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Space, time and the future (no, really)

First of all, congratulations on bringing this from a concept to an executed beta version. It's clear from your blog posts that you're very aware that there's a lot more detail and validation needed to bring this to fruition. Despite that, I'm sure you (Dietmar) have a pretty clear picture of the type of experience that will result.

Perhaps you could share a little about how much detail you envision the Chronas interface being able to present. Here are a couple of possible uses for which I would be interested to understand your thoughts:

  1. The Artuqid dynasty ruled parts of eastern Anatolia and northern Mesopotamia between 1101 and 1409. The family divided into three main branches, each with its own capital, and Artuqid rulers generally owed allegiance to bigger regional powers such as the Ayyubids, the Rum Seljuks, the Mongol Il-Khans and the Timurids. Ideally, Chronas would be able to show which areas were ruled by which dynasty at a particular date, the Artuqid ruelrs in power, the empire to which each dynasty was pledging allegiance, and the sources for that information.
  2. The Donner Party travelled from Springfield, Illinois to Sacramento, California between April 1846 and April 1847, spending a grueling winter in the Sierra Nevada. Multiple parties attempted to escape the Sierra camp, or to relieve the Donner Party members. At around the same time (July 1846 to January 1847), the Mormon Battalion covered 2,000 miles from Council Bluffs, Iowa to San Diego, California in support of the US Army during the Mexican–American War. Veterans of the Mormon Battalion joined the relief party of General Stephen Watts Kearny that disposed of the remains of Donner Party members at what he called the "Cannibal Camp". Ideally, a history tool would be able to show the location of various parties at a particular time to help people visualize the dynamic nature of these events.

Clearly, neither of those uses can be adequately dealt with in the current system, but one can imagine that with higher resolution for spatial and time detail, and the capability to layer and connect the routes of notable individuals and groups, subjects of this sort could be handled in a way hard to equal with static maps, timelines and text.

I guess I'm curious t know whether that kind of treatment might ever be possible in Chronas, or whether there are limitations of structure or scope that would count out these scenarios. It seems you have decided to adopt a single, fairly coarse resolution for your "areas" and that might limit the ability to depict territory at a level smaller than mid-sized kingdoms. Do I understand that right?

1 comment

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Dietmar Aumann · a year ago

Dear Rupert, thank you for your initiative to write your suggestions and sorry for coming back to you quite late (the 3 last weeks have been a bit busy).

We are (hopefully) only at the beginning of the Chronas project and there is a ton of future features we could have a closer look at implementing. At this moment in time I am focused on finishing the basic editing tools so we can get the data polished and have a strong data foundation on which we can built on.

Once we have done this, I would like to let the community decide which new features or improvements (perfomance!) we should put on the roadmap.

The two specific examples you gave could be such new features. Drawing routes or illustrations on top of the map and subgrouping rulers are definitely feasible.

At the current version, fixed limitations of the application are the timelines being grouped in years (each year consists of a set of datalayers - grouping in month would mean that datalayers would jump from 2000 years 16 features = 32000 to 24000 months 16 features = 384000, which would mean that a lot of tuning first needs to be done to get acceptable performance). Also I do not see the concept of grouping areas in provinces being abandoned any time soon. As explained at a different thread on this site, provinces help to easily manage data for each year (imagine a spreadsheet of provinces as rows and features such as ruler, religion, culture, population as columns). Having areas being drawn free-form would mean that all coordinates of each area need to be stored and rebuild for each year and feature(!) because ruler areas do not equate religion, culture etc. This is not possible if we value performance (and data volume).

I hope that explains the basic idea and limitations for Chronas. If anything is unclear, please feel free to ask a follow up question!