The Idea and Image of Historical Time: Interactions between Design and Digital Humanities


  • Stephen Boyd Davis
  • Florian Kräutli


The paper addresses the relationship between design and the digital humanities, asking what each can learn from the other and how they may make progress together. The focus is critical making in chronographics — the time-wise visualisation of history — based on the authors' historic research and current practice in visualising collections of cultural objects and events. This is situated in historic and contemporary contexts, arguing that the eighteenth century origins of the modern timeline have useful insights to offer in terms of objectives and rationale. The authors advocate a critical approach to visualisation that requires both design and digital humanities to face up to the problems of uncertainty, imprecision, and curatorial process, including in relation to time itself.

Author Biography

  • Stephen Boyd Davis
    Stephen Boyd Davis is Professor of Design Research at the Royal College of Art. His research is concerned with the visual representation of historical time, especially in interactive digital media. He combines historical investigation and the development of new practice, supervising PhD students in digital chronographics and writing on visualisation in the eighteenth century.;Florian Kräutli is a PhD candidate at the Royal College of Art. His area of research is between digital humanities and design; in collaboration with archives and museums, he explores how digital timeline visualisations enable knowledge discovery in cultural collections.