In December I took part in the Will’s World hack organised by EDINA. I was involved with the collection of the data and so had a pretty good idea of what the registry contained but it was still challenging to come up with a novel way of exploiting this information. My first thought was to process the marked-up play texts and add links to any relevant content in the registry. This way I’d be using the two main sources of information provided by the project. After the first check-in I decided that there were a lot of people using the marked-up plays and so I started thinking about different ways of visualising the data in the registry. It’s easy to visualise a play because it relates to the way we live our lives, but a store of millions of pieces of information is less familiar.
After a quick search of the internet I had found a number of timelines but very few were properly interactive. In fact the only one that I found that was interactive was this one. This timeline contained all of the key points in Shakespeare’s life but it draws from a static list of events. I wanted to create something that brought in diverse information from numerous sources and displayed it in a way that people could relate to and use to explore more of the content.
Trying to display the entire contents of the registry on a timeline would result in a very cluttered display and sluggish page load so I decided to limit the results to three collections. The three collections I chose were Open Library, Culture Grid and National Library of Scotland. This still gave me around 500,000 results to work with so I limited the results further and split them up into 50-year sections. This gave me 11 separate timelines, each of which had a sensible amount of content. The example shown below is of a record from the Open Library collection showing a publication of part of Shakespeare’s play Henry VI. Clicking on the image will take you to the specific entry on the Open Library’s site.