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Visualising Time

This study investigates the visualisation of temporal relationships between objects. A popular method employed for such information visualisations is the time line consisting of a single horizontal axis along which temporal events or objects are depicted at specific points or intervals. The orientation of the temporal progression along the axis line will generally coincide with the orientation of the literary writing progression of the culture and language. For example a time line visualised in a Western culture with English as its literary base will exhibit a temporal progression orientation of early/left, later/right whereas Arabian culture with an Arabic literary base will exhibit the reverse temporal progression orientation. In both cultures and languages temporal metaphor use spatial concepts to describe temporal relationships with no discourse to transversal orientation. This is reflected by never hearing the phrase “the months to the right” but rather “the months ahead”. In science, Einstein showed via his special and general theories of relativity that time and space are interlinked. The scientific rationalisation of time and space along with the use of spatial concepts as temporal metaphor implies that the underlying perception of time is spatial. Information visualisations are the externalisations of our perceptions. Therefore temporal information visualisations should employ spatial visualisation techniques. This study evaluated spatial visualisation techniques for temporal information visualisations via a web survey. The spatial temporal information visualisations used in the survey employed no temporal cues such as time or date stamps but conferred all temporal progression via spatial cues. The findings from the analysis of the participant responses to the survey showed that spatial cues do impart temporal cues for temporal relationships.
Type of thesis
Clarke, G. (2013). Visualising Time (Thesis, Master of Science (MSc)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/7954
University of Waikato
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