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TimeFlow!is!a!tool!created!for!reporters!by!Fernanda!Viegas!and!Martin!Wattenberg!of!Flowing!Media!

Inc.!that!manages!chronologies!and!timelines.!It!was!envisioned!as!a!way!to:!!

Keep!notes!on!long ? running!stories,!such!as!court!cases,!bankruptcies!or!poli ce!investigations! that!often!require!reminding!readers!and!viewers!of!the!events!so!far!or!the!history!of!the!case.!

Compile!disparate!material!for!projects!in!a!way!that!might!help!see!relationships!and!events!in! a!new!light.! !

Organize!information!for!narr atives!and!reconstructions!of!events. !

The!key!features!include!the!ability!to!zoom!in!and!out!on!any!period!of!time,!to!filter!and!color!code! events,!and!to!edit!your!notes!in ? place!or!import!them!from!a!spreadsheet.!!It!won’t!automate!your!data! entry,!but ! it!should!help!you!organize!and!visualize!the!notes!you’re!taking!anyway. !

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Getting'started '

Take!a!look!at!the!installation!instructions!on! the!TimeFlow!github!wiki!at! http://wiki.github.com/FlowingMedia/TimeFlo w/download ? and ? install ? timeflow ! .!!You!can! install!this!into!your!own!documents!folder!or! onto!a!flash!drive.! !

The'Deepwater'Horizon'oil'spill '

To!get!started!with!TimeFlow,!open!the! Example!dataset!called!“Deep water!Horizon! Spill”,!accessed! from!the!menu! under!“Examples”:! !

Spill”,!accessed! from!the!menu! under!“Examples”:! ! Looking'at'raw'data ' !

Looking'at'raw'data '

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Before!digging!in,!take!a!look!at!what!data!is! included!in!this!timeline.!Choose!the!“List”!tab! at!the!top!of!the!main!screen:! !

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Your!list!will!be!sorted!chronologically ! no! matter!what!order!they!were!entered!in.! !

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First,!notice!the!dates.!Unlike!other!tools,!you! can!use!approximate!dates!in!TimeFlow! ?? ! it! handles!and!displays!dates!entered!as!years,! months,!days!or!date!and!time.! !

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An!entry!with!both!a!start!and!end!dat e!is! shown!as!a!span!and!a!start!date!alone!is! represented!as! the!event!date:! !

represented!as! the!event!date:! ! There!are!several!types!of!data!in!TimeFlow.!

There!are!several!types!of!data!in!TimeFlow.! The!key!one!is,!of!course,!a!date/time!value!to! place!the!data!on!the!timeline.!A!“URL”!type! links!to!source!material;!a!“list”!is! a!small!set!of! values!that!might!apply!to!a!single!record,!such! as!the!people!or!organizations!involved!in!an! event!or!subject!tags!used!for!colors!and! filtering.!!(Details!are!covered!in!the!section!on! “creating!your!own!timeline”) !

You!can!also!view!data! in!the!timeline!itself.!! Anytime!you!mouse!over!a!point,!you!see!all!of! the!data!for!that!point:! !

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Getting'oriented'on'the'timeline '

Switch!back!to!the!timeline!view!using!the!

controls!at!the!top!of!the!screen.!There!are!four! sections!to!the!timeline!alon g!with!the!main! window:!! !

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This!timeline!defaults!to!the!entire!span!of!the!

data,!including!the!1990!law!holding!owners!

responsible!for!oil!spills.! !

responsible!for!oil!spills.! ! The!small!section!at!the!bottom! is!one!of!several!ways!to!

The!small!section!at!the!bottom! is!one!of!several!ways!to! navigate!through!time.!Click!on! a!year,!month!or ! day!to!zoom!in!on!that!period.! Because!we’re!looking!at!the!BP!oil!spill,!the! first!step!might!be!to!zoom!in!2010.! !

You!might!want!to!zoom!in!a!little!further!to! just!months!of!April! – ! June!2010.!You!can!do!

this!three!ways:!!drag!your!mouse!around!the! po ints!you!want!to!see!in!the!large!window !

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or!narrow!the!band!on!the!small!navigation! pane!on!the!bottom!of! the!timeline!by!clicking! and!dragging!its!edge:! !

the!timeline!by!clicking! and!dragging!its!edge:! ! Finally,!you!can!double ? click!in!an!area!of!the!

Finally,!you!can!double ? click!in!an!area!of!the! main!timeline!window!to!zoom!in!on!that! period. ! (It!doesn’t!work!well!until!you!start! narrowing!in!on!a!period!of!interest.) !

You!can!scroll!through!your!timeline!by! dragging!the!yellow!area!in!the!navigation!pane! at!the!bottom. !

Controls'in'a'timeline '

There!are!two!areas!of!controls!in!the!timeline! view .!In!one,!you!control!how!the!view!is! displayed.!In!the!other,!you!control!the!labels,! colors!and!groupings. !

Look!for!the!most!basic!controls!in!the!upper! left!panel.!It!changes!with!each!view!of!your! data!(calendar,!timeline!or!graph): !

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If!you!zoomed!in! too!far,!you!can!zoom!out!a! little!or!all!the!way!using!the!Zoom!control.! !

Here!you!can!also!choose!how!your!timeline!is! displayed.!“Diagonal”!is!good!for!small!timelines! like!these,!since!it!shows!as!much!text!as! possible!like!a!set!of!stairs:! !

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For!larg er!timelines,!this!view!sometimes!makes! you!think!a!pattern!exists!when!it!doesn’t.!Then,! a!“loose”!view!might!be!better:! !

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For!a!very!large!timeline,!you!might!use!the! “graph”!view!to!help!you!navigate!to!areas!with! a!lot!of!entries. !

The!lower!left!secti on!of!the!controls!stay!the! same!no!matter!what!view!you!have!of!your! data:! !

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(Dot!size!is!reserved!for!data!that!has!number! values!in!it,!such!as!campaign!contributions.!In! this!case,!if!we!had!the!size!of!the!oil!slick,!we! might!choose!to!use!it.) !

T ry!playing!around!with!it,!envisioning!various!

stories.!In!this!view,!all!of!the!groups!have!been!

removed!and!we’ve!selected!the!red!“BP”!actor! to!see,!in!context,!what!BP!had!done!during!the! spill: !

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All!of!the!points!are!still!visible,!but!the!ones! not!s elected!are!grayed!out!to!highlight!your! story.! !

Calendar'view '

Sometimes!looking!at!a!calendar!is!easier!than!a!

large!timeline.!When!you!click!on!Calendar!on!

the!top!navigation!menu,!it!always!takes!you!to!

the!first!point!in!your!timeline,!in!this!case!the !

1990!law!holding!oil!companies!responsible!for!

spills.!! !

Scroll!down!to!a!more!interesting!time: !

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The!calendar!keeps!the!settings!you!made!on! the!timeline,!so!it!is!highlighting!the!BP!actions.! Days!in!which!there!are!no!events!are!grayed! out. !

Notice!ho w!the!options!on! the!upper!left!of!your! screen!have!changed.! ! For! large!timelines,!this!view! of!the!dots!will!show!you! the!most.!But!for!small! ones!like!this,!you!might! want!to!see!the!labels. !

ones!like!this,!you!might! want!to!see!the!labels. ! ! Sometimes!you’ll!see!half!a!dot,!or!a!dot!with!
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Sometimes!you’ll!see!half!a!dot,!or!a!dot!with! more!than!one! color.!That!means!it’s!got!more! than!one!category!chosen: !

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Practice'questions'for'viewing' timelines'and'calendars: '

1. When!did!President!Obama!first!visit! the!spill!site?!Where!was!he!the!day! before!his!visit?! 1 !

2. Did!BP!executives!see!appear!before! Congress!b efore!or!after!oil!began! washing!ashore?! !

3. When!did!the!Interior!Department’s! Minerals!Management!Service,!or! MMS,!propose!stricter!safety!rules!on! offshore!rigs? !

(In!each!of!these!questions,!zooming!in!and!out,! selecting!different!actors!to!highlight!in!co lor! and!switching!between!calendar!and!timeline! views!will!help!you!see!patterns!easily.) !

Filtering '

Once!a!timeline!grows!to!more!than!a!few! dozen!events,!there!is!simply!too!much!to! digest!in!one!sitting.!That!is!when!the!tool’s! filtering!options!come!int o!play.! !

For!this!example,!we’ll!use!a!different!example! dataset:!the!Obama ? First!100!Days: !

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1 ! Note:!In!early!releases!of!the!software,!there!was! an!error!in!the!sample!data!showing!Obama!in!the!

Gulf!Coast!on!Apr.!28.!That!date!is!really!May!28,!

which!was!corrected!in!later!releases. !

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This!timeline!opens!up!to!a!slice!of!the!first!100!

days,!visible!on!the!bottom!navigation!view:! !

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Zoom!out!to!100%!and!take!a!look!at!the!“global!

controls”!on!th e!left!to!get!yourself!oriented.!! You!may!not!have!noticed!it,!but!there!is! another!indicator!on!the!left!menu:! !

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This!tells!you!that!all!of!the!items!in!the!dataset! are!being!shown! – ! there!is!no!active!filter. !

Right!now,!the!data!is!being!shown!by!the!pl ace! of!the!event! – ! the!White!House,!D.C.!or! somewhere!else.!The!most!frequent!places!are! listed!first!on!the!list.! !

To!get!a!different!view!of!the!data,!try!switching! to!a!view!that!shows!“tags”!with!no!groupings,! then!highlight!“stimulus”:! !

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While!there! is!still!way!too!much!to!look!at,!it! becomes!easier!to!see!the!patterns!of!the! stimulus!bill,!which!he!signed!on!Feb.!17. !

Switch!to!the!“Filter”!view!using!the!tab!on!the! top!left:! !

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At!first,!all!you!see!is!an!empty!search!box.!But! you!can!add!in!any!of! your!categories!from!the! dataset!under!the!menu!item!“Filters”: !

dataset!under!the!menu!item!“Filters”: ! ! i ! Add!“tags”,!“who”!and!“entry!type”!and!

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Add!“tags”,!“who”!and!“entry!type”!and! “location”!to!the!filter!list!by!checking!them!off! on!this!menu:! !

(You!may!still!have!a!color!highlight!shown.!If! you!do,!flip!back!to!the!timeline!a nd!clear!all!of! those!selections!by!clicking!on!them!again.) !

Now!you!have!a!list!of!items!you!can!choose! from!in!the!left!hand! column:!! !

from!in!the!left!hand! column:!! ! The!color!map!reminds! you!how!to!read!your! timeline.! !

The!color!map!reminds! you!how!to!read!your! timeline.! !

These!tags!were!made!

up!as!the!data!was!being! typed!in.!They!are ! not! mutually!exclusive! – ! an! entry!could!both!be!a! “reversal”!from!previous! policy!AND!an!“energy”! action. !

Let’s!first!look!at!how! quickly!Obama!reversed! policies!of!the!Bush!administration,!and!what! those!first!actions!were:! !

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(If!your!example!looks!diff erent,!flip!back!to!the! display!view!and!switch!it!to!“Diagonal”!on!the! upper!left!panel.) !

It’s!pretty!simple!now!to!look!through!the!

events!that!marked!a!reversal.!Now!try!looking! at!the!stimulus!program:! !

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This!is!much!bigger!and!might!need!more! filteri ng.!!Let’s!look!just!at!trips!taken!to! promote!the!stimulus:! !

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(Note:!the!counts!you!see!next!to!each!item!are! unfiltered ! counts.!In!the!example!above,!there!

are!22!entries!for!all!trips,!not!just!those!for!the!

stimulus.) !

This!narrows!your!view! to!just!n ine!items:! !

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! This!narrows!your!view! to!just!n ine!items:! ! ! ! You!can!see!that!the!better!you!tag!your!data,!
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You!can!see!that!the!better!you!tag!your!data,! the!easier!it!will!be!to!use!later!on.! !

Finally,!you!can!do!the!equivalent!of!a!full ? text! search!for!keywords!or!phrases:! !

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Regular!expressions!(not!case!sensitive)!are!also! available,!but!not! documented,!in!the!search! box.!In!this!case,!it!searches!for!Michelle,!Sasha! or!Malia.! !

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Editing'a'timeline '

There!are!several!ways!to!edit!your!timeline.! The!easiest!way!is!on!the!timeline!itself.! !

To!follow!this!example,!clear!all!of!your!filters! on!the! Obama!first!100!days’!example!from!

either!the!Display!or!Filter!view:! !

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I’ve!also!

turned!off!the!

grouping!and!

colors!to!get!a!

clean!view!of!

the!timeline,!

and!narrowed!

my!view!to!

late!January: !

and!narrowed! my!view!to! late!January: ! To!edit,!right ? click!on!a!point!in!the!timeline:! ! ! You

To!edit,!right ? click!on!a!point!in!the!timeline:! !

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You ! can!delete!the!event,!edit!it,!or!add!another!

on!the!same!day.!(If!you!didn’t!select!an!existing!

event,!you’d!just!have!the!opportunity!to!add! one.) !

If!you!choose!“Edit,”!you’ll!get!a!form!to!fill!out:!!

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In!this!case,!we!might!want!to!add!people!to! this! National!Prayer!service.!(If!you’ve!defined! your!data!field!as!a!list,!the!way!this!one!is,! separate!items!with!a!comma.) !

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Adding!a!lot!of!events!is!probably!easier!from! the!calendar!view:! !

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The!advantage!of!using!these!views!over!the!List! and!Table!vi ews!is!that!TimeFlow!keeps!your! place!as!you!edit.!On!the!other!views,!you!will! have!to!scroll!back!to!where!you!left!off. !

Creating'a'timeline '

If!you!haven’t!already!typed!your!information! into!a!spreadsheet,!one!way!to!create!a!timeline! is!to!start!from!s cratch.!In!the!menu,!choose! File,!New!from!Template,!to!choose!some! existing!setups.!You!will!!probably!use!the! template!“Events!with!start!and!end!dates”!as! your!model. !

Add!fields! – ! the!kinds!of!information!you!want! to!enter,!such!as!a!label!for!the!timel ine,!a!long! description!or!tags,!under!“Edit,”!“Add!field”.! Add!records! – ! an!entry!in!the!timeline! – ! in!the! same!way,!or!directly!on!the!timeline!or! calendar!itself. !

Importing '

Right!now,!importing!from!a!spreadsheet! replaces!all!of!the!existing!data! – ! ther e!isn’t!a!

way!currently!to!add!to!your!dataset. !

Importing!from!a!spreadsheet!is!done!two! ways:!by!copying!and!pasting,!or!by!saving!as!a! text!(“TSV”!or!“CSV”)!file.!Most!often,!you’ll!just! copy!and!paste. !

One!trick!in!using!spreadsheets!as!your!data!

entry! is!to!define!your!date!fields!as!“text”! rather!than!“General”!types.!The!reason!is!that! TimeFlow!is!more!forgiving!than!Excel!in!its!date! formats!and!the!precision!it!expects,!so!it!can! handle!information!that!can’t!be!well!sorted!or! represented!on!a!sprea dsheet:! !

represented!on!a!sprea dsheet:! ! ! ! To!get!the!data!into!

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represented!on!a!sprea dsheet:! ! ! ! To!get!the!data!into!

To!get!the!data!into! TimeFlow,!select!all!of!your!cells!and!copy.!This! data!will!replace!whatever!you!already!have! open,!so!consider!starting!a!new!timeline!to! make!sure!you!don’t!lose!any!other!work. !

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Select!the!text!in!the!import!box,!then!pa ste: !

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Once!you!import,!TimeFlow!will!guess!what! kinds!of!fields!you’ve!imported!and!give!you! some!basic!statistics!about!them:! !

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We’ll!want!to!change!those!guesses!in!some!of! these!cases.!The!“actors”!are!used!as!tags!for! filtering! – ! each!row!has!a!lis t!of!actors!in!the! event,!and!we!want!them!to!be!split!up!when! they!are!imported.!Change!“text”!to!“list”!when! you!want!TimeFlow!to!treat!it!that!way:! !

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Do!the!same!thing!with!the!“tags”!field.! !

This!data!also!has!a!column!for!the!direct!link!to! stories! that!acted!as!the!source!for!the! information.!!TimeFlow!correctly!guessed!it!was! a!URL!field,!but!it!might!not!have.! !

Best'practices' '

There!are!also!a!few!best!practices!for!reporting! with!timelines!built!into!this!data.!First,!there!is! a!source!for!each!r ow.!This!dataset!was!built! from!news!reports,!so!it!simply!records!which!

news!source!and!then!the!link!to!the!story.! There!is!also!a!field!called!“work!status”,!which! says!whether!or!not!the!data!has!been!fact ? checked!enough!for!publication.!That!way,!you! can!filter!for!only!information!you!need!to! check,!or!alternatively!only!information!you!feel! comfortable!publishing. !

It!also!has!an!“ID”!row!number,!which!helps! when!you!want!to!sort!in!the!order!you!entered! the!data.!For!instance,!you!may!have! accumulate d!many!points!from!a!single! document!spread!over!a!long!period!of!time.! This!will!help!you!get!back!to!the!way!you!saw!it! originally!if!you!have!to!fact ? check. !

Once!you’re!happy!with!your!decisions,!click!the! “import!this”!button.! !

You!may!still!have!to!ch eck!some!default! settings.!In!this!case,!the!data!had!fields!that! were!named!“start”!and!“end,”!which!TimeFlow! recognizes!as!the!key!date!fields!in!your!data.! These!are!the!ones!that!will!be!used!to!place! the!points!on!the!timeline.!But!you!might!have!

othe r!names,!and!you!might!have!multiple!date! fields.! !

The!fields!used!for!your!timeline!are! determined!under!“Edit,”!“Set!date!fields”! menu:! !

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In!this!case,!we!need!to!add!the!“end”!date!to! use!as!the!ending!period!of!a!span!of!time:! !

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Notice,!too,!that!the re!is!at!least!one!record!

that!didn’t!have!a!good!date:!it!shows!that!97!

percent!of!the!“start”!dates!were!defined.!This! is!a!good!way!to!check!to!make!sure!your!data! was!complete:! !

One!of!the!easiest!ways!to!check!your!data!is!to! go!to!the!filters,!then!a dd!the!new,!“Unparsed! fields”!field!to!your!list. !

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You!can!select!all!of!the!non ? missing! “UNPARSED!FIELDS”!to!look!at!the!bad!data!on! the!list!view:! !

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In!this!case,!

TimeFlow!

didn’t!

understand!

the!“Sept”!

abbreviation!

for!Sept.!14,!

2009.!You!can!

just!fix! it!in!the!

List!view:! !

2009.!You!can! just!fix! it!in!the! List!view:! ! Once!it’s!fixed,!you!can!erase!the!entry!in!the!

Once!it’s!fixed,!you!can!erase!the!entry!in!the! “unparsed!fields”!so!that!you!only!see!the!ones! that!are!still!problems. !

You!can!check!to!make!sure!none!of!the!dates! are!missing!by!checking!the!“Summary”!tab!at!

the!top!right:! !

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Expor ting '

Right!now,!there!is!no!way!to!print!a!timeline!or! its!entries.!To!get!a!simple!list,!use!the!“File,”! “Export!HTML”!to!get!a!full!listing!that!can!be! printed!in!Word!or!another!text!editor.!Export!a! “TSV”!to!import!into!Excel!or!another! spreadsheet!pro gram.!(This!stands!for!“tab ? separated!values,”!and!will!be!imported!as!a! text!file!in!your!spreadsheet!or!database! program.) !

FAQ '

Q:,My,timeline,doesn’t,show,up.,The,dates,seem, to,all,be,there,,but,the,entries,are,in,1969. ,

A:!Check!the!menu!item!“Set!date!f ields”!to! make!sure!it!understands!which!columns!you! want!to!use!as!your!dates.!It!should!guess,!but! sometimes!it!doesn’t. !

Q:,Not,all,of,my,data,got,imported.,There,are, several,rows,missing. ,

A:!One!type!of!entry!is!particularly!difficult!to! parse:!those!wi th!long!narratives!that!end!with! a!quotation!mark.!Go!back!to!your!original!data! and!add!a!space!after!the!end!of!the!entry. !

Q:,My,“list”,fields,didn’t,separate,out.,They,are, still,being,shown,as,one,long,piece,of,text. ,

A:!Check!your!delimiter.!It!will!sep arate!based! on!commas. !

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