The Temporal Modelling Project

Capsule Summary:
The practical goal of this project is to create a visual scheme and interactive tool set for the representation of temporal relations in humanities-based or qualitative research, with particular emphasis on the subjective experience of temporality. Our rhetorical goal is to bring visualization and interface design into the early content modeling phase of humanities computing projects, with an eye toward both enriching the design aspects of established scholarly endeavors and making humanities computing attractive and comprehensible to students and faculty without specialized technical skills.

Update 2003:
Since our October 2001 presentation to its funder, the Intel Corporation, the Temporal Modelling Project has made great strides. Most exciting is our ongoing implementation of the Temporal Modelling PlaySpace, an online tool that allows users to generate visualizations and XML models of temporal relations in their own (heretofore undigitized) data. This site presents all of the research and design work leading up to the creation of the PlaySpace and demonstrates the Temporal Modelling Project's ongoing efforts in building innovative tools and in communicating its ideas to a wide community of academics and computer scientists.

What's Next?
The Temporal Modelling Project team continues to develop and refine its PlaySpace environment. Extensive testing with our partner projects, the Salem Witch Trials archive and Yancey Papers of the Race and Place project, is getting underway. Our goal for the final year of Intel funding is to complete, publicize, and refine the PlaySpace tool, while beginning development of a long-planned related environment for temporal modelling, the DisplaySpace. This tool will leverage the visual vocabulary of the PlaySpace (while adding additional provocative display features) to aid in the visualization of temporal relations in humanities data from exisiting archives and databases.

About the Project:
Johanna Drucker, director of Media Studies at the University of Virginia, is working in collaboration with graduate student Bethany Nowviskie and faculty and staff at IATH, VCDH, and other units within the College and University, on a project investigating time and its representation using digital technology in humanties-based research.

The project has three aspects of related inquiry. The first of these is an investigation of the ways time has been conceptualized (as an abstraction, an actuality, lived, subjective, sacred, relative, finite, cyclic, etc). We will seek to accumulate an inventory of models from a wide range of cultural, theoretical, and historical perspectives to expand our current conceptions of time. This investigation involves the creation of an archive of visual representations of time and engagement of a group of graphic design students (at Cal Arts, in a “virtual” collaboration) to create visual models of temporality. The second aspect of the project will focus on an investigation of the epistemological issues and representational possibilities of various visual models of time. The third aspect integrates data organization and analysis with visualization. We are building a multipurpose composition tool, called the "PlaySpace," which will allow users to visualize temporal relations in a variety of subjects and material, in advance of that material's being marked up or placed in a database. The PlaySpace will not only help users model temporal visualizations, but will also generate a standardized XML representation of each model, which can later be used in designing DTDs and other content models. Questions about the population of data structures and the principles underlying their organization will be linked to visualization that is driven by research queries of that data, in a "DisplaySpace" tool. Research and development of the DisplaySpace will connect directly to two case studies: the Salem Witch Trials Project (Ben Ray, IATH) and the Race and Place research project, specifically the Yancey Family Papers (Will Thomas, VCDH).

The Temporal Modelling Project is sponsored by a generous grant from the Intel Corporation. It is housed at SpecLab at the University of Virginia.

A full listing of consultants, team members, and seminar speakers is available.

Project Leads:
Johanna Drucker, Director
Bethany Nowviskie, Manager/Designer

 about the project | scholarly community | prototype design | research & reports | PlaySpace 2002/3 

Contact Bethany Nowviskie for more information.