Rosenberg receives $75,000 award for digital timelines

History professor Daniel Rosenberg has been awarded a $75,000 Digital Humanities Start-Up Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for his project Time Online. The project is an offshoot of his book Cartographies of Time: A History of the Timeline (Princeton Architectural Press, 2010), which was published with support from the Oregon Humanities Center. Through interactive digital models, Time Online brings old infographics to life in new electronic form.

The project seeks to better understand both old media and new. Rosenberg writes, “Our working premise is that print artifacts employ architectural logics and user protocols as complex and interesting as what is found in the digital universe. For this reason, a significant aspect of our research is embodied in the digital design process itself. By studying the interactivity of the old print artifacts, we are learning interface design.” The project joins scholars and designers at five universities and several labs including the University of Oregon Libraries Digital Scholarship Center and the UO Infographics Lab.

The Clark Honors College professor is an intellectual historian specializing in the history of information. His work ranges broadly in areas including the history of language, philosophy, and art.

Cartographies of Time: A History of the Timeline, co-written with Anthony Grafton, offers the first history of the timeline. The authors sketch the shifting field of graphic representations of history from the print age to the present. They shed light on the relationship between Western views of history and the technical devices used to represent the past in graphic form. In addition to relating a rich, untold story in the history of infographics, the book offers a kind of grammar of historical representation, uncovering the ways in which time has been structured in thought and images in the Western tradition. Written for both the academic and the general reader, Cartographies of Time provides tools for understanding the evolution and the significance of graphic representations of time in history and contemporary culture.

The book garnered enthusiastic praise from The New York Times ("eye-popping…my vote for the most beautiful book of the year"), The New Republic ("a fascinating narrative…a feeling for the poetic powers of material culture, for the way that stylistic evolutions express changing worldviews"), and many others. Cartographies of Time was named to the Best Books of the Year 2010 by amazon.com and ranked #2 on their list of Best Books of the Year in Art and Photography 2010; it was also named to the 2010 list of the Year’s Best Reading Beyond Category by The Barnes and Noble Review.