Finding specific information on the internet can be a daunting task. Some data -- especially chronological data -- is often hard to consume and interpret when it’s presented as a wall of text. One way to address this challenge is to use a timeline like the ones Dipity.com made available. However, anyone who relied on Dipity.com for creating sequences of chronological events will find out that the service is no longer available.
We took some time to follow the history of Dipity.com so that we can find out what happened to it. At the end of this article, we look at some alternate timeline services that you can use, now that Dipity is gone.
What was Dipity.com?
Writer Jude Fiorillo clarifies the idea of Dipity in his 2008 article where he introduces an interview with the CEO and co-founder of the company, Derek Dukes. Fiorillo says: "Dipity timeline tools allow you to manage online media by ordering related content chronologically." In the same interview, Dukes reports that Dipity was created as a response to a challenge the founders of the company were all encountering: "tools available that tell stories and provide backgrounds around particular topics (were) lacking because the web is so media-rich now" (Source).
According to Dukes, Dipity was created to provide a great starting point for anyone who wanted to understand anything. He reports that their ultimate goal was to create a situation where someone would say "hey, I want to learn more about a particular topic, I'm going to come to Dipity, get a set of aggregated knowledge that's crowd sourced, that takes advantage of all the social services that are connected and use the power of their communities" (Source).
How Did Dipity.com Work?
According to some reports, Dipity had around 8.5 million users only one year after it had been created. Even big names like the Washington Post, Huffington Post, and Seattle Times used the service. What attracted all these users to the site?
At the heart of the Dipity model was the ability to sort massive amounts of data by organizing it in chronological order. This model is based on the understanding that all a consumer wants is to get something specific from the data. Dukes explains that the "goal is to move from a big dataset into understanding" (Source).
The element of time is central to the presentations that can be created.
The History of Dipity.com
Dipity.com was founded in 2007 by BJ Heinley, Derek Dukes, and Zack Steikamp after raising an initial seed round of $900k from angel investors. In 2008, Dipity.com announced a 2.0 release. It had added a raft of new features, including social networking integration capabilities with services such as Daylife, Twitter, Flickr, and Digg. This second release presented the site's features in an easier to digest and more visually appealing manner.
What Then Happened to Dipity.com?
If Dipity.com had attracted 8.5 million users within a year of its launch and was also being used by big names in the media industry, it is a wonder then why it shut down. By the beginning of 2017, a search for the website was returning an error message, indicating that the domain no longer existed.
There are no reliable reports as to why Dipity.com shut down its website. It can only be speculated that this is one of those resources that were abandoned by their owners for reasons that we may never know.
One of the founders, Heinley, later went on to launch Thinga, a now-defunct kid-focused search engine. This search engine was in response to the shutting down of Yahoo Kids, a website started by Yahoo to deliver age-appropriate content suitable for children between the ages of four and 12.
There are several companies which still offer a timeline-building service. Below are a few of the services we found.
Sutori places itself as the ultimate alternative for Dipity when it says, "Looking for an alternative to Dipity.com, which has shut down? Look no further than Sutori.com - we're a great alternative to traditional timeline tools such as TimeToast and MyHistro".
Even though Sutori.com seems to offer services for business, it looks like its primary goal is to attract educational institutions looking for collaborative presentations. The service is suitable for teachers of different languages, including English, Social Studies, and Science. Professors and storytellers will also find this service useful.
You can obtain more information about this service at Sutori.com.
Considering that there are thousands of timelines out there, one may ask what makes Tiki-Toki's timeline special. According to the developers of this timeline, the fact that you don't need to download anything is a convenience you will not find in every other timeline maker out there. They also note that "no other online timeline maker allows you to view your timelines in 3d" (Source).
Examples of projects you can accomplish using Tiki-Toki include personal diaries, timelines of famous people, or the history of your family. This timeline is also great for teachers and pupils who want to explore historical events.
You can see some examples of great timelines created using this timeline here.
Timetoast describes itself as simply the "place to make timelines on the web." A close analysis of its website shows that this timeline is suitable for several tasks, including creating a timeline for a product launch, planning a vacation, or teaching a history lesson.
You can see some popular timelines created using Timetoast here.
Timeline Maker names the computer giant IBM, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and British Airways as some of its clients spread over 86 countries.
According to the developers of this timeline maker, the service is mostly suitable for researchers, investigators, and planners. Regarding the reason this service should be the timeline maker of choice for anyone, they note that it is easy to use. It also gives a user the capacity to create five different timeline styles with one-click.
You can see a demonstration of how this timeline maker works by playing the video below.
Preceden describes itself as a "simple yet powerful timeline maker that helps you quickly create great-looking timelines" (Source). The developers of this timeline creator say that it is suitable for different contexts, including school projects, work projects, and anything else you can think about.
You can try Preceden for free by creating an account here.