New tool for history buffs… great potential…

…but it’s hard to say if the potential will be fulfilled. ChronoZoom is a web application which is, its developers say, “A timeline of all time.” Their main goal was to try to illustrate the proportions between cosmic geological time-scales and human-historical ones. But they may have created a remarkable powerhouse for understanding and communicating vital concepts in history.

Right now, ChronoZoom is in the hands of academic historians, which means it’s getting packed full of their prinitive obsession with race and sex. For example, the one illustration I found of World War Two was an in-depth audiovisual narrative of the USA’s mistreatment of a Japanese-American man and his white wife under FDR Executive Order 9066. This should be a link to that point.

While it may have been the most important thing that happened to them in World War II, it wasn’t the most important thing that happened in the war… unless you are an academic, who sees all the world through prisms of race and sex and, when you let your inner Marxist rip, “class.”

The ChronoZoom interface and links take some navigating… and they’re a rocky beta at this time, The tutorials in the ChronoZoom YouTube channel help (especially Video #3). It’s worth noting that in the tutorial, the years of human existence were measured in the traditional BC/AD scale, but they have now been changed to the Orwellian PC neologisms BCE/CE.

Still, as a presentation tool, ChronoZoom has considerable promise. The academics’ dream is for it to be as widely used and as content-packed as Wikipedia, but to do that they’ll have to give up their grip — and slant — on it. And ChronoZoom goes back… back… back through all recorded history… to prehistory… to geologic time… to cosmology predating the advent of Earth… to the Big Bang. So the creators aren’t lacking ambition.

And the student’s presentation on Arthur and Estelle Ishigo and their experiences with internment (Arthur had to go, Estelle opted to go with her husband) is interesting, fact-packed, and reinforced with photos and documents.

So the good news is that ChronoZoom is up and crawling, at least… and that Microsoft has taken an interest in the project. The bad news is that Microsoft has taken an interest in the project, which means it will not be safe to use until Version 3.1. The ugly news is that Microsoft wants to apply its buggy, security-challenged Silverlight software to the project.

Hat tip: Robert Wright at The Atlantic.