Finished version due:
Length: Poster size (at least 24” X 36”).
Revisable as a group or by individuals for inclusion in
Context: As the technologies of visual representation have
become cheaper, more accessible, and easier to use over the past
200 years, information-heavy genres like instructions, manuals,
and textbooks have all increasingly drawn on visual elements to
help clarify and communicate their message—and perhaps entertain
readers/users along the way. Many people are visual learners,
and need information displayed visually to best comprehend
relationships among many concepts. This assignment gives you
the opportunity to design information from this course visually.
Moreover, it offers the opportunity to learn important skills
that you can bring to other courses or your work life: design
skills, information evaluation and management skills, and an
application of PowerPoint or PhotoShop to produce posters for
the classroom, academic conferences, or industry.
For some general information on designing information, you’ll
find useful articles here:
< http://www.salon.com/march97/tufte970310.html> “The Data
Genre: Timelines are a prevalent genre within the larger
category of information graphic, and they are a useful genre to
start the course with because I am going to ask you to develop a
timeline about a specific technology or practice relevant to
developing your understanding of visual culture. In other
words, you will research and learn about the course content
while also developing some of the skills you need to be an
effective visual communicator.
As with all assignments in this course, your group will need to
undertake two kinds of research:
research to help you effectively complete the task
(understanding the genre), and
research to help you accurately develop the content
(understanding your topic)
In this case, you need to understand both how to design and
print an effective information graphic and how to develop a
timeline that focuses on a particular technology and its
relation to movements, events, and cost-demand-technology loop.
You may focus on a mainstream technology like “film,” but if you
choose such a prevalent technology, I would recommend that you
narrow down your topic to something like “Horror Movies: The
Blood to Bucks Relationship.” You can also research and design a
timeline appropriate to your career or major, although that
timeline still needs to be connected to visual culture and
A timeline on business cards for the business major.
A history of novel-to-film adaptations for the English
A history of computer software (from Autocad to SketchUp)
for the architecture major.
A timeline about tools of visualization in the medical
fields for the nursing major.
Audience: The primary audience for your timeline is me and your
classmates—we want to learn more about visual culture and we are
relying on you to teach us something! Your secondary audience
will be the many people who see your timelines hanging in the
hall of the English Department—we have an impressive collection
growing there; I encourage you to come and visit. Chances are
we might not know a lot about your specific topic, so make sure
you provide enough textual background so we understand what your
timeline is about, and what cost-technology-desire loop has
influenced the rise and/or fall of your technology, genre, or
1. Form a group of 3 or 4. Write up a task list. Figure out
how you are going to communicate with each other.
2. Go to the TLMC in the IACC to ask for help if no one has
undertaken a poster project before. Bring in your
assignment, explain your project, and ask what you will
need to do with technology to finish the project. Start
planning early; this is not a project you will be able to
finish in a week.
3. Breakdown assignment into smaller pieces. Set deadlines. I
recommend trying Xtimeline as a drafting space:
4. Assign group members research tasks, image finding tasks,
and design tasks. Hold them accountable.
5. Create goals for each group meeting and stick to them.
Send me your task lists with agendas before class.
6. Once you have the information, begin to think about design:
visual metaphors, appropriate shapes and fonts, etc.. Try
some sketches as a form of drafting.
7. You will probably want to print this in IACC multi-media
lab. Ask at the Help Desk about this.
When finished, you group should turn in:
1. A poster of at least 24” X 36” about some aspect of visual
culture over time.
2. An electronic file of that poster.
3. A group evaluation
Key elements of the timeline Comments
Your topic has been well researched,
the text is well-written, appropriate
style (realistic, abstract, or iconic),
informative, and sources are documented
in some way (a separate page is fine).
You might need to explain the cost-
demand-technology loop in words if you
aren’t sure how to show the loop
visually. Remember, this genre requires
writing; timelines require significant
amounts of text, and they usually have
an implied argument or at least offer
insight about the topic at hand.
Form 1 Add this to revision options at
end of course?
Demonstrate a good understanding of
McCloud through your design choices:
--use the type of images (realistic,
iconic, abstract) best suited to your
--use closure effectively: subject to
subject, aspect to aspect probably the
important transitions, but you could
get down to moment by moment or up to
scene to scene.
--your representation of “time” is
going to be crucial: can you show it
realistically, or conceptually.
--word-picture relationships are going
to be very important, and you might
need to use a variety of strategies.
--use lines and color effectively to
support your message.
Demonstrate a good understanding of
visual design, as presented in our
Power Points: shapes (e.g. arrows,
overlapping circles or boxes, parallel
lines, etc.) and overall page design to
show appropriate relationships among
the items on your timeline. Make good,
purposeful font choices.
Visual communication, as Berger notes,
often tries to capitalize on things
like “responsive chords” or the “wow”
effect: elements not easily captured by
formal guidelines. The timeline should
also clearly meet its purpose, and
perhaps appeal to specific parts of the
viewers’ psyche, depending on the topic
of the timeline. It should avoid
relying on stereotypical (especially if
potentially offensive) images or ideas.
It should also have an informative and
catchy title, names of creators and
date of submission.
+ ___________ / 150
A = Excellent in all areas. Perhaps room for some small
improvements, but timeline should demonstrate excellent research
(multiple sources, informative), clear understanding of DTC
loop, formal elements, and rhetorical elements. 136-150
B = Good to very good. A mix of scores, although all will need
to be in the A-C range. 121-35.
C = Acceptable. Most scores will be in the C range; perhaps one
higher than C, one lower. Significant room for improvement in
all categories. 106-120.
D = Unacceptable. Elements might be missing, nature of
assignment misunderstood, analysis might be exceptionally weak,
writing might be inappropriate for 300 level class. One or two
elements might be acceptable. 91-105.
F = Incomplete. Probably not turned in or no elements
acceptable. 90 or below.