Promoting Your Resources Using Timeline Software

Standard

I’ve been experimenting with historical timeline software recently to see if we could promote our library service resources online to our users (mostly books and online subscriptions around a particular topic area) in a different way. Historical timeline software allows the user to build a dated list of related events that can be browsed by other users. Normally our resources would be promoted by refering to them and linking  back to them from our website and via our Twitter and Facebook accounts. Our aim was to include the timeline as a small project focused on the Queen’s Jubilee and her links to Surrey – giving us a narrow topic area to deal with.

I had a look at a number of pieces of software before we decided upon which one to use. Below is a list of ideal requirements I wanted from the software.

Requirements
  • Use for historical/educational purposes.
  • Specify and display events chronologically on a dated timeline.
  • Upload a file or link to a resource on the internet (preferably our library service resources) for each specific event on the timeline.
  • Browser based software/service ie no need to download software to create the timeline.
  • Free software.
  • Ability to move/scroll/browse through the timeline visually.
  • Displays information on the timeline in an interesting and fun way.
  • Easy to use.
  • Quick to load.
  • Ability to embed finished timeline into other web sites.
  • Searchable.
  • Ability to add a range of media eg text, pictures, video, RSS feeds, audio.
  • Capability to specify date range of timeline.
  • Import data/information in timeline.
  • Export data/information in timeline.
  • Ability to share it with others.
Before deciding on which one to use I tried out the following – Memolane; Rememble; Preceden; Timelines.com; TimeRime; Tiki-Toki; XTimeLine; Dipity; Timeglider. They all allowed users to put timelines together in a slightly different way and below is a brief description of them, with pros and cons.
  • Memolane (http://memolane.com/explore)
    • Pros
      • Browser based
      • Easy to use
      • Can embed into other sites
      • Searchable
      • Can add a variety of item types – Twitter, Youtube, Soundcloud, blog feeds – it depends which services you connect to
      • RSS feed based, so doesn’t require manual input
      • Automatically pulls in information
      • Can filter feeds with keywords, which gives you a bit more control about what is displayed
      • Can browse along timeline
      • Can share individual parts (memo) of timeline via Twitter, Facebook & with a link
      • Can comment on individual entries
      • Can hide and delete individual “memo’s”
      • Links back to original resource
      • Indicates what services have been used in timeline eg Youtube, Soundcloud, Twitter
      • Can embed into other webpages
      • Link your accounts from other services to it and pulls in information automatically
      • Useful as a feed agregator for different services – use it as a way to show everything you’re doing in one place
      • Can move backwards and forwards along timeline
    • Cons
      • It’s best for personal use, rather than creating an historical timeline. However, you can add other information if you use the right RSS feeds/sources
      • Can’t add single items manually
      • Can’t upload separate files eg. photos, audio – need to be feed in through services you have linked
      • Can’t change timescales – dates aren’t always clear
  • Rememble (http://www.rememble.com/)
    • Pros
      • Good for personal use, rather than historical timeline
      • Browser based
      • Can embed mini memble (membles are events) in other sites
      • Can link to Twitter & Flickr
      • Add files – audio, video, images – & notes, emails
      • Can send membles directly from your phone to update the timeline
      • Ability to share, comment and tag membles
      • Can link in Twitter & Flickr accounts
    • Cons
      • More for personal use, than historical timelines
      • Can’t pull in news stories from the web
      • Wouldn’t authorise Twitter account
      • Can’t feed in RSS
      • I had problems uploading files
      • Memble is not visible to everyone – other users need an account to view your memble.
      • Can’t create separate timelines for different subjects.
      • Based around adding files (images, audio, video), rather than linking to resources
  • Preceden (http://www.preceden.com/)
    • Only allows you to add 5 events to a timeline if you have a free/trial account (didn’t continue with trial)
  • Timelines.com (http://timelines.com/)
    • Pros
      • Topics are assigned to an event eg. Birth of Anne Boleyn could be given topics of “Anne Boleyn”, “British Monarchy” and timelines are generated from the topics assigned to an event
      • Can collaborate with others on building a timeline
      • Can search for particular keywords
      • Can link to web resources
      • Upload files, videos, images, audio
      • You don’t have to create all events yourself – you can use events others have created
    • Cons
      • Can’t build separate timelines
      • Users don’t have control over what appears in a timeline – it depends upon what other events are tagged with that topic
      • Timeline doesn’t display in a scrollable horizontal timeline – it is presented as a list of events based on the tags used
  • TimeRime (http://www.timerime.com/en/)
    • Pros
      • Very flexible
      • Useful to see chronological list of events in edit mode
      • Can indicate level of importance of event. eg Birth of Monarch may be seen as very important, but their 18th birthday may be seen as lower importance
      • Can add media from url or upload files (NB: images can only be uploaded)
    • Cons
      • Detailed content doesn’t appear on timeline, but in box below it (each marker on timeline indicate that multimedia content is included in that event)
      • Can not pull in RSS feeds
      • Doesn’t look very exciting
      • Complexity can make setting up a timeline confusing
  • Tiki-Toki (http://www.tiki-toki.com/)
    • Pros
      • Browser based
      • Can add media via url inc text; video; images (images can also be uploaded)
      • Can link to web resources
      • Can pull in RSS feeds
      • Very flexible
      • End result looks interesting and visually impressive
      • Shows where events are on timeline, with marker on the dateline
      • Can export data from your timeline as csv or json
      • Can define categories of events eg. Surrey; General and display then using different colour indicators
      • Can browse along timeline
    • Cons
      • Only one timeline can be created with a free account
      • Can’t embed timeline into website with free account
      • Can’t search for events in timeline
  • Dipity (http://www.dipity.com/)
    • Its slowness and inclusion of adverts in the timeline if no video or image appeared in an event put me off continuing with the trial
  •  TimeGlider (https://timeglider.com/app/)
    • Pros
      • Ability to add images and text
      • Can link to web resources
      • Ability to pull in RSS feeds; Flickr photos (user account feed); Wikipedia pages (single year)
      • Embed in other sites & share with others
      • Personalise colour schemes
      • Emphasise importance of different events
      • Group events by using icons/displaying legend
      • Hover over events to see more detail
      • Browseable
      • It might be useful for creating project timelines
    • Cons
      • Can be confusing with different feeds pulled into a single timeline
      • Not visually exciting
      • Can’t search for events
      • Can’t export data

After trying out each one of the above I finally went for Tiki-toki. It didn’t fulfill  all of the requirements – most notably that it couldn’t be embedded in another site, you can’t search for specific events in the timeline and you can only create one timeline using the free account. However, it was the most flexible  and the end result was visually impressive too. Each event is displayed boldly on the timeline, with a link to at least one of our library resources and an image or video. The software enabled us to link to not only our own online resources and catalogue, but also some useful external resources too, such as old news reels and news articles.

The final “Queen Elizabeth II in Surrey” Tiki-toki timeline can be found here.

 

As an aside, I liked the idea of a personal timeline as well. I’ve been trying to find a way to pull together all of my feeds from my various blogs, Flickr, Tumblr etc in a single place and also build a scrap book of what I’ve been up to. I preferred Memolane over Rememble, so I’ll be exploring that a bit more in the near future.

Advertisements

Following Trails in Trailmeme

Standard

I’ve shown you how you can set up a Trailmeme . Once you’ve done this you can publish your trail and others can start following it.

On the opening screen you can search for public Trailmeme’s by keyword. From this search you’re given a list of Trailmeme’s you can follow. Choose a Trailmeme and start following. You do this by first clicking on one of the markers and you’re taken to the web page this marker represents.

Follow page on Trailmeme

The web page is now broken up into 2 parts.

On the right hand side you get the web page that has been used as the marker (it appears in a frame).

On the left side of the screen you’re given details of that marker and you’re also shown links to/from other markers (indicated by green arrows). If you hover over the links you can see more details about the marker. To move through the trailmeme map click on these links. When moving through the trail, you can offer more than one link in either direction. So, in my example from the Java documentation page I offered a number of links, depending upon how someone might prefer to learn Java ie via forum, book, or blog tutorials.

At this stage it would be good to see why the trailmeme has been set up in a particular way, why a user has linked various web pages together and why specific links have been chosen. For example, I set my Java programming trail up on different levels – an overview to the left, getting more specific methods of learning ( eg books, forum, tutorials) and method/class tutorials on the right. Given all the time in the world I would have provided links to examples for all tutorials, rather than just a few.

I also think that it would be handy if you could highlight parts of web pages to show why a page was chosen to be included in the trail. Some pages may only be relevant because they contain a useful chunk of information, rather than the whole page itself.

Even though pages are linked, you’re not just limited to staying within the pages in the trail. You can also click on links in web pages as normal.

You can also go back to the map overview, which shows how all the pages are linked.

I found Trailmeme a really useful way of linking sites together and even though it’s early days, I can see the potential in using it as a way to provide tutorials linking related resources, a means of providing subject guides and also as a way of mapping an individuals thought trails – from A to B via Z.

The trail I created is here.

Linking Markers in Trailmeme

Standard

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been looking at Trailmeme, which allows you to create a map of linked pages, based around a specific topic. So far I’ve covered what it’s about and what it could be used for and choosing and using markers/bookmarks .

Once you’ve selected your markers you link them together to make a path through the markers/pages. You select the trail you are working on (via ‘Follow’, ‘My Trails’). It opens up with a list of markers associated with the trail on the left hand side and a  work pane on the right.

Initially the work pane displays a column of flow chart boxes and below them various menu options >> create/delete relationship between links, zoom in and out (trails with lots of markers can appear quite small in this window) and you can add further details (Node name, blurb/description, tags and comments) about the link. These details appear when anyone follows your trail. To link, just click on a marker and drag a line to the marker you want to link to. Each marker can have multiple links to and from it. You can also move the markers around the work pane.

Trailmeme Edit Trail Workpane

Edit Trail Screen

In this ‘Java Trail’ I tried to link things logically. Giving an overview on the left side, different general methods of learning in the middle and specific examples of Java programming classes/methods on the right. Even though you can’t do it at this stage, I think it would be useful to be able to group markers together into these logical groups – possibly into folders/venn sets? It would just help to show the logic to myself and others for future reference.

At this stage you can still add more markers and remove any you don’t want.

On this screen you also get the option to view the xml file of your trail, which is interesting to see how it all works behind the scenes. Maybe in future the developers could offer an option to upload/import trailmeme xml files as a way to create trailmemes, as well as using the graphical interface.

It’s fairly straightforward to use and linking web pages using Trailmeme could provide a logical/structured route through what might otherwise seem like a disjointed list of bookmarks.

(to be continued…)

Choosing and Using Markers in Trailmeme

Standard

Trailmeme builds linked web trails using bookmarked resources. After setting up your account you can import bookmarks/markers or add them manually to your pool. Once they’re added to your pool you check that they’re useable in a trail. If a marker appears correctly in a frame it’s useable.

At this stage you can see if any bookmarks have been used in another trail by anyone on the site. This could be handy if you’re looking for more markers for your trail – another trailmeme using the same marker may link to other useful resources you could use. I can’t help but think that it would also be useful to be able to link to any other trails that use the same bookmark- possibly creating a trailmeme of trailmemes! It would also be helpful to be able to search your bookmarks/ markers. If you make the mistake of importing all your bookmarks, it can take a while to find a particular one in the pool.

Next, you set up a new trail. You do this by giving it a title, submitting it and adding your markers to it.

Trailmeme Markers

Markers added to 'Java Programming' Trailmeme

For my ‘Java trail’ I decided to add more than just bookmarks for tutorial purposes. I included bookmarks for pages that compared java with other programming languages, the history/background of java, java documentation and videos, tutorials and links to useful books on Worldcat. I wanted the trail to give followers a varied view of Java, including a variety of resources they might find useful.

An aside: I included the programming comparison links as part of the ‘thought process’ experience. Before I started programming in Java I scouted around to see what language would be best for me. I wanted to learn a new language, as I wanted to get back into programming. I’d also seen some wizzy things on the internet that I wanted to find out more about, or create myself. I also thought that as a technical librarian in the internet dominated info world, updating my programming skills would be a good idea. The programming comparison links helped me decide – I went for Java and php in the end.

At the moment the markers in a trail aren’t organised in any useful way. For them to be of any use to others you need to link them together. This is when it becomes a trail. Up until now it’s still just a list of links.

(to be continued)

Trailmeme Introduction

Standard

Trailmeme is a way of creating a bookmarked path through online resources. Unlike traditional bookmarking, you can link sites together using trails, therefore creating a route along related online materials. Traditionally you could keep related bookmarks together in your web browser by adding them all to the same folder, but this doesn’t show you how the items are related. Trailmeme is also an online application, which means you can easily share your trail of links with other users.

At first look I can think of a few decent uses for this tool.

(1) A record of how you got from site A to B & the places inbetween – handy for personal use, research or as a thought process trail.
(2) Providing tutorials linking related resources.
(3) Creating subject resources or guides – suggested prefered resources, but with the ability for those following your trailmeme to branch off elsewhere.

Depending upon your reason for creating a specific trail you will want to include different types of links. For example, if you’re creating a tutorial trail you don’t necessarily want your students to see the in-depth thought process trail that led you to choose some links instead of others.

You can set up a trailmeme with a specific theme (eg Java programming), give it a title, tag it and organise the links in it.

I’ve decided to set up a Java programming trail, partly as a thought process trail and partly as a subject guide and over the course of a few blog posts I’ll be going through the process to illustrate what you can do with it.

(to be continued…)