Selected Timeline Tools:

1. MyHistro

Refer to link: http://www.myhistro.com/

Introduction: MyHistro is a geo-located interactive timeline with a social twist. Allowing the combination of maps and timelines, text, videos, and pictures can be added as well to create a dynamic timeline mashup. Timelines created can then be exported to a pdf file, or export into Google Earth format for offline storage, or embedded to websites for increased exposure.

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What kind of visualizations can this tool produce?

MyHistro is able to create timelines embedded with text, video and pictures to create a compelling story. It is able to also combine maps and timelines into one presentation that can be saved into a PDF format. In short, myHistro combines timelines, photos, videos and blogs to create memories and tell stories. It helps to visualize the three dimensions of a story: where, when and how. Various applications can be not just for personal usage, but also for educational purposes if teachers want to engage the tool for a more in-depth exploration of a certain topic.

How are this tool’s visualization capabilities distinct from the capabilities of other tools you’re considering for your project?

This tool allows the mapping of images to show the location in which a specific event takes place. The ‘co-authoring’, ‘people in this event’, ‘I was here too’ and ‘follow the story’ features all helped to build on the sociality and inter-connectivity of the tool. This could actually be a suitable tool for my final project by allowing a more elaborate story to be told. For instance, considering how most famous Instagrammers have been travelling around and not just posting pictures based in just Singapore, it will be interesting to post a timeline illustrating a “pre-famous” to “famous” period and see how the different visuals posted possess any difference.

What kinds of questions might this tool help us answer about our data?

Considering the application is able to map pictures to geographical information, metadata can be visualized on the Google maps instead of a simply location tag when we look at picture details. Questions that are able to be answered include:

  1. What is the movement pattern?
  2. How has the place changed over the years?
  3. How is culture different across different places?

In what format does this tool accept data?

MyHistro allows the importing of data from other websites in addition to the text/pictures/videos. As it is still focused on content creation, it does not allow the automatic transfer of other data from existing social networks just yet.

What would we need to do to our data in order to allow the tool to make use of it?

As mentioned, since myHistro is very much focused on content creation, users will just need to upload their data and create their own timeline on the application.

How difficult will this tool be to master?

I do not think this tool will be difficult to master. It seems almost similar like a social blogging platform to tell their own stories.

Will you need an outside expert to help us master this tool? If so, what kind of expert?

I don’t think there is a need to engage any outside expert for this.

Taking into account the time needed to manipulate our data as well as the time needed to master the tool, could we produce a visualization with this tool in the time available to us?

Yes, for sure.

How do you think you can use this tool for a project?

I can make use of myHistro as a social tool to illustrate the timeline of a particular user and compare it with the other famous Instagrammers. I will be able to spot trends like “when this this particular user start gaining fame” or “which was the peak of this Instagrammer’s career” and so on. Not only that, if the Instagrammers I am analysing are travelling around, it will clearly show the changes in visual characteristics for the pictures mapped in different places. The difference in editing style may also change as time goes by.

2. TimelineJS

Refer to link: https://timeline.knightlab.com/

Introduction: TimelineJS is an open-source tool that enables anyone to build visually rich, interactive timelines. It allows timelines to be embedded into any local website, supports multimedia functionality, including social media posts, articles, and video. It is an easy to use platform by using an uploaded Google Spreadsheet (for basic users). Embed codes can be used on any website in any format: PC, tablet, and mobile. Even though the pros include the nice-looking (and easy) user interface, and supports Google API, the cons are that only Google spreadsheets are allowed and there is a slight lag time in loading real time features (e.g. tweets).

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What kind of visualizations can this tool produce?

TimelineJS can be used to visualize any chronological progression in an interactive and informative way. Since it supports multimedia usage, it can also be used to show videos, text, pictures and even live social media feeds. Refer to the Mandela example shown above.

How are this tool’s visualization capabilities distinct from the capabilities of other tools you’re considering for your project?

Similar to myHistro, this tool serves to show the chronological progression of a certain issue and illustrate the events that happened along a specific time period and/or place. Considering the problem statement, I will like to explore deeper into is with regards to the varying visual characteristics posted at different timing and/or place, this could be a suitable tool to illustrate that instead of image analysis application. However, one drawback though will be the lack of functions to compare the visual design properties of the pictures posted. This application is also superior because it allows the embedding of social media platforms that allow for real-time commentary.

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What kinds of questions might this tool help us answer about our data?

This tool can help to describe the events that occurred (or when it is happening with the live social media function) before another event, leading up to it, causing it, and also those that occurred right afterwards that were attributable to it.

In what format does this tool accept data?

This tool accepts data from a Google spreadsheet for basic users. Hence, the minimum requirement will be to have a Google Drive account for basic use. Advanced users can create timelines from JSON objects. TimelineJS is also great for pulling media from different sources. Users will just have to embed a link from Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Vimeo, Google Maps and/or SoundCloud and the tool will format it to fit perfectly.

What would we need to do to our data in order to allow the tool to make use of it?

We will have to import and organize our data into a Google spreadsheet before uploading onto TimelineJS. It is relatively simple as users will just have to publish the data by embedding the Google link. We will first need to download the TimelineJS Google Spreadsheet template, input the data on it, make the spreadsheet public, publish to the web to generate the URL to embed in the HTML file. After all that is done, we can just easily copy/paste the web URL into the TimelineJS HTML file.

For advanced users on the other hand, data can be loaded in the form of JSON objects. There are also a variety of customization options available. For details on how to configure and customise a timeline, you may refer to this link: https://github.com/NUKnightLab/TimelineJS#config-options and/or https://www.gadgetdaily.xyz/compile-your-own-kernel-tutorial/.

How difficult will this tool be to master?

There is a range of difficulty for this tool. For basic users, this tool is very simple and flexible – users can churn out a timeline in a matter of minutes since creating one is as easy as filling in a Google spreadsheet. For advanced users on the other hand, there will be a need to know how to code JSON. This means knowledge on coding on Javascript and/or CSS system will be required.

Will you need an outside expert to help us master this tool? If so, what kind of expert?

For basic use, there is no need for an outside expert. Unless there is requirement for customization, which in the case, a programmer who has knowledge on Javascript and/or CSS will be needed as coding is necessary to load the files, embed to web and configuring of the time line.

Taking into account the time needed to manipulate our data as well as the time needed to master the tool, could we produce a visualization with this tool in the time available to us?

Considering how for the final project there will be a need to  customize in order to tell a compelling story according to the narrative we have composed, I will say advanced usage of the application is necessary however there is insufficient time to learn how to code before the submission date.

How do you think you can use this tool for a project?

I can use this tool to showcase a few handpicked Instagrammers of a specific genre and compare their timelines in terms of when did they become popular and which photo was their pivot. Additionally, I can use this tool to showcase their captions and/or stories and see live commentary whenever they post a new picture to compare the statistics and engagement level.

3. Neatline

Refer to link: http://neatline.org/demos/

Introduction: Neatline is a geotemporal exhibit-builder – essentially a tool that is able to create interactive editions of visual materials that include maps, paintings, photographs and so on. It allows users to include complex maps, image annotations and narrative sequences to allow them to be connected with a timeline that are usually ambiguous and complicated for readers to understand. It is usually expressed in terms of a single document or a whole archival or cultural heritage collection.

What kind of visualizations can this tool produce?

This tool can produce interactive stories that can be in a form of a single document, whole archival or cultural heritage collection. Series of sample visualizations can be referred to here: http://neatline.org/demos/. They are not limited to map-based visualizations (look at the Map tiles by Stamen Design; it is made up of a collection of letters).

How are this tool’s visualization capabilities distinct from the capabilities of other tools you’re considering for your project?

This tool enables the input of large collections of data into an exhibit. There are also multiple plugins available like NeatlineText (that connects words in Neatline exhibit), NeatlineSimile (that allows the addition of timeline widget), and NeatlineWaypoints (that allows users to be guided in a linear sequence).

What kinds of questions might this tool help us answer about our data?

This tool presents geospatial information as a collection of “records” plotted on a map, which can be connected into interactive exhibits to tell compelling stories and make arguments.

In what format does this tool accept data?

This tool accepts data in various forms like: georeferenced historical maps, manuscripts, high-resolution photographs and so on. They can be from an existing collection or users can create a new digital archive themselves. For plotting of information on the maps, the tool accepts “.jpg” files.

What would we need to do to our data in order to allow the tool to make use of it?

Users can input their data onto a base layer – selecting from either street map, or Google Streets/Phical/Hybrid/Satellite, Stamen Watercolor/Toner/Terrain. Choosing the base layer is crucial because it can tell a different narrative if chosen incorrectly. For instance, if the narrative is based on a current analysis of space, using the modern maps available will be more appropriate than using historical maps. Users will then need to plot their data on the maps while also adding visuals to direct the audience’s movement through the exhibit, telling a narrative along the way.

How difficult will this tool be to master?

This tool is designed for scholars, archivists, journalists and students. The range of difficult level through the provision of a flexible set of tools that can be adapted to meet the needs of a wide range of digital mapping projects. The plugin features extensive customization options, allowing creators to design a wide variety of user experiences. Examples include free form interactions, user-direction interactions, quasi-cinematic, and heavily mediated narratives. That being said for these customization to take place, it will be more difficult for the tool to be mastered. However, there are existing video tutorials to teach users and information provided on the installation, configuration and on the various technical aspects.

Will you need an outside expert to help us master this tool? If so, what kind of expert?

No, I don’t think so. The current tutorials available online should be sufficient enough unless customization options are required.

Taking into account the time needed to manipulate our data as well as the time needed to master the tool, could we produce a visualization with this tool in the time available to us?

No, if there will be a high level of customization

How do you think you can use this tool for a project?

This tool can be used to present collections of data and work together to illustrate any space and/or time-based narratives. An example could be the statistics of immigrants and/or foreigners entering Singapore since independence (and/or before independence). Movement patterns can also be analysed by including information of Singaporeans leaving the country. Such information can be used to see how Singapore is increasingly becoming a ‘melting pot’ and how the issue of xenophobia is increasingly becoming important.

 

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