Monday, May 30, 2016

Mapping the History of the World


Hoagy Cunningham and Misha Wagner recently decided to map the entire history of the world. The result of this ambitious undertaking is Timeglo.be, a d3.js powered interactive globe plotting the location of over 20,000 events across the whole of recorded history.

Timeglo.be uses data from Wikipedia and DBpedia to show historical events on an interactive 3d globe. The map provides a global overview of any chosen time period, giving a really interesting cross section of world history at any given point in time. You can search for events by date and by key words and then follow the links provided to view more detailed information on Wikipedia.

Timeglo.be also serves as a visual presentation of Wikipedia’s biases and the overall bias in English language content generation. For example, comparing the USA and China from 1850 to 1870, brings up the U.S. Civil War and the Taiping Rebellion. However there are literally hundreds of times more Wikipedia entries for the U.S. Civil War than there are for the Taiping Rebellion.


Chronas is another interactive map which maps Wikipedia data to provide a view of historical events across the globe.

Chronas not only maps historical events but also provides a mapped overview of country boundaries for any given date. If you select a year from the time slider, running along the bottom of the map, the map will update to show how the world looked at the chosen time.

If you then click on a country or geographical area on the map a Wikipedia article on the selected historical region will open in the map sidebar. For example, if you select the year 573 AD from the time slider, you can select the Visigoths region on the map to learn more about these nomadic tribes.


Of course it isn't only country boundaries which have changed over the history of the Earth. The planet has also physically changed since the dawn of time. This interactive 3d globe from Dinosaur Pictures travels back 600 million years to the dawn of multi-cellular life on Earth and shows how planet Earth has physically evolved throughout its history.

What Did the World Look Like actually presents a 3d globe which shows how the Earth looked at any period in its history. The site includes two menus, which allow you to change the era visualized on the interactive 3d globe. The menu at the top of the page allows you to select an era by age and the menu at the top right allows you to select a view based on the stages of life on Earth and by geologic period.
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