Timelines have been a subject of curiosity and interest in the hypertext world for a long time. A two-dimensional portrait of time (and even a three-dimensional one) presents the problems of the depiction becoming detailed on an infinitely minute scale, or infinitely multiple, never being able to distinguish where one topic ends and another begins. They can become very complicated very quickly, and as Mark Bernstein once told me, “A timeline is only interesting if it is complicated!”
Hypertext helps with these problems, as it is able to reconcile some of the multiplicity through links, however timelines remain interesting to the field. And indeed, Shelley’s timelines are interesting because many of them resemble hypertext maps more than they do linear illustrations of time.