One of the features we hope to have as part of our digital history project is an interactive timeline. We want our users to be able to use the timeline to explore the stories – none of these static, boring, text-only timelines most of us are familiar with. Browsing the depths of digital exhibits and collections on the web – not to mention history websites – has led us to discover some pretty cool timelines. Here are 3 of our favorites:
For example, Neatline offers the ability to connect your timeline with a map and with documents plotted on that map. Mousing over the documents gives the user the title, and clicking on it brings up a lightbox containing whatever metadata your heart desires: it could be a transcript, a detailed description, or something as basic as a catalog record.
Neatline is a great tool; the problem is that it only plays nicely with Omeka, and it’s unlikely we would have the means necessary to create something from scratch with the same functionality. However, it’s still fun to play around with!
We’ve also been checking out Chronozoom. It has really a nice zoomability feature, and clicking on an event from the timeline zooms in to what reminds me of a Prezi presentation, with several ‘slides’ for each event. We haven’t looked into whether it will work well with Islandora, but this could be an interesting way to present the stories, with each one being its own event on an overall timeline. Some events have videos included, so it’s great knowing we would have that capability.
Finally, there’s also Timeglider. This one also has a nice zooming ability feature, and we like the document thumbnails featured at the top of the timeline. It seems like the events can be categorized, which is an attractive feature; perhaps one color for a story, and one for general, contextual events. Like Neatline, Timeglider also provides a nice little lightbox when clicking a document or a link, but doesn’t seem to have a mouse-over feature. Again, we haven’t looked into how (or if) Timeglider would work with Islandora, but we’re excited to find out.
It’s hard to narrow down our choices in which timelines to explore further; these 3 are just a few that seemed fun, interesting, and engaging. Over the next few months, we’ll be putting more thought into this part of our project. Questions we’ll need to answer include: “What works best for our audience? What’s the best way to integrate/implement a timeline and map into our stories? How big of a feature do we want this to be?” And of course, the most sensible question, “Can we do it?”