Picture the scene: the ardent lead detective questions his team – anxiously huddled close by – about any new information in the hunt for the criminals. He pushes, he prods, he orders, he pleads with his fellows to think hard; time is running out. Now cast your eyes to the wall behind the lead detective, what are the detectives staring at?
Images of suspects or “persons of interest”, significant events in date order, addresses, car registrations, any and every piece of information that will help the detectives crack the case. This is the timeline, an interactive representation of the facts, and from it, if they look hard enough, they may just glean enough information to catch the bad guys and save the day. Of course, this is what we see in films and on TV, but it’s obvious enough that timelines such as these are used by real-life detectives. They could just make lists on A4 paper and discuss their findings this way, but that’s not what they do – why not? Elementary: a visual representation of facts like a Popplet, for example, sets neurons firing and makes for a highly effective investigative tool.
It’s not only law enforcement who benefit from using timelines. Timelines are a useful and even essential tool in many different types of situation:
- Studying events – any event can be broken down and its parts placed in the order they happened.
- History – any historical event or fact can be visualized on a timeline
- Biography – leader, writer, artist…
- Projects – from going on holiday to setting up a new company
- Autobiography – all about you and the milestones of your life
- Process – any process that benefits from the recording of significant events
- Books, stories, films – explain and understand what’s going on
- Writers use Popplet to create timelines for their work