Discourse DB, now with timelines

I finally upgraded all the MediaWiki code on Discourse DB to the latest version. I mention this because one of the neat features of the new Semantic MediaWiki code (which is essentially what our site runs on, with some of our own modifications) is timelines. It’s a plugin of the Timeline tool developed by MIT’s Simile project, and it lets you see items with dates along a scrollable graph of time, as opposed to just in a list or table.

As a test of the capability, I set it up for a timeline to appear by default at the bottom of the page for each “topic”. As an example, you can see it at Military Commissions Act of 2006; just scroll to the bottom. If you click on either one of the bars to scroll the timeline sideways, you can see all the editorials/posts/etc. that were written about the act, by publication date. Clicking on any name pops up the basic information about it.

When you show the data this way, various trends become apparent. You can see, for instance, that there’s a large “clump” in which almost all of the commentary was written, basically from early September to early October, 2006; that corresponds to when Congress was discussing and voting on the bill. The other topic pages all show this same pattern of clumping during a period of days or weeks. You can also the days in which nearly everyone is talking about that topic; those tend to correspond with real-life news events.
Another way to visualize the data, for what it’s worth.

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