Back in the late 90’s, I dreamed of building an immersive mapping application that would let people travel through time to any place in the past and see what it was like. It was an impractical idea at the time, but things have changed recently and the result is Concharto. Last June, I alluded to the project when I noted that Leo Tolstoy, author of “War and Peace” proposed applying the scientific method to history, asserting that a complete understanding of an event could be obtained by slicing that event into smaller and smaller pieces, in exactly the same way that a math student performs integral calculus.
While not actually creating a calculus of history, Concharto does attempt to slice history into smaller pieces. There are three recent technological advances that make this possible:
- Advanced database software and cheap server hardware have made it easy to search huge repositories of information.
- Geographic web services have simplified the task of placing events in a spacial context.
- Wikipedia has demonstrated the awesome power of mass collaboration.
Hopefully, Concharto will one day be a comprehensive repository of thin slices of notable events from every place and time.
How can that happen? Concharto is a Geographic Wiki. It looks like Google Maps and works like Wikipedia. It has the all of the illustrative power Google Maps and all of the strengths and weaknesses of Wikipedia.
Unlike virtually all other mapping sites on the internet today, Concharto is not about places – it is about events. Unlike Wikipedia, it is about small discrete bits of information, rather than comprehensive articles.
View A Larger Map
Expansion of the Inca Empire of South America.
(Updated 4/29/08 to reflect our name change from Time Space Map to Concharto)