Introduction by OpenMethods Editor (Marinella Testori):
Storytellers, journalists, but also researchers dealing with history and related matters, may be in need of displaying a timeline on their webpages so as to clarify a succession of events. Developed at the NorthWestern University Knight Lab in a collaborative context, Timeline JS is a tool specifically targeted at the purpose of building straightforward and captivating chronologies for the web. It has been already applied and tested in various academic projects and workshops (see, for example, Keralis et al. 2021), and it can work on a timeline initially built with the help of simple Google spreadsheets.
The Timeline JS website shows and details the process of publication and generation of the final result, which can be shared wherever it suits (blogs, videos, books, etc). The challenge to which Timeline JS wishes to answer deals intimately with the concept of time: as Pyshkin and Bogdanov (2014, 274) highlight, in fact, “Timelines are more than an attractive and intuitive way to visualize historical information” since they entail the concepts and related applications of information retrieval, graphic visualization, modelling and ontologies.
The same Pyshkin and Bogdanov illustrate the state of the art of timeline tools and layouts (time centered, topic centered and container models, 274-275), so that humanists aiming at working with timelines can compare them; then, they dwell on the main features of tools currently available for implementing timelines – among which the same Timeline JS is listed – with the main focus of application, ranging from teaching and learning history to personal planning (275-278); finally, the authors describe an Android prototype experiment that exploits timelines, advocating in such a way an increasingly more accurate interaction with the advancements in technology (279).
We have no information available on how Timeline JS supports the different conceptualizations of uncertainties in terms of time ( e.g. around 1850). If any of our readers have experiences with this, we highly encourage you to share them!
Keralis SDC, Jacobs CE, Johnson MW. 2021. “Collaborative Digital Projects in the Undergraduate Humanities Classroom: Case Studies with TimelineJS”. The Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy, 19.
Pyshkin E, Bogdanov N. 2014. “Learning History with Timelines: Use Cases, Requirements and Design”. Proceedings of the 2014 Federated Conference on Computer Science and Information Systems, 273–280. https://annals-csis.org/proceedings/2014/pliks/106.pdf
NorthWestern University Knight Lab