The latest project from Microsoft Research entered beta today. It’s called ChronoZoom. It seems to use the same technology as the previous Microsoft Research project SeaDragon which allows you to embed high resolution images on the web and then zoom in or out to see the detail or the scale, respectively. This time, instead of zooming in on an image, you’re zooming in on history.
The ChronoZoom project is one big timeline. You can browse it with your mouse, dragging around to navigate and using the scroll wheel to zoom in or out. Like any good timeline, ChronoZoom gives you context. As you zoom into more specific timelines and events you receive more details. You start out on the scale of the cosmos but then you can zoom in further and further until you get to today. You can see details about World War II, the industrial revolution, the history of the Internet, recent US Presidents, or recent history of several other countries.
By zooming in, you realize how small everything is in context of the greater time that has already passed. Check out ChronoZoom for an interesting experience. The potential is outstanding as more information gets added to ChronoZoom. As the Microsoft Research Connections blog puts it:
In so doing, ChronoZoom emerges as a potentially vital tool in the evolving field of Big History, which attempts to unify the past—all of the past, from the beginning of time, some 13.7 billion years ago, to the present—through the four major regimes: cosmic history, Earth history, life history, and human history. Big History offers a broad understanding of how the past has unfolded, and it lets us explore the unifying characteristics that can bridge the intellectual chasm between the humanities and the sciences.
Check it out for yourself at www.chronozoomproject.org