The Wikimedia Projects have started a process yielding a vast body of accessible knowledges in congruent platforms. Information and knowledges structured, collated and codified in an intelligible fashion that is clear and reportable. Meta-catalogues unifying Wikimedia Projects are of value and are going to be increasingly important. The WikiChrono Project is such a meta-catalogue with a chronological focus for given cultural artifacts with a suite of functionality that lends itself to being a Wikimedia Project in its own right.
Preamble – why do we need WikiChrono?
People researching information often need to look at the time periods of different chronologies. For anthropological and historical analysis and the charting of trends, chronologies often require comparison. Historians employ chronologies often and conventional chronologies present many challenges. In most cases the challenge arises because the researcher cannot find appropriately detailed chronologies codified using the same principles. WikiChrono may help to solve those challenges.
In this project we could systematically organize the chronological knowledge which relates to the given requirements of the user. This sorting could be a cataloguing portal as well as apply as a filter of information in function. Efficient on database querying and extraction. The user could choose as much information, designating their parameters as their specific case requires. It would then be possible to compare different chronologies (eg. It is very interesting, for example, to compare the chronology of a famous city with another city or state). Reports could then be written to automate this comparison which would be very useful.
WikiChrono may also provide a very valuable auspice entrypoint or metaportal into knowledges embedded in time, their continua and the comparison and juxtaposition of knowledges at particular points in time. This might provide a very valuable auspice catalogue unifying the various Wikimedia Projects. WikiChrono may provide a valuable filter for the incredibly vast historical and contextual knowledges Wikimedia Projects are going to amass.
The challenges of conventional chronologies
The problems of conventional chronologies can be classified into two main areas:
- 1. Historically, most chronologies are written so that they cannot be compared with other chronologies. Most of the chronologies are dedicated to a singular topic, for example, the history of USA, or the history of Physics, and because they are written on paper they are not easily modified. Once they are published they cannot be easily amended, so it is almost impossible to change them. Extending the examples given, it is currently near impossible to view the history of USA and physics within the same temporal continuum or compare given embedded continua within these cultural artifacts.
- 2. Historically, most chronologies are not fashioned to be compared. They are not detailed in a similar way, and they are often specified in a widely divergent manner.
WikiChrono could help to find the solution for these problems.
Experiences – History, educational CD-s II for Hungarian pupils in Voivodina (Történelem, Vajdasági magyar oktató CD-k 2)
I would like to say at this point, that I undertook a project in 2002 similar to the one I am now suggesting. In that project a mathematician and a computer professional were involved, but unfortunately the project did not reach a lot of people, because it was directed to Hungarian school pupils in Serbia, and the aim was to help children to compare and understand more easily both the history of the Hungarians and the Serbs. (If you are interested to see this project I can send you a copy on CD.)
The Way To Proceed
In the WikiChrono project we could catalogue and amass different chronologies (of states, cities, towns, provinces, churches, social phenomena, cultural artifacts, arts, sciences, biographies, and all the areas which lend themselves to a chronological analysis). Hence, WikiChrono marks the continuum and dynamic evolution of a given phenomenon or cultural artifact.
It ought not be difficult to augment a Mediawiki program which could organise different chronologies in a way in which they could be standardized to aid comparison and reporting. The different chronologies could be depicted, extracted or reported in windows side by side in such a way that the chronological order and the span of time could be synchronised, manipulated or offset. In that way chronologies could be made responsive and workable for a number of purposes.
Concerning the second main problem of chronological analysis, the details, the solution is as follows. Each item of chronological data could have a mark of importance. Every state, science, city or town, art, phenomenon or cultural artifact has its own significant turning point. Those events could be ranked in importance for ease of reportage and display. For example, events of lesser importance could be marked 2, 3 and so on. That would build a systematic structure in which the data with its mark could define the specific aspect of the chronology. The user could choose to select data with one, one and two, or, one, two and three marks of importance. Importantly, there may be other workable ranking or flagging systems that incorporate complexity of reporting and multiple ranks and values for a given cultural artifact according to changing criteria.
Benefits of this strategic initiative
- The chronologies published as a particular Wikimedia Project could help categorize knowledges and systems of knowledges embedded in, and through, time. Assisting many disciplines and comparative disciplines understand congruence of chronologies for different cultural artifacts as well as identifying nonconforming and disparate processes of history, supporting the researcher to engage histories and knowledges in whatever depth is required for a given project. (The CD mentioned has organised data about Hungarian and Serbian history, but at that time we were not able to build a huge database which is now possible using Mediawiki architecture).
- In this project it could be possible to open more than two windows, so we could look at three or more parallel chronologies, and we could compare whether they are states, cities, or whatever cultural artifact could be classified chronologically.
- The user would have the freedom to choose how much data they would like to be reported and how detailed the chronology they require. So the user could access different chronologies for similar, related or divergent topics.
- All of the data for different chronologies could be arranged together, and then it should be possible to produce a very detailed systemic chronology for a given purpose. For example a systemic chronology codifying all cultural artifacts of cultures that encounter the node of dramatic theatre and reporting this as metatext pointing to Wikimedia Project articles specifically.
- In a chronological item of information we could put hypertext links, which could lead the user into onther Wiki projects like pictures, maps, sources, terms, studies). In a chronological footnote there could be wiki icons which would assist the user to discover other related aspects of interest.
WikiChrono may also provide a very valuable auspice entrypoint or metaportal into the sum of knowledges embedded in time, their continua and the comparison and juxtaposition of knowledges at particular points in time. This might provide a very valuable auspice catalogue unifying the various Wikimedia Projects. WikiChrono may provide a valuable filter for the incredibly vast historical and contextual knowledges Wikimedia Projects are going to amass.
Read the hungarian text of proposal: http://hu.wikipedia.org/wiki/Szerkeszt%C5%91:Mzolta#WikiChrono_project_magyarul
Want to work on this proposal?
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