[uf-discuss] Using hCalendar to Create History Timelines

Jeremy Boggs jeremyboggs at gmail.com
Fri Jun 16 06:37:13 PDT 2006

Hi everyone,

I'm new to the list and new to microformats, so I hope the list  
doesn't mind an newbie inquiry.

I'm a web designer at the Center for History and New Media (http:// 
chnm.gmu.edu) at George Mason University, where we build scholarly,  
educational, and exhibit-based websites related to history, as well  
as a number of tools for educators and historians. One tool we're  
creating is called Timeline Builder, which will be a simple way for  
anyone to create and display historical timelines. The hCalendar  
microformat seems perfect for this kind of tool. We're thinking of  
making something like the hCard creator, where a teacher or student  
could go fill out a form, adding events, and generating a timeline  
they could use on their own website or save in a user account.

A few questions:

1. Is marking up events that happened decades or centuries ago with  
hCalendar an abuse of the spec and/or the spirit of the hCalendar  
format? I know the wiki page says its good for "writeups of past  
events", but I'm wondering if events hundreds of years in the past is  
what the spec has in mind.

2. Has someone does this already, or discussed it already? I've done  
a few searches with no luck.

3. Is this something worth pursuing, and a good application of  
microformats, or so problematic to make it futile?

My biggest concerns involve date parsing in general, various changes  
in calendars and dating in the past (e.g. the switch from Julian to  
Gregorian calendar in the 16th century), and accounting for dating  
systems in other regions and cultures, present and past.

I've got lots more questions for the list, depending of course on the  
answers to the questions I've posed above and related specifically to  
how to mark up different kinds of historical events with hCalendar.

Jeremy Boggs

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