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Archives: October 2008

7 Eye-popping interactive timelines (and 3 ways to create one)

1. 50th Anniversary of NASA

An animated robot named Automa is your guide for an interactive timeline of 50 years of NASA’s accomplishments. The site is both a visual feast and educational.

2. NY Times: How a Market Crisis Unfolded

The New York Times encapsulates the ongoing U.S. financial crisis in a timeline that combines photos, audio and existing stories in one well-rounded interactive package.

3. TimeSpace: Election

The Washington Post’s audacious effort to wrangle election photos, video, articles and more into one space takes a little effort to understand, so they threw in a how-to video. But the concept is remarkable: it shows when and where political events happened, right down to the street level.

4. C-SPAN Debate Timeline

The Oct. 15 debate between presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama is broken down into colored rectangles that signify the different issues covered that night, as well as the individual speaker. Clicking on the sections brings up a transcript of that portion of the debate and a link to a corresponding video.

5. Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure

If you don’t finish National Geographic’s visual explanation of undersea creatures with a thorough understanding of them, you just weren’t paying attention.

6. British Timeline

The BBC has a number of timelines that explore facets of British history, but this particular one spans from the prehistoric Neolithic and Bronze Ages to the events of present day.

7. 2008 US Movie Box Office

The year’s top-grossing films are beautifully visualized in this horizontal scrolling timeline that makes it easy to see the life span of movie powerhouses like Iron Man and The Dark Knight

If producing Flash-based timelines isn’t quite your area of expertise, there are a few free online services that will help you create a timeline without much effort:


Dipity is the go-to source for creating timelines with ease. Users can add dates manually or by uploading any RSS feed. Dipity users have found some creative uses for the online tool, including today’s top stories presented in timeline form and a visual chronicle of the popularity of internet memes.


Anyone can create an embeddable timeline like the one below of the history of computer games for free.


Finally, Viewzi is a visual search engine that offers a number of ways to view results, including a timeline. While it’s not clear if the timeline view is or will be embeddable, each individual search is linkable for reference purposes.

Previous timeline coverage:
How to create embeddable timelines with xtimeline

Mediabistro Course

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Pick your president: 6 sites to help you decide

There are just five days left until the US presidential election and according to cable news channels there are plenty of undecided voters out there. So in an effort to help voters make up their minds, here is a collection of match games, quizzes and polls from both mainstream media and the media-minded that will help you decide which candidate matches your interest. And even if you’re already gunning for either John McCain or Barack Obama, the following will help you confirm you’ve made the right choice:

1. ABC News: Match-o-Matic

ABC’s fun Flash-based quiz is made more interesting by the cartoonified candidates.

2. USA Today: Candidate Match Game

USA Today employs sliders and radio buttons to help users share how they feel about major issues.

3. Glassbooth

Quiz-takers are first asked to rank the issues that are relevant to them, then are asked questions about those issues.

4. Candidate Calculator

A straightforward multiple choice quiz on pertinent political issues

5. Presidential Candidate Selector

Use sliders to weigh in on the issues in this 26-question quiz

6. Google: In Quotes

Google places the candidates’ quotes on topics like the Iraq war and energy side by side for easy comparison.

The Daily News-Tribune-Herald-Times: Newspapers names are much of the same

While researching for the map of newspaper endorsements for president, it became apparent that most newspaper names are just variations of the same familiar titles: Times, Post, Journal, etc. So, after running Wikipedia’s list of US newspapers through TagCrowd, here are the most popular newspaper names in the United States:

1. News (299)
2. Daily (259)
3. Times (177)
4. Herald (128)
5. Journal (122)
6. Press (94)
7. Tribune (86)
8. Sun (66)
9. Star (58)
10. Gazette (43)
11. Courier (42)
12. Record (42)
13. Post (40)
14. Sentinel (34)
15. Observer (33)
16. Democrat (28)
17. Register (28)
18. Enterprise (27)
19. Reporter (26)
20. Independent (25)
21. Chronicle (24)
22. Leader (24)
23. Citizen (22)
24. Review (20)
25. Weekly (20)

And of course, in the grand tradition of 10,000 Words, here is a word cloud created with Wordle (click for larger version):

Also on 10,000 Words:

What is…? A handy guide for the new media novice
8 Ways of visualizing the news
What the journalism industry can learn from porn
Better Days: The Golden Age of Newspapers

The Ten Commandments of Twitter

1.Thou shalt not tweet every second of thou’s life.

2. Thou shalt ease up on the CAPS LOCK and exclamation points!!!!!!!1!!

3. Thou shalt not be a spammer.

4. Thou shalt not just replyeth, but also have original thoughts.

5. Thou shalt not send more than one tweet to beat the 140-character limit.

6. Thou shalt not be upset if thou isn’t return followed.

7. Thou shalt Twubble.

8. Thou shalt not use Twitter solely as an RSS feed.

9. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s followers.

10. Thou shalt love the Fail Whale as thyself.

The YouTube-ification of TV advertising

Burger King’s notoriously creepy King commercials as well as the company’s recent debut of ads featuring awkward singing duo Shroom & Swiss have made one thing clear: weird is the new jingle.

In the age of Tivo and DVRs, advertisers have to do a lot more to compel viewers to watch their commercials. Many have found that the way to capture the minds of the elusive 18-34 male demographic is to emulate those crazy YouTube videos that they are watching. This has led to an onslaught of head scratchers like Quiznos’ “Eat $5″ campaign, Skittle’s piñata man, and a centaur touting the virtues of Axe Body Wash.

While some intentionally weird campaigns have been successful (BK’s King is now a sought after Halloween mask), most just end up falling flat. Television viewers are a lot more sophisticated than advertisers give them credit for and can recognize when they’re being pandered to.

It’s hard to think that this trend in advertising — along with the prevalence of reality TV — isn’t a part of the dumbing down of American television, but as long as campaigns like the King continue to go viral and become cultural phenomena, advertisers will continue to do whatever works. The fundamental point of any ad is to get people talking about the product, which, ironically, is what I have just done.

Burger King: Shroom & Swiss, Wake Up With the King


AXE: Chocolate Man, Centaur


Skittles: Piñata Man, Long beard