Maps of Deep Time

Posted on Tuesday, April 20th, 02010 by Alexander Rose - Twitter: @zander
link Categories: Long Term Art, Long Term Thinking, The Big Here   chat 0 Comments

Contagion Map by Haisam Hussein

History of Major Contagion Map by Haisam Hussein

Long Now member #744 Jason Martin sent in links to a few maps by Lapham’s Quarterly each of which depicts a different view of deep time.  Click on the maps shown here to see the larger versions.

Telling Tales Map by Haisam Hussein

Telling Tales Map by Haisam Hussein

The Art of Knowing graphics by Joyce Pendola

The Art of Knowing graphics by Joyce Pendola

  • When I see a map that has the continents in their current positions for the entire duration of the time depicted, I hardly think that counts as “deep time.” I think of “deep time” as billions of years, at least.

  • archaerie

    Interesting maps, interesting comment. How could one show the shifting shape of continents overlaid with other information over time. A problem worthy of any Tufte follower. :)

  • Gwen DeFortuna

    @Don Sakers — Cool. Sounds like you want to see animated maps to more accurately depict the passage of time.

  • The Art of Knowing and Telling Tales are “deep time” in culture.

  • Bill Sutton

    I agree with Don. Although I really like where you’re going with this, it shows an extreme bias toward the view that human knowledge began with the advent of civilization as we know it. This is a major blindness perpetuated by the scientific community.

    Knowledge being reduced to the tyranny of the conceptual mind began with the advent of civilization. The Hopi trace their history back 500,000 years. The practice of divining from bones is held by many indigenous cultures — most of which did not find it necessary to record time and historical events until recently.

    The view that these cultures are inferior cavemen hunter-gatherers misses 90% of what their relationship with the world was and what their knowledge was. Examining the roots of the word ‘knowledge’ we find the Sanskrit jñana (gñana), which refers to a more intuitive knowing (such as held by gnostics), than the intellectual knowing of prajña (pragña).

    Our history is written by the victors and our science is only able to look through the limited, dualistic mechanism called the conceptual mind. One of the hallmarks of this conceptual mind is obsession with its products (Pygmalionism). Arrogance and blindness to what it is blind to are built into its functioning. To think that we have made progress by building cities out of fear and a desire for control, by inventing philosophies and reasonings, and by letting go of our sympathetic, communicative relationship with the planet is extremely arrogant and missing the point.

  • Vellocet

    The concept of “Deep Time” is a bit misleading when out of context with the maps. These maps are successful within their frameworks. They convey both the flow of a concept over space and time. Although the focus of the maps is a bit narrow the method of information delivery is excellent. They are easy to understand and quickly absorbed. The creators have clearly avoided over-complication. Such maps are a powerful organizational tool capable of providing perspective, something we all need in all situations.

    These maps are inspiring. I am imagining a UI allowing users to select, overlay, and manipulate many concepts and maps. Think of the power of a concept map when combined with a UI similar to Google Maps.

  • roid

    I would have expected the chart regarding Pygmalion to mention Shakespeare’s play, “The Taming of the Shrew”.

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