How is information in Wikipedia structured?

Articles in Wikipedia can contain quite a bit of structured information. For example articles typically belong to one or more categories, and many pages such as biographies or world events will contain date information.

Take a look at David Bowie’s biography page as an example.

In the Infobox on the right hand side of the page are a number of key pieces of date information, and if you scroll to the bottom of the page you will see a large number of categories.

Histropedia is a tool that builds interactive timelines using this information. For example, have a look at a timeline of women “badder than Taylor Swift“.

By NavinoEvans (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Build a timeline based on Wikipedia categories

  1. Open Histropedia
  2. Click Start Exploring Timelines
  3. Type David Bowie into the search box at the top
  4. Select David Bowie filmography and Histropedia will build a timeline
  5. Type David Bowie into the search box again, and choose David Bowie albums
  6. Click Merge – now you have two timelines together.

You can add in more information based on other Wikipedia categories to build up whatever timelines you like. For example you could combine ‘Albert Einstein’ and ’20th century conflicts’ to build a timelines that shows the events Einstein lived through.

Timeline of Robert Louis Stevenson’s works

Bonus Prize – Create the most interesting timeline and tweet it out the link!

  1. Click the refresh button (bottom right) to clear the last timeline.
  2. Click Sign in to create an account on Histropedia so you can save your timeline when it is complete.
  3. Use the Category Tree on Wikipedia to identify categories you could import into Histropedia.
  4. Select a category and input it into Histropedia’s search bar.
  5. Click on the grey category icon to load the articles with dates into Histropedia.
  6. You can add another category and click Merge to merge the timelines.
  7. You can add individual articles to your timeline by searching for individual articles in Histropedia’s search bar.
  8. If the article has a + symbol in the search bar then it has dates associated with it and it can be added easily. If it does not then you can still add the event by clicking Create New Event and adding the dates manually.
  9. Clicking on an event and hitting the Edit icon (top right of event) will let you select dates and a picture for the event. Click Save and Add to Timeline.
  10. Click Save to save your timeline. Save New will save it privately. Create new directory timeline will publish it for others to enjoy and add to.

Bonus – do a live import!

  • Add ?c= to the url  for e.g. histropedia.com/timeline/q5bxtpg9bg0t/?c=Wham! songs

More data-driven timelines

(By Creator:Sebastian C. Adams [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)