Since memories become blurred as time goes by, the existing documents, journals and images are extraordinarily important records for people to understand history. Nowadays, historians tend to use both the chronology and geography to interpret history in a more digital way. “While history dealt in stories, chronology dealt in facts”.[Grafton] Chronology is widely used among historians. However, as what Hayden White described it as a “rudimentary form of histrography”[Grafton], chronology doesn’t give us all specific events which happened in a particular year. Its function lies in giving reader a line of the historical structure of that period of time. In this case, I inevitably related his words to the image which we were talking about this following image during the class.

“Conspectus of the History of Political Parties” (1880). Created just after the nation’s centennial, it translates a century of political history into a single visual picture.
“Conspectus of the History of Political Parties” (1880). Created just after the nation’s centennial, it translates a century of
political history into a single visual picture.

The shortage of this image lies in the missing history in the eighteenth century. It is easily recognized that the part which close to present time is much more twisted and complicated than the part in eighteenth century. It doesn’t mean that more events happened in the present time, but mean that most part of eighteenth century history were not written down.
As Grafton mentioned in the text, scholars in Europe used tables to record events which traced back as early as fourth century. Different from the typical chronologically tables during the fourth century, people have more convenient tools. During this week, we learned how to use TimeMapper and Timeglider. For me, TimeMapper is really interesting. Below is a screen shot of my slide— Great Wagon Road.

Great Road
Great Road

As Great Wagon Road is a very long road from Philadelphia to South Georgia, it’s really hard to make a specific location spot on the map on the right hand. Eventually, I choose the location where Payne mentioned Great Road in his Journal. When we are doing some readings, it’s hard to relate one event to another according to its location and time. However, TimeMapper did it for us. We can compare these events and search for whether they have any relationship. Another advantage of TimeMapper is that one can quickly find the slide they are looking for by zooming in and out the timeline at the bottom.
While TimeMapper give us a broader overview of historical events which has some relationship with the journals, the Timeglider timeline aimed to analyze the chronology of Payne’s journal itself. By inputting important event during their travel, such as what they did, where were they, when did that happen. We can also add images on the top to help interpret the whole case. Below is what I did for my part of the journal.pdf3

Timelines: History and Chronology in Spacial Terms

The somewhat young medium of displaying history, the timeline, reinvented not only how people chronologically present history, but also the way in which they think about history. According to Grafton, “The timeline offered a new way of visualizing history, And it fundamentally changed the way that history was spoken of as well”  (20). The chronological, linear representation of events is a fairly new tool as it was popularized in the eighteenth century. However, its use is so widespread now that many do not think of other ways to represent history.

In an attempt to make even more sense of the Payne and Froehlich Travel Journals, we used several timelines to both give context and display the details of their journey. As a class, we used TimeMapper to create a timeline of events from the 1740s, when Payne and Froehlich were writing. Our goal was to provide context for the journal entries. Below is an image from this timeline, we aimed t1740s TimeMapper Battle of Lauffeido focus our events to the US colonies at the time. This would allow us to reach a greater understanding of the journal entries by discerning their cultural context. The TimeMapper allows users to understand the story of the US colonies and the world during the 1740s. The chronology of events is important, as early events impact later ones. This timeline could have also been somewhat misleading, however, as there is a chance that we included events that were not relevant to the Moravians we were studying. If irrelevant occasions are included and emphasized as heavily as highly influential events, it is possible that we would gain false understandings about the material.

While TimeMapper allowed us to see the broader context for the journals, the TimeGlider timeline allowed us to show the chronology of Payne and Froehlich’s travels. We aimed to note the important events mentioned in their journals; showing where they went, who they met, where they stayed, and other details.  Being able to decipher what events helped to move their journey along and putting them on a timeline gave us the opportunity to view their story in a different way. As Grafton referenced W.J.T. Mitchell, “The fact is that spatial form is the perceptual basis of our notion of time, we literally cannot ‘tell time’ without the mediation of space” (13). This emphasizes the importance of spacial relations to telling time and ultimately understanding stories. TimeGlider allowed us to see the spacial reTimeGlider Payne:Froehlich Travel Diarylations between specific events that occurred day-to-day for these men. To the right, is an example of my contribution to the timelines. From this TimeGlider timelines, we are able to see the interactions that the men had with different justices on different days. After combining all of the events onto one timeline, we will be able to see the travelers’ complete story.

In both TimeMapper and TimeGlider, the timeline creator is able to insert images, graphics, and texts that further elaborate on each point. This enables even more details to be provided for events. These digital additions to timelines allow users to gain deeper knowledge about the events.

Grafton points out that timelines as they are not entirely helpful as, “historical narrative is not linear” (20). He mentions the complex ways in which events interact and influence one another. This is an extremely valid point to make when speaking about the traditional timeline. However, the use of digital humanities and tools such as TimeMapper and TimeGlider, somewhat addresses this issue. As previously mentioned, these tools allow for more detail and therefore creates a more coherent and accurate narrative. The tools also allow the timelines to be concise and neat, while still containing copious amounts of information.

Creating timelines for both the travel journals themselves and the historical context of the journals helped to make sense of Payne and Froehlich’s journey. Their story can now more clearly be interpreted not only by its chronology, but also by the details of the events and the spacial representation of time.


As Grafton said “graphic representation is among our most important tools for organizing information.” (Grafton, p. 10), time maps and timelines are quite helpful for the study of history. These tools for organizing historical events match “our mental furniture” (Grafton, p. 10) which shows our favor on visual forms. Chronology organizes information in a pattern. It is always with time and events in order or images with time on it.

we can explore the relationship among different events by divide them by time or by space with the help of timeline or the map.

As technology developed, we now have computers with more advanced chronological tools. Timemapper, for example, turns time and location in the information into visual images. Instead of using chart, we put events on a straight line in time order, which can better show more specific time sequence and time distance between each other. We can also trace the event to the map, by which we can find the space distance between different events. By comparing events happened in different time and space, we can find out more things that have not mentioned in the texts—the hidden relationship of different events. By finding similarities of time and space and events, which can be easily seen on Timemapper, we can connect different events and tell a story—an event can be the cause of the next event or the effect of an earlier event.

“The timeline offered a new way of visualizing history” (Grafton , p. 20), Timeglider gives a good example for this. Timeglider compacts pages of gliderinformation into short titles in order which would be more clear and easier to understand. It is interesting that it organizes titles into “stairs” in order. In Payne’s Travel Journal, for example, we can figure out the route Payne and his partners traveled. We can also figure out the time they spend on different place simplely by seeing different distance between different titles. Titles that are close to the same vertical line show that Payne and his partners arrived in one place and quickly moved to another. Knowing this can help us find out the place where they spent more time staying in and that place would probably be an important place in which important events happened.


Without chronology, history is just a million different little stories thrown together. According to Grafton, “While history dealt in stories, chronology dealt in facts.” (Grafton, 10) Chronology adds order and reliability to history. The chronology of events has shown Christians, for example, “when to celebrate Easter” or when other important events may occur (Grafton, 11). It is also useful for combining and comparing more than one “line” of events. For example, we can compare the history of a certain place in the world to another place and see which events happened at the same time and create an even broader history of events.

Modern timelines can show more than just the chronology of events. We can represent history not only via the chronology, but also via the importance and the geography of the events. Grafton observes that “Teachers and theorists claimed, over and over again, that chronology and geography were the two eyes of history: sources of precise, unquestionable information, which introduced order to the apparent chaos of events.” (Grafton, 17)

1740's timeline in TimeMapper.
1740’s timeline in TimeMapper.

TimeMapper “clarified” historical events by adding a geographic aspect to each event. Along with ordering the events in chronological order, it also adds a pin onto the map for each event. Timeglider on the other hand, adds the importance aspect to each event. Along with ordering the events, you can adjust the size of the text of each event to signify the importance or relevance of each event depending on the subject of the timeline and ultimately the judgment of the creator.

Timeline of Jasper Payne's travels, 1747.
Timeline of Jasper Payne’s travels, 1747. In Timeglider.

Although each mode of representation offers a different “clarification” of the historical events, each one may also obscure parts of it. Sometimes it may look like two events occurred in the same location on the map in TimeMapper when in fact they occur in two different places just very close together. In Timeglider, events may be deemed unimportant when they should have been more important. These tools rely on the creator’s judgment and willingness to do deeper research before creating the timeline.

The point is, a line does not just represent the chronology of events. It is indeed a visualization of events over time. Therefore, it does not even just tell us a story; it shows us a story.


Chronology is the science of arranging events in their order of occurrence in time. It is really important to us because it determines the actual temporal sequence of past events. While historical texts have been subject to critical analysis, we ignored the formal and historical problems posed by graphic representations of time, the most important tools for organizing information for a long time. The “timelines” used to present the history is simple and intuitive while are not without a history themselves. At the same time, it shows us a story of history that held a status higher than the study of history itself. This week, we have experienced the Timemapper and the Timeglider to analyze the transcript of Payne Travel Journal. Let’s explore more with these two tools.

The web-based timeline software Timeglider is kind like Google maps, but it’s for a time. We can create and collaborate with other’s work together as interactive timelines. I can add the event from Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 7.26.53 PMthe journal with the time, dates and the images of the event. Also, I can edit each event in different words size with different color theme according to the importance of the event. By zooming in and out of the timeline, I will gain a broad view of the sequence of major events happened, which creates a brief outline of the story.

Chronology is also the study of the geologic time scale. Grafton observes that chronology and geography were the two eyes of history. In geography, the visual metaphor fits beautifully. By plotting geography, chronologies became precise and testable in a new sense and passion for exactitude to represent time in novel ways.Timemapper is one of the interactive timeline whose items connect to a geomap. Compare to Timeglider, Timemapper shows us the different events that happened in the same period with different location arouScreen Shot 2015-02-20 at 7.25.22 PMnd the world. When I looked over the Timemapper we created in the period of 1740s, it gave me a chance to think about the story and the relationship behind each event. However, the exact place of the events might be difficult to locate since the location’s name and boundary might change over time.

Blog #3 Timelines

Thinking about how we represent history has been a question that has occupied us for millennia.  Why does chronology of events matter?  What can it show?  How can we represent history?

In his Introduction, Grafton observes that “Teachers and theorists claimed, over and over again, that chronology and geography were the two eyes of history: sources of precise, unquestionable information, which introduced order to the apparent chaos of events” (Grafton, p. 17)

In the process of compiling your entries for the collective 1740s Timemapper and the Travel Journal Timeglider how have you come to terms with the complex relationship between ideas and modes of representation?  How have the two modes of representation “clarified” historical events?  What might they also have obscured?  Does a line tell us a story?  Or just chronology?

Write a 300-word blog on this topic.  Include at least three points from Grafton’s Introduction in your entry and at least two illustrative screen shots from both the Timemapper and the Timeglider. Post under category “Contextual Research” and Blog #3.

In addition, choose one of your classmates’ posts and give them feedback in the Comment box. Your comment should be 50-75 words in length and respond to a specific argument that is made in the post. For example, your comment might identify a correlation between your own post and one you see in your classmate’s work; it might introduce to the post’s author a different reading of something they interpreted in the Grafton essay; or it might reflect upon ways in which you both consider Payne and Froehlich’s experience within a larger chronological landscape.

Distant Reading

During the process of learning about Distant Reading last week, I found it quite interesting to capture the beauty of Distant Reading. Distant Reading, as Whitley mentioned in her writing, is not to take the place of traditional close reading, but to give readers a broader view of the whole documents in a quantitative other than qualitative way.
This is quite apparent when related to personal reading experiences. People intend to pay more attention to the feeling changes of the characters in the whole story since words are qualitative. In this case, you need to sniff what is hidden underneath the word, not just the word itself. However, various digital tools give us a more clear way, through giving numerical data, tree maps and other methods, to view the whole document in distance calmly and dispassionately. We transcribed the travel journal by Jasper Payne in 1747. At first, we read it as usual to get a general view of what they did every day during the journey, how they crossed the river, met the Justice and talked to Negroes. As Payne himself heavily involved in the event, his perspective is quite related to his religion and personal characteristic. In this case, readers will feel themselves also heavily got involved when reading. However, as we put the Travel Diary into Cirrus, one Voyant tool, the screen shows as follow.


When click at a specific word, a axis graph on the top right shows the frequency of this word that appears in the text.


By studying this kind of graphs, we will be confused about what the logical relationship within the text and get a more clear view of what is going on quantitatively.


Link is another representative tool to re-process this travel journal. As it not only display distant reading, but also spatial reading, the key words in the document are showed how they relate to each other. Another very interesting point in Whitley reading is related to the Poetess Archives, a visualization project that relate the flowery poetry in Britain and America between 1750 to 1900. This is quite attractive to me since human eyes are not able to directly gather these two together in a short period of time, but DH can. As what we did during today’s class, we put Travel Diary and Powell Diary, two documents which similar but not not, together in the DocuBurst. The image below is what came out in one second. This is really cool to use digital tools to connect 2 old documents.



On Distant Reading

Humanists always spend too much time on exploring useful information from tremendous humanity database. The theme of the book, the intentions of authors and the subtle evidence of the contemporary lives, culture and thoughts are all hidden in hundreds of pages, or even more, of humanity materials. However, nowadays, humanity exploration no longer consumes as much time as we had before. The distant reading method can help readers to compact hundreds of pages into simple visual images. Such images can not only help readers find what the author focus on, but also can help readers find the relationship between different terms. To better understand the distant reading method, I will use DH method to explore the question “what are the major groups of people Payne and Froehlich met” from the full compiled transcription of the Payne/Froehlich Travel Journal.

The picture on the right is cirrus which creates a word cloud in which the more1 frequently the word appear, the bigger the word.  By finding the large words, we can easily find out what the author mentioned most. Therefore,  to find who did Payne and Froehlich meet, we can simply find the large words of people’s name or people’s group. For example, the words “negroes” and “ brother” are large which suggests that negroes and brothers would be people Payne and Froehlich always care or meet.

To find the relationship among different people, Links would be a good choice. 2When I find the names of people, I clicked the names, and the links increased. It shows that “we” and “negroes” are linked together, which indicates an interaction between Payne and Froehlich and negroes. Also, the the Links shows no interaction between brother, children and negroes but an interaction between brother, children and Payne and Froehlich.

Bubblelines shows the relative locations of different words in the text. I put some3 of the names that I found form the cirrus into bubblelines. I find out that most “brother” and “children” spread at the front of the article and negroes spread from the middle to the end, which provides evidence that during their journey, Payne and Froehlich first pay a lot more attention on brother and children. Later, they pay more attention on negroes.

On Distant Reading

An distant reading tool called "Knots" from http://voyeurtools.org/tool/Knots/
An analysis of Payne’s Journal using a distant reading tool called “Knots” from http://voyeurtools.org/tool/Knots/

The picture to the left may look like a children’s drawing to most people, but in reality it is an analysis of the frequency of five different words in a document. Every time the word shows up in the document, the assigned, colored line takes a turn at a specified angle. This is a clever visualization, which Digital Humanists use for something called distant reading.

Distant reading is a useful tool for analyzing text from far away. Instead of closely reading every word of a specific document word for word, we can use tools like online applications or programs to analyze the types of words used inside of the document.

A distant reading tool called "Links" from http://voyeurtools.org/tool/Links/
An analysis of Payne’s Journal using a distant reading tool called “Links” from http://voyeurtools.org/tool/Links/

These tools provide overall summaries of data like the frequency of words, popularity of words, or relationships (as seen in the image to the right) between words in a certain document. The image to the right is also an example of spatial reading, which means the spaces between the words are there for a reason to do with their relationships with each other.

Recently, we transcribed a Moravian travel journal written by Jasper Payne in 1747. By closely reading this document we learned about the everyday life Payne and his “brethren”  lived on their journey, including the places and people they saw and met. A distant reading of this journal may reveal similar aspects of the writings, but it also unveils broader ideas. For example, the following image shows us many interesting things about the writing that we may not have realized in the close reading (click on image to read more clearly):

An analysis of Payne's Journal using a program named "Jigsaw" by John Stasko.
An analysis of Payne’s Journal using a program named “Jigsaw” by John Stasko.

This “tree map” shows the words that follow the word “our” in the travel journal listed from most common to least common. As you can see, Jasper Payne displayed a lot of emotional religious views in his writing. From this distant reading we can really see exactly how loving and faithful Payne and the Moravian group of people actually were.

Distant Reading: Plural Pronouns Reflect Collectivist Society

Distant reading of texts can help readers understand overall themes, concepts, and cultural context. For this reason, distant reading can help to answer the following question: Were the Moravians in the 18th century a collectivist or individualist society? Some distant reading strategies will better display this orientation in society than others, however the theme remains sound. In order to test if this distant reading can adequately answer this question, I will use the the full compiled transcription of the Payne/Froehlich Travel Journal.

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 5.17.13 PM
The size of the words indicates the number of times the word was used in the travel journal. Some of the largest words are “we,” “our,” and “us” — all plural pronouns.

Though the writer was directly and heavily involved in the travel events described, he chose to use plural pronouns, as can be seen in the Cirius cloud to the right. This is something that Whitley, in Visualizing the Archive, would identify as a form of “spatial reading.” He continues to explain the ways in which this type of spatial readings, world clouds, blur the lines between close and distant reading. As the graphics display the most frequently used words in the text in a visual way (the size of the words), however are still very much displaying the worlds. This allows distant readers to gather information about the text that may otherwise go unnoticed in a close reading. Whitley also points out that the reader must find a balance between looking at the word cloud as a big picture, or focusing on specific words. In order to help answer the research question posed about Moravian society it is important to notice that some of the largest, and most used, words are plural pronouns.

The below image is another visualization tool that helps to show word use and frequency in the the Payne/Froehlich Travel Journal. The pink line of bubbles represents the use of “we,” the purple represents the use of “he,” the neon blue represents “our,” the yellow represents “us,” and the blue represents “I.” All of the plural pronouns are used more frequently in the text overall. Again confirming that the Moravians were likely a more collectivist society. Though in order to answer the posed research question, it is not necessary to show what segments of the text use the provided pronouns most frequently.

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 6.28.03 PM
This tool, Bubblelines, shows the frequency of words in certain segments of the text.

However, it is interesting to note that “I” is used virtually not at all in the beginning of the text, but becomes more frequently used towards the end. There are many possibilities as to why this is the pattern. But, it is something that would have gone entirely unnoticed without the distant reading tools.

The next representation of the text is through Links, which shows both frequency of word use as well as connections between the words.

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 6.41.12 PM
This is the first Links image. It shows the connections between words, especially those that are frequently used. There is a “the” cluster and a “we” cluster that are not connected.
Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 6.41.23 PM
This is the second Links image, that includes “I.” It shows that adding the word “I” was essential to connect two different sets of clusters.

The first links image shows networks of words in relation to the two most frequently used words: we and the. However, the two networks do not connect. Once introducing the word “I,” the clusters become connected. This would prove that though less frequently used, singular pronouns (such as “I”) are more important to the coherence of the text than would have been deduced based on the other two spacial readings. For this reason, this approach is not the most helpful in answering the research question.

Despite the journalist’s personal experiences being documented it is clear that for this society at this point in history a more collective and plural writing style was preferred. The visualization methods used in the distant reading of the Payne/Froehlich Travel Journal allow the reader to see the big picture, instead of getting bogged down in the details of the text. It would be interesting to further research the question of “were the Moravians in the 18th century a collectivist or individualist society?” by comparing this journal with another Moravian travel journal from that time.