Constructing the Timeline: Simplicity and Order as Guiding Principles for the Visualisation of History
Andrea Worm, University of Augsburg
03:45-04:15 Wednesday April 3

The timeline is a visual concept of fundamental relevance to the western apprehension of the world, and also a key concept in mathematics. In graphs, time is usually reprensented as an axis, running from left to right, subdivided into regular intervals. However, the timeline is so deeply embedded within western culture, that its genesis and history are seldom reflected. In essence, the timeline is a conceptualization that originated in Western Europe during the Middle Ages and is the result of a very specific mind-set. This paper will focus on the early history of the timeline, and present some ideas on how a sense of order and simplicity was of fundamental importance for how the enormous and confusing ammount of historical data was put into a visually persuasive structure.