Wednesday, 28 July 2010

3D timelines

I discussed in March the use of the depthwise axis to represent the time dimension, highlighting a BBC project that unusually placed most recent time furthest away into the depths of the screen. As you travelled forward into the space you were travelling forward in time. I shall come back on a future occasion to these spatial metaphors of time, epitomised in English by phrases like ‘I look forward to seeing you.’

Another BBC timeline is embedded in a data visualisation created in conjunction with the University of Westminster, 3D Documentary Explorer [external link].
3D Documentary Explorer by BBC and University of Westminster in an AHRC-funded collaboration.

In 1996, Robin Kullberg, a postgraduate student at the MIT Media Laboratory, created a ‘Dynamic Timeline’ using full 3D. She wrote a short paper about it, accessible as a web page [external link], and her video of the system can be seen (and even downloaded) at the University of Maryland Open Video site [external link]. There are several weaknesses in the thinking behind the project – not least that the assumed advantages of 3D over 2D are not really discussed – but it is a remarkable piece of work.
Robin Kullberg: Dynamic Timelines: visualising the history of photography. MIT Media Lab 1996.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Paper at Electronic Visualisation and the Arts 2010 now online

The paper I wrote for EVA2010 [external link] with Emma Bevan and Aleksei Kudikov is now online on the BCS website [external link].

The presentation (to be delivered tomorrow, Wednesday 7 July) illustrates the range of ingenious graphical solutions, such as this...
Part of Stream of Time - Chart of Universal History from the German of Strass published by C Smith 1855 
... that have been used to represent time.

We focus on the issue of the Shape of Time, looking at the historic roots of the idea that time is a uniform container for events – Descartes, Newton etc, leading via Helvicus into the pioneering visualisations by Barbeu-Dubourg and Priestley discussed in other parts of this blog.

This leads into a discussion of the rationale for our own Historical Interactive Timeline.