Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Design Issues article published

My article for the journal Design Issues is now out.
The article discusses issues in the mapping of historical time to a graphical surface, focusing on the orientation of the time axis.

It contrasts the lack of intellectual debate on mapping time with the rich controversies over competing geographic projections. It is a step in the process of generating debate in relation to chronographics, and proposes a research agenda.

The article combines a synthesis of the literatures of cognitive science and gesture studies with original archival research.

  1. The first reveals that the metaphorical direction of time differs between verbal and gestural usage, and to a lesser extent between cultures. There is no "right" direction for time in graphics. 
  2. The second reports on my original investigations into the emergence of modern chronographics in the mid-eighteenth century when there was a shift from typographic, tabular layouts to truly graphical time-maps based on a changing model of time spawned by Descartes and Newton. Here, research into the timelines of Oresme (1350s) and Barbeu-Dubourg and Priestley (1750s) highlights for the first time their difficulties in finding the "right" direction for time.

The article is: Boyd Davis, Stephen (2012) History on the Line: time as dimension. Design Issues, 28 (4). pp. 4-17. ISSN 0747-9360.

At the moment it is downloadable free. The direct link to the PDF (7.4MB) is here:

Project blog launched

Florian's studentship on the visualisation of cultural data is going well.

He has launched a blog (called YYYY-MM-DD) of thoughts, articles and findings on the subject of time, cultural data and interactive visualisations which already offers some interesting articles.

Find it here:

Monday, 5 November 2012

Kerouac - On the Scroll

I did not know until I got my regular newsletter from the British Library just now, that Jack Kerouac wrote his On The Road on sheets of paper that he taped together in a continuous sequence.
The Library says:
Written over a period of three weeks in April 1951 in manic bursts of what Allen Ginsberg referred to as ‘spontaneous bop prosody’, Jack Kerouac typed the manuscript on rolls of tracing paper, which he taped together into a long scroll to avoid replacing paper at the end of the page and interrupting his creative flow.
We are delighted to welcome the 120-foot-long scroll to London for the first time. It will be on display in a specially-constructed case, alongside sound and printed materials from the Library’s collection.
As the tale itself, I believe, tends to the serial (ashamed to say I have not read it), the scroll is a nice model of that temporal linearity.
According to Wikipedia, the scroll was bought in 2001 by Jim Irsay (Indianapolis Colts football team owner) for 2.43 million US dollars.

On the Road: Jack Kerouac's manuscript scroll is open until Thursday 27 December 2012.

Information on the British Library site.