ChronoZoom and Big History
Ars Technica featured a pretty nifty new site, ChronoZoom, that attempts to show the history of everything in an easily explorable format. Several things caught my eye with this site. First, it’s written using HTML 5. I’m really impressed how functional it is given the spotty support of browsers with HTML 5 (although they’re getting better day by day). Second, it’s a pretty nifty way of presenting complex, multimedia information in a reasonably digestible way. The site has a ‘depth’ to it which allows them to collapse complex information into a small area. If you’ve used or seen Prezi then you’ll feel right at home. Try clicking on one of the Thresholds, say the birth of Humanity, and you’ll see the timeline zoom in pretty quick. The whole thing is based upon an approach to history called Big History, which attempts to span large epochs of time, say the Big Bang to modern times, and find common themes. It’s cross disciplinary to find themes in both physical and social sciences. I can’t say that I’ve ever studied Big History as most of my work centers on the extremely tiny tail end of that swath of time, but the idea is pretty intriguing (although I might call it “GINORMOUS History”, but that’s just me).
Play around with ChronoZoom and I think you can see how that basic idea might be used in geographic work.