The Story of HistoryMaps


O

nce upon a time, I loved reading picture books at the local library. Today, I'm still fascinated about stories that happened a long, long time ago from lands far, far away. When I decided to study History again, I wanted to create something to help me. This was how HistoryMaps started.

Learning History involves remembering dates, places, people, and events (who, what, where and when). Remembering things for the sake of remembering is just plain boring. I thought that there must be a better way to learn, retain what I've learned...and make it fun!

Most history websites focus on SEO rather than offering valuable educational content. In my opinion, Wikipedia is the only relevant online resource for History content but it's often organized thematically. To follow the story, you have to jump around the page; sometimes the events (or details) are on different pages. You have to combine multiple pages to tell a complete story. I curate the events chronologically in a comprehensive timeline so the story has a clear beginning, middle and an end. Adding a map, you know where those events took place. When you show a map or a timeline, you know where things fit, both in time and place. Adding images and videos brings these stories to life; Visual Learning is intuitive, retentive and engaging!

History is often portrayed as a sequence of isolated events, obscuring the intricate connections between them. Instead of a comprehensive understanding, we are presented with a fragmented picture, missing the depth and interconnectedness of events. With features like World History Timeline, you see events on a global timeline map. What events were unfolding in Japan when the Ottoman tribes were conquering Anatolia? Did you know that when the Romans invaded Britain in 43 CE, the Trung Sisters were establishing independence for Northern Vietnam from the Han Dynasty of China? Some of these events have no causal links, but some do.

Exploring history is like being a detective. We connect the dots between events, trace its cause and effect, and discover patterns uncovering a story larger than the sum of its parts. I'm experimenting with AI to create tools such as Histograph that helps you do this. It lets you find out how one historical event may have led to another. For example, did the Battle of Varna have anything to do with the Partition of Poland? Or is the Haitian Revolution connected to the Louisiana Purchase? You can dive as deep as you want to see where the dots connect.

The site is available in 57 languages to make it accessible to as many people as possible. I'm using a neural-network to translate the content and while the translations are not perfect, they are good enough. It's satisfying to see the content read in languages such as Uzbek, Vietnamese, and even Amharic (Ethiopia). Additionally, the site accommodates for the blind and visually-impaired users.

To keep the project sustainable, we have the HistoryMaps Shop. The shop is an extension of the HistoryMaps Project and brand. Users can purchase high-quality resources such as digital paintings, ebooks, etc and support the project at the same time. This will enable us to create/refine content, create long-form video content and add new 'fun' features to the site.

Lastly, the site is in a constant state of flux. New features are being tested. New forms of content, such as video stories, infographics, and articles(thematic), are planned. Content is continually added, revised and improved. Stay updated with the Blog. I want HistoryMaps to be the best brand about History and I have a lot more plans, ideas, and experiments. Oh yeah, because I love puzzles and secret things, I hid a lot of the features on the site! Can you find some of them? 😉

Nono Umasy
Founder of HistoryMaps