A new frontier in JFK research

A sample from the JFK Timeline Project

I’m excited about the JFK Timeline Project, even if I don’t fully understand it.

I’m excited because, as I said in Dallas last November, the JFK research community needs to up its collective game, get into the 21st century, and exploit the information technology that is transforming our lives. Easier said than done.

But thanks to Brian Castle, a programmer extraordinaire and self-described “n00b” when it comes to JFK, we have a work in progress: a website that seeks to harness the power of computing to generate new insights about the events of November 1963.

Here’s how Castle put it in an email:

“My observations in this last 3 months of reading in the JFK space, have been a lot about ‘camps’ and ‘personalities’ and the like – and I find all that somewhat distasteful in a space of genuine research. I come out of academia, and we see a lot of that there too – research silos, fiefdoms, the whole nine yards. People get invested in their reputations, that kind of thing. Tends to … ‘slow down’ the progress, in the research in general.”

Too true!

Castle continues

“My thought has been, let’s throw some technology at this, and see what happens. The first and most basic tool I was missing (while I was wearing my n00b research hat), is something that lets me visualize timelines – quickly, easily, and precisely.”

Again, easier said than done. I admit I’m baffled by some of his explanations of how to use the site, so I’m still exploring it and trying to figure out whether it can help us in the search for truth. My exploration of the search tool makes me think the site needs to tap into more JFK records. But I’m sure he knows that. He reports that he is adding documents to the database all the time with a plan to go live on July 4.

I’m a tech n00b and others may pick it up more readily. So give it a try and let me an Brian know what you think.

Click here to start exploring the JFK Timeline Project.


14 thoughts on “A new frontier in JFK research”

  1. I’ve always thought that researchers should find a Big Data analytics company willing to do incisive queries of the 4-million documents released since the AARB. That technology would be of extremely high value to the cause.

  2. In terms of timelines.
    I realized this past week listening to The War and Peace Report that the United States began it’s decade long bombing of Laos in June 1964 a year later to the month when JFK delivered his AU speech.

    1. Registered with no problem; received email confirmation, even changed my password. The site is more than a bit puzzling. Do I understand a database goes live July 4, ’14? Would benefit from a more user friendly operator’s guide.

      1. Brian Kelshaw

        No joy so far, have emailed the webmaster, no reply yet. Frustrating because I’d just started my own Timeline thinking how useful it would be.

  3. I explored a bit. A little daunting and I don’t fully understand it either.

    Will that site provide a list of subjects that are cataloged or indexed with a timeline for each as newer information is added?

    1. Same. No confirmation email.

      In any event, I wonder what modern information technology has to do with unraveling the JFK case.

      1. Brian Kelshaw

        If it’s done right a well constructed timeline will help visualise certain events. Done well it could even reveal conflicts in the narrative, or highlight connections previously unnoticed.

  4. Nothing about the Carlyle group taking over the JFK museum? Probably the exact same type people who had him killed.

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