Time Magazine recently celebrated its 80th birthday (the first issue hit the stands in March of 1923), and it's only natural for any 80-year-old to take a look back at the territory covered and pick out a few significant milestones. Having done so, Time decided to share its navel gazing online, and from eight decades of reporting, has chosen 80 Days That Changed the World.
Opening with a brief Flash intro, 80 Days gives visitors three options in exploring the site's content. These complement the main feature with a gallery of all of Time's covers, and a smaller sampling of the 80 chosen events. Each event is given its own page (only fitting, considering they changed the world), with a single photo and a few hundred words. The very first choice not only recounts a historic event, but also reminds us of how difficult it can sometimes be to escape history. The entry (for October 29, 1923) marks the days that Kemal Ataturk changed Turkey from an Islamic empire to a secular republic - and reminds us of a decision that still resonates in such contemporary events as the recent election of an Islamic party, and the difficult relations between the US and Turkey regarding Iraq. (Other milestones with especially clear links to current events include the discovery of oil in the Middle East, the creations of the State of Israel and the People's Republic of China, and the discovery of DNA.)
In addition to such inescapable choices as the 1929 stock market crash and man landing on the moon, other choices include the Munich Putsch, the death of Lenin, the creation of Alcoholics Anonymous, Elvis and the Beatles, the inventions of the Pill, Prozac and Viagra, Apple Computer, and Star Wars (the movie). There are also a few puzzling selections, given the feature's title, for while it can't be denied that the impact of hanging chads in Florida and a subsequent decision by the Supreme Court has had global repercussions, it's difficult to see how the creation of the 401(k) plan, or the O.J. Simpson trial has changed the world.
Some selections include brief excerpts from contemporary Time coverage, and each page provides links to that decade's magazine covers and surveys of readers opinions about each year's most significant events. Visitors can also move directly to a specific date through a series of drop down menus along the top of the exhibit.
Time: 80 Days That Changed the World can be found at http://www.time.com/time/80days/.
(Another anniversary website worth visiting is the Year of the Blues 2003 celebrating the 100th anniversary of composer W.C. Handy's encounter with "the weirdest music I had ever heard." The site features an exhaustive calendar of Blues-related events across the country (with links to relevant YOTB features and event-specific websites where available), links to American (and a handful of international) Blues Societies, and a Blues Riff of the Month - where the musically inclined can find a bit of free instruction. Year of the Blues can be found at http://www.yearoftheblues.org/.)
Jim Regan is a graphics artist and writer who lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia.