the tool as being either standalone or web based – I’m open to suggestions as both have positives and negatives. In either instance there would be the possibility for uploading findings and maps to a website database. I’m unsure if the best practice for vetting submissions would be through moderating them or in allowing reviews of each map’s relative usefulness. Both come with some problems – it seems impossible to have peer review capability of all fields that might use this tool on hand in house to genuinely moderate incoming submissions, but allowing the denizens of the internet to engage in a review process doesn’t sound too compelling either (we’ve all been privy to comment sections before). A potential answer to reviews is to only allow people logged in with authentic .edu emails to make commentary, but that might alienate people who are not at educational institutions for any of a number of potential reasons. Again, I would be open to suggestions here.
I see a lot of applicability here in what scholars, students, and educators can use the tool for across a wide range of fields but because I’m trying to conceptualize such a big project I’m sure that I’m missing some critical components that might make the project more viable or that might impede it from being viable at all. I’m hoping that everyone will be able to give me some things to look for or advice on implementation.