Thursday, December 22, 2016

A new (digital humanities) tool: TimeLineCurator [#DH]

Johanna Fulda, Matthew Brehmer, and Tamara Munzner of the UBC InfoVis Group. From the online documentation:

Want to make a visual timeline, but don't have the time to draw one manually? Or maybe you have some documents, but you're not sure if the events they depict form a compelling timeline?

TimeLineCurator quickly and automatically extracts temporal references in freeform text to generate a visual timeline. You can then interactively curate the events in this timeline until you are satisfied, or quickly decide that there is no interesting temporal structure within the document. You can also create a mashup of multiple documents against each other to compare their temporal structure.

Already using TimelineJS? TimeLineCurator works with TimelineJS: instead of tediously assembling your timeline in a spreadsheet, TimeLineCurator allows you to curate your timeline visually. When you are ready, you can export your curated timeline to a TimelineJS widget that you can embed on your website or blog.

Web Application
Use TimeLineCurator v0.4 (alpha) here

Research Paper

TimeLineCurator: Interactive Authoring of Visual Timelines from Unstructured Text

Abstract: We present TimeLineCurator, a browser-based authoring tool that automatically extracts event data from temporal references in unstructured text documents using natural language processing and encodes them along a visual timeline. Our goal is to facilitate the timeline creation process for journalists and others who tell temporal stories online. Current solutions involve manually extracting and formatting event data from source documents, a process that tends to be tedious and error prone. With TimeLineCurator, a prospective timeline author can quickly identify the extent of time encompassed by a document, as well as the distribution of events occurring along this timeline. Authors can speculatively browse possible documents to quickly determine whether they are appropriate sources of timeline material. TimeLineCurator provides controls for curating and editing events on a timeline, the ability to combine timelines from multiple source documents, and export curated timelines for online deployment. We evaluate TimeLineCurator through a benchmark comparison of entity extraction error against a manual timeline curation process, a preliminary evaluation of the user experience of timeline authoring, a brief qualitative analysis of its visual output, and a discussion of prospective use cases suggested by members of the target author communities following its deployment.

Pre-Print PDF

TimeLineCurator: Interactive Authoring of Visual Timelines from Unstructured Text
by Johanna Fulda, Matthew Brehmer, and Tamara Munzner
To appear in IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics (TVCG).
Proceedings of IEEE Conference on Visual Analytics Science and Technology (VAST), Chicago, USA, 2015.  Download [Pre-Print PDF]

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From the FAQ:
How much text can I timeline-ify?: Around 10,000 words at once, that's around 12 pages. The current limit is a 30 second timeout from Heroku. We hope to fix that problem soon, stay tuned. For now, if your input text is larger, you could just split it into pieces and add them as individual documents.
So, it's not going to do Tristram Shandy. Could it do it, though, when the 10,000 word limit disappears?

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