When an event or something noteworthy happens, the information about that occurrence goes through a progression of stages where it transforms into different types of information. This is the information timeline, or information cycle. As facts are revealed and discussed, the story about that event becomes richer and often more clear. Information usually starts out on informal channels or through mass media. As time progresses, popular sources of information cover the event. Months and years later, scholarly sources of information may address the event as well.
While this is the general timeline from event to recorded knowledge, not all events will merit scholarly research. In addition, at any time, information can return to the beginning stages of the timeline if related events happen to bring it to public attention.
The following example follows an actual event as it progresses through the stages of the information timeline. The event is the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, commonly referred to as the BP oil disaster, in the Gulf of Mexico.