Always on the look out for visualizing interesting data, this time we turned our research-eye on meetings. How have they changed and progressed over the years? Was there a first ever meeting? When was it? What was it for? So many questions!

As we researched further and further back in time, our list of meetings continued to grow with dates, historical events and interesting places.


We identified that the origins of human gatherings was likely when primitive humans found that living and cooperating in groups (or tribes) helped them meet basic survival needs such as food, territory, safety, and reproduction.

As humanity evolved into society, people gathered for more and more specific reasons — meetings to trade wealth, meetings to share or teach new ideas, meetings to ponder our existence, meetings to satisfy social urges, or meetings to discuss our dominion — though when we take a closer look, the reasons at their core are often still to protect, accumulate or enforce our basic needs (trade, education, faith, socialization, and war or conflict).


With a wealth of information and research dating as far back as the Neolithic Revolution circa 8,000 B.C. (thank you Wikipedia!), we began the natural course of organizing the information into a timeline mapping various types of meetings and some of the tools used in them in a data visualization that is an interesting look at the evolution of meetings.

We found that the first large, organized gathering of people was during the first agricultural revolution – the Neolithic Revolution. This sparked a transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture and settlement, resulting in the development of villages and towns. It was this initial gathering and settling of people that likely brought about the first town meetings, eventually becoming more social and political in nature.


We also found it interesting to see how today’s government is similar to that of the Spartan Gerousia & Apella. In Sparta, the gerousia were a council consisting of the two Spartan kings and 28 Spartan elders who filled the role of the Supreme Court. They would prepare motions for a public, deliberative assembly of male citizens 13 years of age or older – called the Apella – to vote on.

So check out our History of Meetings poster as a downloadable pdf and the next time you find yourself stuck in a meeting, maybe you’ll take a moment to think about the long history of meetings that you are a part of.


Stay tuned for next week’s Meeting Tools poster — an in-depth look at the types of tools used in meetings.


At Pivot, we love visualizing design research because it helps us understand our changing social, cultural and technological landscapes. If you wish to find out more about this observation or how we can work with you to use Pivot’s design research methods, please drop us a line at We’d love to hear from you!


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