A timeline is a simple chronological listing of events. Timelines are frequently used for the following purposes:
A common example of an everyday timeline would be the television schedule familiar to couch potatoes throughout the developed world.
Linear time is a norm of the modern occidental mindset canonised by Newton over three hundred years ago leading to the development of a paradigm in which the progression of time is an objective fact and that events occur in a continuous and objective order. This can be compared to an observer in a room watching a continuous conveyer belt upon which is placed at regular intervals boxes representing moments of time. A timeline is therefore an inventory of the contents of each box, by necessity restricted to a specific interest, field and period.
So what the heck does that mean in English?
To cut a long story short, if you buy into the linear time idea, as most of us do, stuff happens in order. Your day might go like this:
- 6:30am: Wake Up, hit alarm clock
- 6:45am: Wake Up, throw alarm clock at wall
- 7:10am: Wake Up, scream- rush to work half dressed
- 9:10am: Arrive at work late
- 12:30pm-1:00pm: Have lunch
- 1:30pm: Get called into office and told to be on time in future
- 5:00pm: Go home, buy new alarm clock on way
If that was your day, then that is what happened. Those events occurred in that order at those times. No matter how much you might desire time to be a different length, or events to occur in a different order they simply don't and haven't. Time simply is there, it happens. If you are asleep, awake busy or bored you know that time is still passing at the same steady rate measured into recordable chunks by clocks around the world.
Which brings us to the wonder that is the timeline, the ultimate expression of humanity's desire to map out everything. Not satisfied with charting the ocean blue, the continents, the moon and the stars above; humanity reaches for another dimension- time itself. Just as a map reveals features in space, a timeline lists actions or events as they occured in time. The example above is a simple timeline of an average day, a small scale map of one person's day. This is but the tip of the iceberg my friends, today a workshift, tomorrow eternity! (Insert mad laughter)
Timelines can be very useful, by setting out a simple list of events in the past we can spot patterns, see connections and correlations. By designing timelines of our future plans we can judge practicalities, co-ordinate our actions and publicise events. TV schedules are one such most widely available timeline, but they are everywhere. Catching a train or a bus would be considerably more difficult without the use of a timetable, which is essentially a collection of timelines.
For lovers of fiction there is of course a third subject for timelines, that of imaginary events. Fictional timelines can be of use both to the artist and the consumer. For writers of fiction a timeline can provide consistency, a central plot and help avoid continuity errors which can destroy suspension of disbelief. For the consumer a timeline can provide an added level of understanding to a work of fiction. Is there a fan anywhere who had not scoured a timeline of their favourite comic, TV show or novels. Again these allow a fan to see the big picture, spot patterns and see different aspects to a work that they may be already familiar with yet never the less will often benefit from the transfer to a different medium.
Timelines on Everything 2
This listing can not be comprehensive, if there are other timelines that you feel should be listed here please /msg me.
20th Century History
A short timeline of Kay and Engelhardt upright basses (1894-1969)
21st Century History
- Comic Book
- Novels/RPGs etc.