Merging space and time in Google Earth and Temporal Earth

History and archaeology are intimately connected with questions of what happened “where” and “when”, but traditional paper-based representations (eg. maps and timelines) are quite restrictive in what they can represent.

I’m interested in sharing skills and ideas with others on representing historical processes in space and time, by linking dynamic maps and animations with an interactive timeline.  I’ll demonstrate the existing time-based capabilities of GoogleEarth and its authoring language KML – which have some exciting possibilities but also significant limitations.  I’ll also introduce my own project, TemporalEarth, which pushes the technical boundaries to help discipline-experts author representations on topics in history, archaeology, geology and related disciplines.  My initial prototype, SahulTime, provides some compelling ideas for how such methods could be put to use, and will provide a good basis for further discussion.

Ultimately, I hope to grow the project to become an explorable, comprehensive set of resources relating to Australia’s history on all timescales and spatial scales.  So I wonder if anyone would be interested getting together to research/develop a visualisation covering their area of expertise.  Possible examples: archaeological occupation sites, tribal boundaries, trading routes, Australian explorers, convict settlements, pastoral settlement, Aboriginal-European conflict, reserves/mission stations, the Gold Rush, urban development, railways, family histories, locational histories, artwork histories… basically anything that needs to be understood using both space and time.

About Matthew Coller

My PhD project investigates methods to visualise the ancient past, on all timescales: historical, archaeological and geological. I am following the visualisation principles of the "Digital Earth System", best known through their implementation in GoogleEarth. My project asks what we might see if we could take GoogleEarth back through a time-warp: 'satellite' images of ancient coastlines, archaeological sites and reconstructions, empires growing and declining, the loci of historical figures on their journeys through time. So far I have developed a spatio-temporal visualisation prototype showing the ancient Australasian continent through time, with a zoomable timeline and a vast array of content visualisations. There is tremendous potential to express the 'time and place' aspects of humanities topics such as history and archaeology.
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