The Oral Tradition in 3D

Harold Innis, Information Visualisation and the 3D Historical Cities Project.

Computing in the Humanities Working Papers. A.20. Sept. 2003.
Abstract: This paper draws on Harold Innis' writings on text and information visualization, to suggest they present a point of departure for historical pedagogy. In his communication writings, Innis suggested Western Culture over the 19th and 20th centuries had been inundated with text, and that inundation had had deleterious effects on Europe and North America, leading ultimately to World War I. He further suggested that Information Visualisation as a strategy to enable the West to control its textual information flows, and the de-stabilizing effects they engendered. The 3D Historical Cities Project was established, in part, because project participants see a similar problem plaguing historical pedagogy. The fundamental aim of history instruction in universities is to enable students to differentiate historical models from the objects to which they refer. Unfortunately, students are often hindered from recognizing this fundamental point because they are required to master large quantities of textual information, a task that often hinders students' capacity to abstract the proper relationship between model and referent. This paper offers a visual method -- via 3D model construction -- to enable students to literally see the differences between historical reconstruction and historical event.