Visualisation is widely believed to bring many benefits, assisting us in making sense of all kinds of information. To try to make diagrams of history – using timelines or some other kind of chronographics – may seem a simple task. We might regard time as ‘obviously’ linear, as ‘naturally’ flowing from left to right. But what shape should history be?
Stephen’s talk focuses primarily on the period in the mid-eighteenth century when the modern timeline was invented – tracing its typographic, pictorial and other roots and setting it in its intellectual context. He also gives some insights into the advances we can now achieve when chronographics are made digital and interactive. This will include asking: what are the requirements of such tools for serious historical work?
Stephen Boyd Davis is professor of Design Research at the Royal College of Art. His own work is concerned with visualisation, in which he is directing research students working with museums and archives.