Emergent Time timeline tool
Emergent Time is a prototype collaboration tool for humanists and social scientists working with interpretive narratives. Individual timelines represent the author’s reading of a series of events, each of which might be interpreted differently in other timelines. The tool thus balances personal expression and argument (in timelines) with collaboration and shared work (on events). In a given timeline, one can read horizontally to follow the narrative argument, or depth-wise to jump to different timelines that interpret a given event from other perspectives.
The prototype encourages readers to add source critique comments and to propose alternate versions of events, sparking general discussion about whether a given interpretation is well- supported by the primary sources cited. Generally, authors link to the version of an event that is best substantiated factually, passing over those with little evidentiary support or poor descriptions. Using an event in one’s own timeline constitutes both a signal of interest in the historical incident, and a vote of confidence in the event author’s scholarship.
The collaboration workflow thus serves as a macrocosm of the scholarly publication process, allowing authors and readers to evaluate evidence in support for a given interpretation and “vote with their feet” by citing it rather than another in their own work. Based on the resulting network of citation links, the prototype generates overview timelines that indicate the most important events for a given search topic. These overview timelines trace an outline of the community’s normative interpretation at a given moment.
Re-Imagining the Archive
THE ROLE OF PROCESS AND DOCUMENTATION IN CREATIVE WORK /
A CASE STUDY OF MIT ACT’S FUTURE ARCHIVE PROJECT
Madeleine Clare Elish, Research Assistant
Part of HyperStudio’s ongoing research agenda in the field of Digital Humanities is to explore the ways in which digital tools can assist and augment humanistic research and education practices. This research paper is to explore what it might mean to create a digital platform that assists and facilitates a creative process. By investigating from a variety of angles a specific case, MIT’s Art, Culture and Technology (ACT) Future Archive Project, we hope to illuminate the possibilities of such an endeavor as well as potential sites of friction. Broadly, this case study stands as an emblem of a current problem facing many humanists – a problem that can and should be addressed through Digital Humanities projects. The complex necessity to gather, store and organize a range of material confronts many humanists, from artists to designers to historians to economists. A platform, such as that described for the Future Archive Project, might be expanded or adapted to any project that involves gathering and displaying material. Moreover, the concept of the walled garden allows this kind of project to be readily adapted to a classroom setting. Above all, this case study demonstrates the great potential digital tools offer in facilitating creative and research processes.