TimeMapper is a great tool for organizing and representing events. Through TimeMapper, we can organize informations into a timeline of significant events. We often think of time as a linear line, however, time is nonlinear (Grafton, 20). Historical events usually don’t start and end in a linear fashion. There are many events happening at the same time with different causes and ends. Using timelines, we can illustrate time as an order of events.

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Above is our TimeMapper of the 1860s. The key idea of chronographic is not to design “more complex visual schemes” but rather to “simplify” it (19).  By treating time as a linear line, we can see the connections between different events in an era. For example, we often relate the 1860s to the civil war but there were a lot more happening in the 1860s than the Civil War. The Civil War took about 4 years from 1861 to 1865. There were also the American-Indian Wars and the inventions of telegraph and dynamite which we are oblivious to. Using TimeMapper, we can understand a lot more about the 1860s. Like Linn, we are confined to a certain amount of informations which we can only experience personally. In the diary, Linn was oblivious to the world around him. He was only concern with what he was personally experiencing. With the help of timelines, we can study history more chronologically correct.

Screen Shot 2014-10-05 at 11.27.32 PMThis is an example of many events that are significant but not directly correlated with the Civil War. Since time is nonlinear (20), the connection between events in a timeline is not easy to grasp. Grafton stated in his article that “the line can be everywhere because it is so flexible and its configurations so diverse” (13). We don’t usually associate the Indian War with the 1860s since the Civil War was considered more significant. Seeing the orders of events of the Civil War and this massacre, we can make the connection between the Civil War and the Indian Wars.

Skiing Invented During the Civil War

Personally, I think the relationship between ideas and modes of representation is very confusing. But visual modes of representation do help to clarify events in time.

For example, in class we made timelines of our lives and then our days. It was really interesting to see what you remember, but also helps to have it all mapped out on a timeline to clearly see the chronology of important events in time. “For Christians, getting chronology right was the key to many practical matters such as knowing when to celebrate Easter and weighty ones such a knowing when the Apocalypse was nigh.” (Grafton, pg 11) It’s not just important for ordinary people to use chronology to remember information, it can also help with dating significant events in time. However, in historical times there was no exact chronological order of every event that occurred. So people had to use visual modes of representation to get an accurate timeline of events. “Still, experiments continued. Some were graphic, like the effort to lay out all the main historical events on a calendar that stretched not from the Creation or Abraham to the present but from January 1 to December 31, with important events in the past stacked up day by day, through the year.” (Grafton, pg 17).Screen shot 2014-10-05 at 10.46.02 PM

It’s interesting to think about how time played out for Linn in his diary. It was also fascinating to see how really significant events in history occurred in the same years as Linn’s diary, so while the Civil War was going on. For example, who knew that the first transantlantic telegraph cable was used during the same decade as the Civil War was taking place. However, this would not have been as simple if we did not have the technology we possess today. It definitely made studying and comparing historical events easier and more accessible to the public. Although it is very eminent, we must remember that “Though technology plays an important role in our story, it doesn’t drive it.” (page 15) It was especially interesting that Linn didScreen shot 2014-10-05 at 10.45.40 PM not mention any important historical events that occurred outside his life in the Civil War. For example, skiing was invented in the same winter when Linn was writing in his diary. Although he did not have the Internet or any technology that would have allowed him to gain access quickly, I assume that word of a new sport like skiing would have been spread about in the United States as well, but there was no mention of skiing or any important event that occurred outside of his immediate realm.

TimeMapper and Chronology of events

TimeMapper is a tool that helps to organize historical figures and events in a chronological order. After you fill in the correct info for your specific event and submit the information, it is then documented in a google doc and is placed into the timeline. In our TimeMapper we created a database of historical events that were happening around the same time that Linn was writing his diary to see what events could relate to James Merrill Linn in the winter of 1862.

Chronology of events is important because if it wasn’t in the correct order the context wouldn’t make sense to the reader and they would have trouble following what was going on. Chronology illustrates the sequence of historical events.

Graphical representation clarifies historical events, because I believe it makes the information more clear and interesting to look at as opposed to just words. It shows the chronological order of events in an organized and easy to follow format.

TimeMapper doesn’t give any representation of the ideas, similarities and connections between different events except for time. In Linn’s narrative the timeline was very helpful in showing the chronological timeframe events were occurring in, but not the connections between the different events.


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Battle of Gettysburg

When I was reading Linn’s diary, I was sometimes confused with the specific events he was talking about during that time period. However, when I saw the timeline comparing his story to the rest of the history, I was able to better understand the context of certain events and have a better perspective of why certain things were occurring. TimeMapper helped me to see where Linn’s diary entries were in relation to history around that time period.


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King of Madagascar Strangled to Death

In Grafton’s essay he states how he believes that graphic representation is among the most important tools for organizing information. Grafton states that one of the reasons for the gap in our historical and theoretical understanding of timelines is that people generally consider chronology as a kind of study. He says people see them only as distillations of complex historical narratives and ideas. Chronologies work and that’s pretty much enough for the average reader. But this is a false belief. For example, from the classical period to the renaissance in Europe, chronology was held at a status higher than the study of history itself.After creating a timeline called the Chart of Biography, Priestley reveals that “historical narrative is not linear”. He claimed that a linear timeline does not represent the connections between events and historical figures in a precise way.

Blog Post 3: The History of Chronology

Throughout history, the ability to get chronology correct has been vital. Grafton states, “For Christians, getting chronology right was the key to many practical manners…” (1). It is after using Timemapper that I can truly appreciate how writing needs to be represented in a form that can easily depict change over time. What is Timemapper one may ask? Timemapper is an online tool that is used to piece together timelines in which one can choose the duration. For example, our class chose the 1860’s as an ideal time to create a timeline, thus resulting in the emergence of events I never knew happened in that time period.

What Timemapper does better than just a regular time line is that it puts a visualization of the event into the viewer’s head. Picturing time through just words on paper is a very difficult task. As Grafton points out on page 10, “…we typically see them as only distillations of complex historical narratives and ideas.” But, through an interactive timeline with pictures, we are able to comprehend events at a faster rate than if we were just looking at words on paper. For example, we can look deeper into an issue such as the publishing of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea while at the same time; see the impact of Alice in Wonderland in the 1860’s society. Timemapper helps give the viewer a short summary of the event and put a picture into that viewer’s head.

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Timemapper summarizing Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

In his essay, Grafton also talks about Priestley’s invention, the Chart of Biography. “Among the most important events of this period was the publication in 1765 of the Chart of Biography…” (Grafton, p. 19). This chart, revolutionary for its time, revealed the dates of birth and death of historical figures. In conclusion to this chart, Priestley and other theorists firmly believed that a linear timeline does not in fact help the user comprehend the information. Priestley’s chart was the first of its time and set the benchmark for timelines leading all the way up until today.

1765 version of The Chart of Biography

1765 version of The Chart of Biography


Downfalls of TimeMapper

Throughout my past experiences, I always believed that timelines were very useful in terms of understanding history. For starters a good timeline is aesthically pleasing and they can provide a perspective of important events occurring throughout the world. For example, when I am learning about the Civil War I can take a look at a timeline and see what events are occurring in other areas and see if they are relevant as timelines allow for easy comparisons, patterns to be observed, and interpretations to be made. In the article, Rosenberg and Grafton put a lot of emphasize on lines as the means of representing time. This illustrates how simple but still useful timelines can be. One simple line can give “visions of past and future,” which illustrates the importance of chronology (Rosenberg, Grafton, 11). Chronology is significant in understanding history because events in the past, drive the future. Through studying time, historians can make assessments as to why certain events occurred and what spurred them on. It is important to note that although a timeline may appear as simply a line, the makers of timelines must be given a lot of credit. Timelines can be difficult to create as Rosenberg and Grafton point out, because the events must “be revealed as possessing a structure, an order of meaning, that they do not possess as mere sequence” (11). It is not enough to place events together, they should have a deeper meaning that can be analyzed.

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Although I am a huge proponent of timelines, I do not find the TimeMapper that we made in this class very helpful. The timeline is very squished together which makes it difficult to search for connections among the events. Additionally, events related to history, sports, english, and miscellaneous events are all put together on the timeline. It would have been more helpful if we split up the events by category in order to make the events easier to analyze. The way I went about analyzing the connections and relevance among the events was by clicking each one and reading through the description given. By doing so, I was able to find some interesting connections. This timeline made it possible for me to discover that in the 1860’s the Suez Canal opened, the first bicycle was invented, the Pony Express was founded, and the first continental railroad was constructed. All of these four events are related to traveling and communication, which makes me wonder if there is a reason as to why they were invented around the same time, and if the makings of one or two inspired the others to be created. I would not be able to dig deeper into this connection if this timeline did not help me notice that they all began in the same period of time.

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One aspect of the TimeMapper that I did think was useful was the map. The map had blue ticks of where each event took place, and by scrolling over the blue ticks, you could see which event occurred there. For example, through the map I can find out that the First Transcontinental Railroad Construction occurred in North America. I could then continue clicking through the blue ticks on North America to discover other important events that happened in the 1860’s. I think that it is important to not only analyze events by times, but also by location too.

Since James Merrill Linn only discuses events that are specifically related to hScreen Shot 2014-10-05 at 7.32.42 PMim, and not in the world around him this timeline serves as a useful tool to enlighten us of the global issues and accomplishments of Linn’s time. For example, through this timeline I was able to discover that in 1861 the Fall of Fort Sumter was the battle that began the Civil War. This is important because it gives background to Linn’s experiences during the Civil War, and we can literally see where his diary entries fit in. There are other events that are specifically relevant to Linn and the Civil War such as the secession of the Southern States. Through this timeline I learned of important events that occurred both prior and during the war that Linn failed to discuss or mention in his diary entries.