Saturday, May 23, 2009

First Look at - Post 1

I've been watching the web site (part of the company) add content gradually over the past few months, and now they are broadcasting some of their information to the world on Twitter and Facebook, so I thought that I would post some screen views of the web site.

The "About Us" page says in part):

"What is History? Sounds like a silly question. Think about it. History is comprised of events, people, places, and the sources that tell us the story. Each and every event in history involved a place or multiple places, impacted people directly and indirectly, and took place in a certain moment in time. There are a lot of dots to connect, and we connect those dots. More importantly, we connect you to those dots, we connect you to history."


"...The battle of Gettysburg took place at a certain place and time. We know the famous names associated with the event, but what has often been ignored in history are all the people who made the event possible. We know about General Pickett's charge, but without the confederate soldiers who gave their lives for that charge, what would it be? Should the foot soldier be remembered like the generals? We think so. They are part of the story. Without their story, and unless we connect those dots, it is an incomplete book. WorldHistory allows you to connect people to people, people to events, and your ancestors to events."

From the start, this web site has sounded very ambitious to me, and it will be a very useful site when it has matured. Here is the current home page:

There are eight links to other pages across the top (below the logo and search box). There are three feature boxes near the bottom of the page - to obtain a Timeline of world history for a specific year, to Explore your world using interactive maps, and to Upload your family tree and connect your ancestors to history. We'll look at those in a later post.

In the middle of the page are a timeline for a specific year which lists historical events around a given year (apparently fairly random each time you come to the home page) and an invitation to sign up for a free account on the web site. You have to sign up in order to upload your family tree data.

The first link across the top is to "Map," and when I clicked on it, this screen appeared:

It opened on San Diego where I live (the site must sense where I live, even though I'm not logged into the site), and had some names and places on the left margin and some stick-pins on the map. If you click on the stick-pin, you can see the event or person that it depicts.

The map is powered by Google Maps, and there is a timeline across the top of it. If you click on a year in the Timeline, you can see specific events and people that are depicted on the map. Of course, you can click on the event or person to see the details about them on the site.

Next, I clicked on the "People" link, and the "People in History" page opened:

The list of people shown are "famous people" for all of history, ranked apparently by the frequency of searches on the site. There is a cloud of People Tags on the right margin where you can select specific groups like Artists, African-Americans, Politicians, etc. Another alternative would be to click on a year in the Timeline and see people that lived in that year that are in the database.

There is a Search field above the Timeline, and the user can select from "Famous People" or "Ancestor Data." The "Ancestor Data" seems to be empty right now. The user can select to use or not use the Timeline.

The next link at the top of the page is "Events" which is shown below:

The "Events" page works similarly to the "People" page - the user can enter a term in the Search field or click on a year on the Timeline, and can select from the Event cloud on the right of the screen.

The fourth link at the top of the page goes to the "Artifact" page - and the setup is similar to the "Events" page - a Search field and a Timeline at the top and a list of "Artifact Options" on the right:

The "Timeline" link at the top leads to a page with user-defined Timelines, a Search box at the top and a list of categories on the left side of the screen:

The "Ancestors" link at the top of the page leads to a Sign Up page because I was not logged into the site. If you sign up, then you can upload your family tree database. The site will Geocode your place names so that they can be shown on the map:

We will explore the "Ancestors" link in later posts.

The seventh link at the top is to "Popular" Events or People. The Events are ranked for the current day and the current week:

The eighth link at the top of the page is to "More" which lists things that the World History people would like to add to their web site:

I have worked with this site for awhile now, trying all of the links and the bells and whistles. My impression is that it is very well thought out and navigation is intuitive and easy to learn. It works pretty fast on everything but the "Ancestors" page. My impression is that the "Ancestors" page is not yet fully functional. is probably not quite ready for prime time use yet, but it is getting to the point where everything works. I will write future posts when a family tree can be uploaded and exercised.

I think that has a winner here. I wonder when it will be available for everyone to upload a GEDCOM and work with it as a research tool?

1 comment:

Geolover said...

Your post nudged me to revisit the site. It has been somewhat revamped to depend on googlemaps.

Googlemaps is very hampered by lack of historical mapping, by inability to show outlines of Counties, Townships, Towns (e.g. of New England type), Shires, Hundreds, etc.

The site appears to be waiting for user input of historical events in specific locales.

If I want a historical map relating to events there in a given period, this is not my site. I will not have a lot of interest in others' ancestors who were born or married or died there, and the googlemap images will quickly become crowded with the doughboy images for each person.

In one locale I'd want to know about the flood of 1804, the encampment at Ft. Pitt prefatory to Dunmore's War in 1774, the 1761 settlement of Christopher Gist's party at behest of the Ohio Company, the 1754 battle at Great Meadows and the two ensuing campaigns . . . . not to mention the history of County formation in the region.