To test it out I started a timeline of the life of Frederick
considered to be the father of American
landscape architecture. Referring to his biography on
I picked out a few events and started adding them to a new timeline on
When you add an event to a timeline, in addition to the title, date,
and description of the event, it is possible to upload a picture, link
to a webpage, or add a location.
Dipity presents the uploaded images as a slideshow or a "flipbook".
Location information is presented on a map.
I created. It's incomplete. I was planning to add in
Olmsted's projects. But he had a prolific career and adding events to a
time. You don't have to build a timeline alone though. In
Web 2.0 tradition, Dipity makes it possible to collaborate with others
on a timeline. Invite editors or open it up so that anyone can edit it.
It is also possible to automatically generate a timeline based on a
data source. If you use Web 2.0 services such as Flickr, Picasa,
Blogger, Wordpress, YouTube, or Twitter, you can generate a
timeline based on your data at those websites. Or grab any
feed and generate a timeline from it. I created a live timeline
of 5+ magnitude earthquakes
by specifying the source of the
timeline to be the appropriate
from USGS. Since the feed includes images and location
information, Dipity creates a flipbook showing the location of the
earthquakes and displays the location on an interactive Google map.
Create it once and Dipity will keep the timeline updated.
You can capture images from the timeline for use in other documents. Or
you can embed the timeline itself on your own website.
It is so easy to generate a timeline using a data source that I
couldn't resist the urge to create another one. Here is a
timeline of recent
blog posts on Planetizen Interchange
. Does this
post appear there?
[Web developers might be interested in MIT's Simile Timeline
It is now part of Google's web widgets
The line chart is a common format used to show
numeric data. A
line chart can be easily created using spreadsheet software.
Usually this is a large graphic. Information graphics
expert Edward Tufte --- The New York Times called him the "da
Vinci of Data" -- proposed an alternative for situations
more compact, condensed visual format is more appropriate. He coined
the name sparkline
for the format and described it as an "intense, simple, word-sized,
graphic". Here is what a sparkline looks like:
By itself, it doesn't convey much. That is because a sparkline is meant to be
presented alongside numbers and/or text. For example, here is
table from the U.S. Energy Information Administration showing the energy
of the United States:
Note how much information is conveyed in a small space and how multiple
sparklines make it possible to compare different trends.
The Wikipedia page on sparklines links to resources for creating
sparklines including add-ons for spreadsheet software. The one I found
easiest to use is the free web-based parkline generator at BitWorking
All you need is some numerical data to chart separated by commas.
For example here is some data:
Plugging this information
into the sparline generator results in:
depending on the format you choose.
Include the code in your webpage or capture the image to include in
your documents. That's all there is to it. The difficult part
is deciding where and how to use there. If you use sparklines in your
own work and find them effective, send me some examples. Mind Maps
According to Wikipedia
A mind map is a diagram
used to represent words, ideas, tasks, or other items linked to and
arranged radially around a central key word or idea. It is used to
generate, visualize, structure, and classify ideas, and as an aid in
study, organization, problem solving, decision making, and writing.
While a finished mind map is useful, the exercise of creating a mind
map might be even more valuable. So a mind mapping tool needs to be
flexible and not come in the way of the diagramming process. I find
that pen and paper or a whiteboard are actually the best tools for mind
mapping. But we are talking about digital tools here. Besides, if you
want to include the finished mind map in your presentation or document
you need something looks more professional.
My favorite digital tool for mind mapping is Freemind
an open source desktop application that runs on Linux, Mac OSX, or
Windows computers. Since it is a desktop application, it is not
necessary to be online to use it. So you can use it for brainstoring at
meetings or outlining some ideas on a flight. I will use it here to
create an example of a mind map.
The Open Directory Project
(ODP) is the web's largest human edited directory. It is
maintained by volunteers. It has a section on urban
with a heirarchy of topics and links. Using
Freemind, I created a mind map of the heirarchy used by ODP.