Linear Expression of History and TimeMapper

Representing complex ideas in a graphical form is such a difficult pursuit that perhaps there can be no perfect finished product, as complex abstract ideas cannot be wholly expressed in visual terms. Grafton examines one of the  the oldest and most common ways in which we visualize history, the line. The line as a metaphor is so ubiquitous it appears to be inseparable from our understanding of the passage of time, thus its universality in chronology and graphical representations of history. The line, however important when dealing with the order of things, presents an account of history in a one-dimensional manner. History, as Grafton notes, is filled with relationships, details and digressions impossible to translate into a linear format. Graphical representation gives context to fact, establishes relationships and introduces new information- such as geography- that one might initially overlook. Above providing additional  information, graphical representations allows one to easily digest diverse forms of data. Linn’s narrative is closely effected by the events hundreds of miles from his physical location, events like outcomes of distant battles and politics in both Washington and Richmond. The responsiveness of very distant events and the personal life of a single civil war tie in closely with the developments of the 1860s. A message from across the atlantic ocean, thousands of miles from Linn’s position could alter is narrative within a matter of days or hours. One of the major events of the 1860s was the laying of the first transatlantic telegraph cable


One of the most important events in the 1860s with an influence on Linn’s life.

. Immense changes  were underway during the 1860s that are very evident in Linn’s day-to-day narrative. In fact, the first four events on the TimeMapper follow a common theme; the creation of the first intercontinental railroad, the founding of the Pony Express, the opening of the Suez Canal and the invention of the bicycle.


Here we see the first four events in the Timemapper deal with developments in travel and communication.

The world was becoming smaller, information, people and goods could be transported at an unprecedented rate. Countries and continents were interconnected in ways never before seen in history. Thus we immediately see the interweave of the events from the TimeMapper timeline and Linn’s narrative.