I have always been fascinated by history, and one of the best tools I’ve found for understanding history is the timeline. Timelines give you a chronology, concretely placing certain events before others so a cause-and-effect relationship can be established.
There should be a “master timeline” on the Internet, sort of like how Wikipedia has become a “master encyclopedia”, or how Google has become a “master search”. The master timeline should be the place people think of first when they think “timeline”.
Ideally, the master timeline should be entirely crowd-sourced. This means that anyone on the Internet can add their own events to the timeline. In order to maintain integrity in this type of system, lessons should be taken from established crowd-sourced sites like Wikipedia, Digg, or Facebook.
Users should be allowed to rate the significance of events. This should be a simple process, like the thumbs up/thumbs down approach of Digg. Events with lots of “thumbs up” popular support are shown in the timeline as significant events. Events with a lot of “thumbs down” are effectively buried.
Buried events might not show up on the timeline at all, similar to how Facebook shows only stories that it thinks you want to read. Users should be able to adjust the granularity of the timelines they view, meaning that if they want to see all events no matter how insignificant, they should be able to.
The timeline should also be highly visual. There should be a way to upload pictures to depict history.
Each year, or perhaps even each day in history should have its own page.
Each event needs to have certain metadata attached. Each event needs an exact date, a deviation (such as ±5 years), and a location.
Users should be able to search to create custom timelines. For example, a user should be able to search “nuclear weapons india” to show a timeline of nuclear weapons development in India.
Users should be able to customize and save generated timelines for use on their own websites or blogs.
Do you know of any timeline generators out there? Let me know in the comments