Proposed: The Global Time Machine

by Randy Murray on September 22, 2011

Here’s an idea that I’ve talked about for some time that I’d love to see fully executed. Perhaps by some massive search engine company.

I want a 3D globe that I can view. By default, it’s set to NOW. It will show the global weather, but as I look at the globe, I can also see news events. I can see what’s happening all over the planet, and if I want, I can zoom in for increasing levels of detail, for video, for reporting, for analysis.

But there’s more than news. I can see, if I choose, facts. I can see population numbers. I can see industrial numbers, economic facts, details about the health of people and the environment. I can see practically everything. There can also be layers displaying social media, like the global Twitter trends. I want all of the richness of the internet, but through a global interface.

And there’s more. I can see today, now, but I can also set the time for any date or time in the past. I can set the view to September 22, 1883 and see similar details, where the data exists. If a famous person, say Samuel Clemens, gave a speaking performance, I could see where he was and who else might have been in the audience. I might choose to follow him around the globe, over time. I can look at the world in 1876 and see not only the events of the Battle of the Little Big Horn, but what else was happening in the world on that day. I want access to every newspaper, radio and TV program (when they existed), and the published journals of individuals. I want at any moment to see how many people were on the planet, where they were, and what they were up to.

The further back one goes, the less direct data there might be, except for some spots. For example, the Romans were detailed record keepers, but so were the Chinese even further back. There would be a lot to learn by being able to see this all with a global interface.

Now imagine tying it into a genealogical database. You could trace families back through time, seeing where they were born, married, and died, how they moved (or stayed) across the planet.

What would I gain from this? Not just facts, but perspective. It would be a new way to learn and to understand the world.


Note: Neil Stephenson writes about an interface or program somewhat like this in his novel Snow Crash. Google Earth is a start, but it’s only pictures. There’s no connection to anything but the images taken by satellite some time in the past.

The Proposed: The Global Time Machine by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Mari September 22, 2011 at 5:31 pm

Any invention of this sort ought to come equipped with an antidote for sleep for the curiously insatiable.


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