1a. The following three images depict the graphical “nowslider” as it might be used in a display mode to indicate one person’s changing assessments of the past, present, and future. The nowslider itself is the mechanism at the bottom of the screen. Three points of interest are indicated, and as the user slides the “now” marker along the groove to each tic-mark, a differing interpretive timeline comes into view above the main (more “objective”) line. Here we see a fictional example from a real dataset, the Salem Witch Trials Project at the University of Virginia’s Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities. At the point of betrothal, an imagined future comes into view, complete with happy mood inflections and assumptions about coming events and temporal granularities.
1b. Next, the user slides the now-marker to its second point of interest, at which (in this imagined example) an accusation of witchcraft has been made against the young woman’s betrothed. The imagined future line fades from view and a new iteration takes shape. This time it is a re-assessment of the past, in which the moment of betrothal is now encircled by a mood of a different sort, and intervals of time both before and after that point take on dark inflections.
1c. Finally, the now-marker is moved to the last point of interest, in which we find that the fiancé has been acquitted of witchcraft. This prompts a new envisioning of the future on the part of the young lady. A wedding (the rectangular event surrounded by a mood inflection in the first iteration) is now re-scheduled, but it bears no such happy mood. Future intervals, moods, points, and granularity shifts are anticipated, but they bear ominous inflections. By sliding the now-marker freely, the user may call each of these line iterations into focus for analysis, interpretation, and as an aid to presentation or discussion.
2a. The remaining images are taken from a prototype demonstration using a similar imaginative interpretation of a real dataset: the Yancey Family Papers, part of the Virginia Center for Digital History’s Race and Place Project. Here we see a simple, uninflected timeline marking points, intervals, and events. Each object on the line is positioned and labeled, and may be associated with a text or image.
2b. This image shows the same timeline with inflections for mood (the dotted circles, regions, and fans), certainty or determinacy (in which the textures and alpha-values of the simple objects have been altered), and importance (the “weight” of points and events which warps the line itself). Color and intensity here serve as a labeling system, keyed – like all inflections – to a user-configured legend, which is not shown here.
2c. In this screenshot, two additional lines (depicting events relative to particular family members) have been pulled onto the stage. They may be moved and dropped freely at any point on the stage. Such layering effects facilitate comparison and pattern-matching.
2d. The final two screenshots show interactive granularity inflection. Here the region of the line preceeding the large point-marker has been compressed to indicate rapid subjective passage of time.
2e. Here the user has stretched the region of the line before the large point to indicate a slower perception of the passage of time. Like all of these demonstration timelines, this effect is best appreciated in its native, interactive medium. Prototypes, demos, and storyboards are available at the Temporal Modelling Project website: http://www.iath.virginia.edu/time.