Talking to Pat Hanrahan at the European Tableau Conference, I mentioned the world history viz and then had the (beer-enabled) "aha" moment of using Tableau to take it one step further and allow the user to interact with it to find out more about a particular event or look at a particular year.
I had anticipated that I would have to figure out how the authors of the original viz had got hold of the data, scraped it again myself and then put the data into Tableau. Thankfully, they were kind enough to publish the data behind the viz for others to use.
The result is below. It took me less than an hour to create. During my session at the conference I talked about The Revolution that is Tableau. And for me, the speed of creation is that revolution. I can create fantastic quality, interactive visualisations which are published on the web in literally no time at all.
You can use the slider at the bottom or the drop down box to choose a particular year. Hovering over a particular point will bring up some information on the event (tooltip hat tip to Andy Cotgreave) and clicking on it will bring up a pop up window with the Wikipedia article that it relates to (you might need to enable popup windows to be able to do this).
For Tableau users out there, please download the workbook and enjoy pressing the play button below the slider (you might want to start at about 1500AD). You can also see a video here.
One caveat to note, is that the data behind this is based on English Wikipedia, so there is quite a western focus in terms of the events being shown.