Emergent Time timeline tool
Emergent Time is a prototype collaboration tool for humanists and social scientists working with interpretive narratives. Individual timelines represent the author’s reading of a series of events, each of which might be interpreted differently in other timelines. The tool thus balances personal expression and argument (in timelines) with collaboration and shared work (on events). In a given timeline, one can read horizontally to follow the narrative argument, or depth-wise to jump to different timelines that interpret a given event from other perspectives.
The prototype encourages readers to add source critique comments and to propose alternate versions of events, sparking general discussion about whether a given interpretation is well- supported by the primary sources cited. Generally, authors link to the version of an event that is best substantiated factually, passing over those with little evidentiary support or poor descriptions. Using an event in one’s own timeline constitutes both a signal of interest in the historical incident, and a vote of confidence in the event author’s scholarship.
The collaboration workflow thus serves as a macrocosm of the scholarly publication process, allowing authors and readers to evaluate evidence in support for a given interpretation and “vote with their feet” by citing it rather than another in their own work. Based on the resulting network of citation links, the prototype generates overview timelines that indicate the most important events for a given search topic. These overview timelines trace an outline of the community’s normative interpretation at a given moment.