Critical Thinkers and Influencers

Leaders of the past, the embodiment of everything that has made us who we are today. The privileges we have, how we understand the world and ourselves, it all stems from the work of our predecessors. To quote our lecturer exactly, “We are standing on the shoulders of giants.” There is no denying that without these heroes we would not be where we are today, all good and bad things considered. They have paved the path for us, for our society. Now, we have the opportunity to examine where this route leads and perhaps steer our ark in a different direction if the forecast is not in our favour. However, before we can proceed with such experiments, we must acknowledge and pay tribute to those leaders.

You might be wondering how are we supposed to do that? Well, all you need is a group of people, a long sheet of paper, a bunch of markers, and good amount of time. Now, you are ready to have some fun! Composing your own historical timeline is good way to start things of.

If you want to make this more challenging, put away all smart devices (at least for 20min) and see what you can come up with on your own. All you really need is to draw a line and start adding important figures from the past (and present!). Do not worry about the exact dating – just a rough idea is good enough.

From my own experience, I can say that it was a wonderful process. It does not only show how much information you have retained from history class but it also emphasises the different areas you are interested in, as you are able to easily pull out names of people that are significant to you. Similarly, you can learn about your peers, their cultural background, what makes them tick and what they are invested in. Our timeline featured artists, architects, painters, designers, writers, philosophers, political figures, entrepreneurs, teachers… from all over the world.

Now that I am reflecting on this activity, I must admit that even though I contributed with many names, none of them were female. I guess that this says something about me or perhaps about the creative industries - I know that there are women in design but for some reason I tend to put successful men on a pedestal. The truth is that even now I am struggling to come up with names of women in design that are significant to me. But that can change, as now I am faced with a challenge to develop my own timeline.

The Brief

Design, create and present a personal timeline that highlights and evidences your own timeline of movers, shakers, innovators, critical thinkers and influencers. This brief contributes to preparation for your Creative Thinking unit that, along with the Learning journal and presentation, is the project’s assessed element.

The brief is very straightforward. This time I want to take full advantage of my creative freedom. One of the things that bugged me was the definition of the starting point – how far back do you go? Industrial revolution? Adam and (St)eve? The Big Bang? Which links to the other issue, where do you place each hero? Do you date their birth or death? Or their most productive years?

I came up with an answer for myself and I must stress that this is my own interpretation of this project. The answer is that I AM the starting point. The influencing factors will be placed on my timeline in order of when I have discovered them/came to contact with them. Furthermore, I do not plan on mentioning every single important figure of the past. Nope! What I am going to do is feature only the heroes that I remember. The ones that have been influential enough to stick around in my active memory. It is only fair to list what you know, not the things that you think you should know. To be honest, there is more people than I can count that would be worthy of mentioning on a timeline like this, but the rule is that if you have to Google them, then they probably aren’t that important for your own area of expertise.

  • Original

Figure 1. Timeline


There is a lot of data on this timeline (mainly names) but because of the quantity it is hard to get quality information. The textured circles distract from the actual structure of the model. Furthermore, the orientation of the text made it hard to read the names.

I definitely agree that it would be easier to connect information with images or photographs. However, I have taken a different approach, where the timeline forms an inventory of the influencers instead of telling a story. Is that a good or bad thing?

  • 1st Revision

Figure 2. Timeline 2.0

The revision corrected some of the shortcomings of the original. Mainly, adding a title, name of the author (aka me) and a date. Furthermore, the graph is made with gradients instead of textures filled with tiny dots - now it is noticeably easier on the eyes. Lastly, the orientation of names is flipped half way through the graph to aid in legibility.

(Thanks to this project I was introduced to the work of Refik Anadol and there are certainly some similiraties to what I was thinking about when I was tackling the project...)

Figure 3. Virtual Archive, 2017

Final Takeaways

- If I was to tackle this project again I would focus on Reduction (smaller quantity - less names), Refinement (keep only what is neccesary), Zoom in (tell a more in-depth story), Use imagery (add photos related to the subject)

List of Illustrations

Figure 1. Boudova, M.(2020) Timeline

[Image] In possession of: the author.

Figure 2. Boudova, M.(2020) Timeline 2.0

[Image] In possession of: the author.

Figure 3. Anadol, R. (2017) Virtual Archive. At: (Accessed 15/11/2020).