Creating a Unified History

Posted by on Mar 7, 2017 in Earth, Ideas, Notes, Tech

There is great interest in our history. If we had all the vast knowledge of past human settlements and prehistory accurately gathered in a single digital map with a scrollable timeline we would have a powerful tool at our disposal. We would achieve greater understanding of our history through insights not possible with scattered information. Such a thing would be of tremendous interest and value, much like Wikipedia today. If done right and all the way, it could become an important tool in education and research in many fields.

Why doesn’t this exist? Well, there is no platform for it. Specific cities or regions have been historically mapped for anthropological or historical research or human interest. Other time maps have been made by dedicated hobby enthusiasts. But in order to do this on a large scale we need a common platform that can be used for the whole world. And to be successful the same principle as Wikipedia has to be followed. That is, even the slightest information you have is valuable and can and should easily be contributed.

Here I present my ideas on the principles of such a platform. It is a historical account of human society, as well as land shaping earth processes well before human presence. In technical terms, it is digital web map archive where you can scroll in time and space, effortlessly contribute information and navigate in an extremely simple and easy to use interface. Even though an actual implementation of this may differ a lot from my ideas outlined here, my hope is to contribute some ideas to further the cause of historical mapping. A free crowdsourcing unified history for the benefit of all people is possible and it would be quite something.

Mapping History proposal (PDF, 3 MB)

I have always found old maps to be fascinating. Not just because of the delicate craftsmanship and artwork, but because of the dignity and reverence of history. It’s like walking into a building that has stood for several hundred years. So much has happened before our time and it has happened on the same planet, on the very ground we walk on. Even though much of this history can be assessed from old maps, books, paintings and other sources, it still feels like there is a missing connection with present day life. Today we too easily focus on the future and by being closer to our past we might actually be more in the present. I hope we can create something to hold our heritage.

Jacob Levallius