Far too often, the beauty of history is obscured by a profusion of prose.

Does an excess of text turn history into something ugly and boring? Many would agree, and the irony is amusing: by its traditional definition, the written word is the very essence of history. Technically, without the written word you don't have history, you have pre-history. In common parlance, the definition is usually construed more broadly; one could say cosmic history includes every event since the beginning of time.

Regardless of how you define it, the fact remains: the sole format in which most historical information is available to you is text: a stream of typographic symbols for your eyes to read and your brain to process in a sequential manner.

With no disrespect to the written word (it sure is useful right here, isn't it?) I assert that there are other ways to understand history: more visual ways, more non-linear ways, more interactive ways.

histori.city is my attempt to explore some of those new ways. Towards that end, I say:

History doesn't happen in text. History happens at specific times and places, right here on planet Earth.

histori.city seeks to record every piece of history on an interactive, collaboratively-editable map

That being said, histori.city is most definitely a work-in-progress. What you see today is just a glimpse of what can be done.

What is histori.city?

Histori.city is a history book, spread across space and time.
It's a maps app crossed with a time machine.
It's a geo-temporal wikipedia of world history.

Like any other map-oriented application, you can zoom in to a small patch of land, or zoom out to whole continent.

Unlike most other map apps, you can also zoom around time. You can zoom down to a single day, or zoom out to a millennium.

Within your chosen space-time view, you can run searches and see the results appear on both the map and the timeline.

You can bookmark your searches. You can create permalinks to share your bookmarks with friends.

Soon: anything you can see on the map, you can edit. Add or remove tags. Adjust the location or time. Every edit creates a new version, preserving previous versions. Although our current version does not yet allow user-contributed edits, the long-term vision is for most of the content on histori.city to be crowd-sourced, much like Wikipedia.

What are some key concepts I should understand?

The information in histori.city is organized around a few core concepts: Nexus, Tag, and Decoration.

Learn more about Nexuses, Tags and Decorations.

Why do I only see battles and city foundings?

TLDR: it was relatively easy to import these events from Wikipedia.

Soon, there will be much more.

In the long run, the idea is for histori.city to be maintained by the public. But it's difficult to start from a blank slate. By pre-loading content from Wikipedia, it is much easier to see what histori.city is all about and how much fun it can be to play with.

What open source software is histori.city built upon?

I'm so glad you asked. Like many open source projects today, histori.city stands on the shoulders of an army of giants.

We're always looking for help, so if you have coding skills please check out our source and have some fun with it. Code contributions are always welcome.

We are particularly looking for help with the frontend: if you know Ember, Angular or React and are interested in making the histori.city UI/UX something truly extraordinary, please let me know.

Where did histori.city come from?

histori.city was created by Jonathan Cobb, an entrepreneur and software developer in the San Francisco Bay Area. Jonathan grows tired of referring to himself in the third person and will refrain from doing so for the remainder of this section.

I am currently CTO of QBIS, an amazingly fun and smart startup hell-bent on revolutionizing the business-insurance industry.

I hold five software patents even though I don't believe the US Patent Office should issue such things.

I founded mobile-video innovator Kiptronic (acquired by Limelight Networks), I was an early co-founder of Hyperic (acquired by vmware), I'm the author of the handy s3s3mirror utility, and I'm a proud supporter of these organizations which I will shamelessly plug right now:


© 2016 histori.city