The history of timelines


18 Responses to “The history of timelines”

  1. Alan Olsen says:

    These timelines look like they were taken from “The Visual Display of Quantitative Information” by Edward R. Tufte.  (A very good book and highly recommended.)

    • Jeb Adams says:

      The amount of information in that latter timeline is mindboggling. It shows the size of the army vs time, some geography, the distance from France, the fucking weather! It’s amazing. Where’s the Visio template for this?

      • jimh says:

        A major point of Tufte’s work is concerned with data resolution. A basic timeline with events superimposed on a graphic depiction of dates along an axis is a low-resolution figure. We only learn when certain things happened. He believes that any information designer worth his or her salt will provide at least two (and perhaps more) levels of resolution, and that anything less is a waste of space.

        He uses the Napoleonic march to Moscow as an example of high resolution- as you point out, we learn a lot more about that journey than one element by studying the figure.

    • Fang Xianfu says:

      I love that book, and I love that map even more – it’s beautiful! And one of the very first examples of a graph, too.

      Highly recommend Tufte’s book for anyone trying to visualise large quantities of data (there’s a fantastic star map in there too), or anyone who’s ever been frustrated by people demanding that all numbers be displayed with a pie or bar chart.

  2. carabosse says:

    For anyone interested in maps or information design, I heartily recommend buying their book  It’s beautifully put together, one of my favorite cartography books.  Now that GIS software has evolved to a new level of integrating time and space, these design ideas are especially worth revisiting for inspiration.

    p.s.  I like this even better than Tufte’s books.

  3. fromnabulax fromnabulax says:

    Just as a point of interest, the explanation of the Napoleon time line is a bit too simple. The table shows in brown the population of Napoleon’s army on their march to Moscow, while the incredibly fast dwindling black line displays the French on their retreat.

  4. mkultra says:

    Someone really should do an infographic timeline of infographic timelines,  which could then place a smaller version of itself at the end.

    • kerowhack says:

      Yo dawg I heard you like timelines, so I put a timeline in your timeline so you can visualize chronology while you visualize chronology!

  5. Mujokan says:

    When I see that Napoleonic one I feel like I’m watching men in rags trying to cross a half-frozen river.

  6. no timeline of timelines?  disappointing.

  7. Selkiechick says:

    I have this book:
    And I love paging through it as a kid, trying to get a feel for what things were happening at the same time in the things we were discussing at school. Now that I am older, I want to spend a little time looking over the political parties chart on page 48.

  8. Mussels says:

    For those interested in mapping, the above two maps (along with 68 others that do similar, but not identical mapping tasks) are on display at Northeastern University’s Snell Library in the traveling Places and Spaces: Mapping Science exhibition. Very cool exhibit!

  9. DJ Schuldt says:

    Cartographies of Time: A History of the Timeline by Anthony
    Grafton and Daniel Rosenberg from Princeton Architectural Press is definitely my favorite book on the history of timelines. And it an absolutely stunning book.

  10. KonstantinS says:

    my fave infograph is found here :

    it’s mesmerizing how the globe with the colored rectangles and their size can pass all the necessary information. it’s my small fetish and i view it on daily basis :)

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