DHC Weekly 10/24: Timelines!

Hello Digital Humanists! Today, I wanted to show you how to use TimelineJS and the importance of taking time with timelines (haha).

In response to the Kashmir event held in September, I decided to embark on a project, documented enforced disappearances over the past fifty years, easy right?

Actually… not easy.

The project is far from finished. Almost a month later and I’ve only reached 1999. This is a reflection of a handful of things. This week, I’m talking about process.

TimelineJS is fairly straightforward, but it does require you to pay attention to what media you want to use and how you want everything to look.

For those not already familiar with TimelineJS. TimelineJS is an open-source tool for people to create multimedia timelines. It is free to use and, once you get a hang of it, really flexible as to what you can do.

Unlike other platforms, however, what you can do isn’t entirely obvious when you look at the back end. All information for a timeline comes from an already-formatted excel sheet. This means you don’t have to mess with the javascript, but it also means you need to edit an excel sheet instead of editing visually like you can on other sites.

A snippet from the timeline I am working on.

Editing this way helps us understand where images come from and how they work on the internet. You cannot upload files directly to a timeline. Instead, you need to link media from other places. You can use media hosting websites to accomplish this if the image is yours. If the image isn’t yours, you should be linking it anyways, and giving credit to who owns the image.

This is one of the reasons you need to allow yourself enough time to create something in TimelineJS. You have to find images and give credit to them. Not only this, but any information you get for a timeline from outside sources also should be noted.

To get this pre-formatted excel sheet. Visit the TimelineJS Website. When you get there, you’ll see this:

Clicking “Get the Spreadsheet Template will make a copy of the spreadsheet in Google Sheets. After that, you can start putting in information!

From there, you can follow the directions on the website, which do a great job of explaining the process.

I’m excited to continue using TimelineJS and working more on my enforced disappearances and being able to share this timeline with others. To do that ethically and with integrity, however, it is important to put in the work necessary to properly give credit for each piece of media and information I use. It is equally important to make sure to meditate on which examples of violence are included, doing my best to not recreate violence or reinforce hegemonic structures of historical narratives. And that, my readers, takes time!

See you next week when I’ll go over why timelines require a critical lens!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *