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Monday, April 15, 2024

TimeSearch: Searching Through History

TimeSearch is an interestingly different search engine, since the focus is just on time, as one may expect from the name. It’s the brainchild of Bamber Gascoigne, (a well known British television presenter of historical programmes and academic quiz shows) and HistoryWorld.

The search options are fairly limited – to geographic areas of the world, themes (such as art, politics, science and so on), with the option of further limiting to specific sites such as the British Museum, Museum of Fine Arts Boston and so on. The searcher then pops into the search box the year they are interested in and TimeSearch responds with a timeline starting at that date and extending for about a year.

Entries are brief, but can be expanded to a more helpful paragraph. There are two sets of icons, one either side of the specific event which link to sites and images.

I quickly discovered that it makes sense to expand the results since the one line notation of events wasn’t always helpful. I would also have preferred more dating information. Oddly for a search engine that is emphasizing time, searchers only get the year that an event happened, nothing more specific; it’s necessary to click on a link and hope, and this is a very poor oversight by the designers.

There is a second search box which is for subject searching, but this merely takes the user to Google, Answers, the Wikipedia and so on and leaves them to their own devices from that point on.

This is probably the most annoying drawback of the system – while it is all well and good to be able to search a specific period of time, this search engine does not help if I need to discover when the American Civil War started for example. Once I know that it’s 1861, I can get a lot of useful information, but if I don’t know that at the outset, I’m stuck.

Other than that, it’s certainly an interesting search engine and one that I could see being widely used within the education system. A little more development could turn this from a good search engine into a great one, and I’ll be keeping an eye on it in the hope it does just that.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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