Learning science isn’t just about doing experiments or memorizing periodic tables.  Timelines are a great way to help students understand the history of scientific thought and the people who’ve contributed to this over time.

Some lesson plans for science classes that you might find helpful:

The Five Biggest Ideas in Science
The Art of Teaching Science
Evolutionary history
Dinosaur discoveries

For younger students, check out this lesson plan for learning lifecycles.

There are also some great science timelines on xtimeline:  Medical Discoveries timeline, Astronomy timeline, and others in the Scientists group.

There’s a lot going on these days in the world. Price of oil is going down. Many references are made to the Great Depression given the general instability of the stock market and the gloomy outlook for our economy. There’s a lot of speculation in the media that President-elect Barack Obama may nominate Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton as the Secretary of State. The high profile discussions also have to do with former president Bill Clinton and his relationships and work through his foundation.

The timelines may not tell you everything you want to know, but they’re a good start. I’ve found it helpful to get some of the historical and biographical context.


Exploring timelines and timeline groups

As the number of timelines on our site increases, there are more interesting timelines, but finding what you want has gotten harder. In general you can explore timelines using:

1. Search – enter a keyword for the timeline you’re interested in
2. Browse – featured timelines, most viewed, most recent, etc.
3. Categories – six main categories
4. Tags – keywords that are associated with the timeline

However, one thing we realized is that all of these methods above have their respective weaknesses — most importantly they lack a human touch. What was missing was a way for users to categorize timelines and organize the data in different ways.

We have added two other ways for social discovery:
1) Groups – arrange timelines based on the group’s interests or common themes
2) Fans of – social bookmark timeline creators you like

1) Groups function – Unlike wikipedia, there are multiple copies of the same topic on xtimeline. Sometimes these are created intentionally for an assignment, in which case creating a Group for all of them allows teachers and students to easily see each other’s timelines. The class can also use the Group for a discussion about each student’s individual findings or about the topic they’re researching.

In other cases, Groups allows moderators and members to share timelines they like the most and that might interest other members based on their similar interests or themes.

We hope that the changes in Groups helps you find and participate in interesting timelines and discussions. Here are few of our favorites: authors, celebrities, China, web 2.0.

2) Fans – We changed what we originally called “Friends” into “Fans of”. This change allows you to follow the work of timeline creators or commenters that you find interesting. All of this information is collected on the Profile page which allows your fans to get to know you better. They can see the timelines you created and ones you liked, the timeline creators you’re a fan of, and the groups you belong to. (Note: Anyone in your “Friends” list has been turned into mutual fans of – you’re a fan of the friend and vice versa.).

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the changes, or any ideas for additional improvements.

The xtimeline team

It’s been our goal to make it easy to collaboratively create a timeline because we know creating an interesting timeline takes a lot of work.

Our attempts to make our timelines collaborative have evolved:

* At our launch last year in July, users could allow their “friends” to edit their timelines. However, we found that being friends on xtimeline didn’t necessarily equate with wanting to grant someone editing privileges. In fact, it almost became a disincentive to add on people you didn’t know well as friends.

* We then launched the “groups” function as a way of solving that problem. Instead of giving all of your friends access, you could create a smaller group to edit timelines. However, this was problematic too. Just imagine if you had made a group on US politics and you had timelines for both George W Bush and Hillary Clinton. Would you want the same group having editing rights to both timelines? Imagine even if you had a group for Democrats, could you imagine the same group editing both Clinton and Obama? If one Group manages multiple timelines, it’s not clear that you would want all of the group members to have access to all of the timelines. Groups also have other tricky internal management issues.

In the site redesign, we made two changes:

1) Edit History: We created an “edit history” function to track the changes on your timeline. This is similar to the history functions in most wiki-based websites. This is important for recording past changes to your data. You can see who made what changes, and you can quickly revert to a previous version if necessary. We think this function is critical for any sort of collaborative editing.

2) Timeline-based Permission: Editing permissions is now done on a per-timeline basis. Every timeline has a unique list of people who can edit that specific timeline. Viewers of a timeline can also send a request to the creator to become an editor of the timeline. Now it is transparent on every timeline who made what edits.

We hope these changes make collaboration on our site easier, more intuitive, and more transparent. Let us know your feedback in our forums!

The xtimeline team

US Presidential Election 2008 Candidate Timelines

As we created more biographical timelines about the 2008 election candidates, we thought it would be worthwhile to show all of these candidates on one page.


So far we have timelines for:
Hillary Clinton
John Edwards
Al Gore (unofficial)
Barack Obama

Rudy Giuliani
John McCain
Ron Paul
Mitt Romney
Fred Thompson

We’re still missing a bunch of candidates so if you want to create one, let us know and we’ll put it up.

As ever, if you want to discuss any of these timelines (corrections and additions), please post in our forum or contact us directly using the feedback button.

Finally, if you have ideas for other timeline sets, please let us know!

The xtimeline team

PS: We’ll have more functionality ready soon. Stay tuned…

We’ve been pleasantly surprised with how many of our users come from all over the world. Only 2/3 of our users are from English-speaking countries, which is amazing considering the site is only available in English and Chinese.

We want to offer our non-English users a better experience by expanding the number of languages that we support. This is where we’d really like your help. The few minutes you spend translating will help bring xtimeline to users that speak your language.

Please look at our translation wiki.

You can also get to the translation wiki from our footer.

Thanks so much in advance. And please email us to let us know that you contributed so we can recognize you properly! We’ll be keeping track of all the people who helped make xtimeline better.

Once again, we’re still working on some exciting functionality that we plan to release soon. Specifically, we’re completely revamping our timeline widget and developing functionality for group-based editing.

Stay tuned!

The xtimeline team

New Feature: RSS Upload — import your blog into a timeline

We’re excited to announce you can now import RSS feeds! Upload your favorite blogs or newsfeeds into a timeline. Creating a timeline this way takes only seconds.


Here are some examples of blogs:

Boing Boing: A Directory of Wonderful Things

Mashable: Social software and social networking 2.0.

Event descriptions now suport full HTML code. You can now add hyperlinks, pictures, formatting codes, and more. Here’s an example of a RSS entry that has pictures and HTML formatting.

We make money not art: Interview with Adriana Salazar

If you need help with RSS onto the website, please check out our help page.

We also wanted to thank everyone for all the feedback. We’ll have even more changes soon. We’re working on a major improvement on the timeline widget, Asian language support, data exporting and more. Please check the site for updates and keep the suggestions coming!


Lauren and Kevin

We can’t say how surprised we were to see xtimeline get picked up by blogs, educators, and the web 2.0 community (we’ll post the links soon in another entry). We hope that you’ll always be able to visit, and find new and interesting timelines.

One of the best things about the past few days has been watching people create new timelines. While many people are just testing the system out, there are already a few timelines that we think are going to be great.

Web Browser History
A History of Jazz Albums
La Vida de Carl Jung

In the meantime, please continue creating timelines, and send us your comments and suggestions! We’ll do our best to take your requests and continue with improving the site and widget.

Thanks for everyone’s support!

Lauren and Kevin

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