Category Archives: humanities

new interfaces for georeferenced historical maps

New to me:  MapScholar, from University of Virginia. Recently re-funded by NEH for becoming even bigger and better. Smooth interface, reminiscent in some ways of UCLA’s Hypercities, which itself reminds me of the latest batch of David Rumsey maps that are now accessible (to view at least) in georeferenced form, via geogarage (?). I knew there were a batch in Google Earth, but these are the first I’d seen in 2-D Google Maps.

Geotagged library collections are becoming, slowly, standard. What’s the next step beyond georeferencing projects like these? More 3D work, like within Rumsey’s GIS sites? What more can we dig out of these efforts?

Thanks to Dave for the Rumsey info.

a new lit and map app from Iowa

In the inaugural issue of the Journal of Interactive Technology & Pedagogy, a group of authors shared their work on the “City of Lit”: Collaborative Research in Literature and New Media.  There’s nothing that singly knocks my socks off about the project, but I do like the combination of an undergrad literature classroom + primary research in archived library collections + user-generated-content additions to the database + geotagged stories on a mobile device.  And they managed to scale it up to a good sized classroom too.  Nice.

marvelous French human kaleidoscope patterns

I *love* kaleidoscopes. I remember spending hours lying on my back and twisting them over my head, towards a sunny window.  Here is an awesome “human” version, done by some clever French folks, definitely thinking spatially!  I’d not have called it an arabesque, thinking only of the ballet position, but seems the word is much broader in its design sense.  Learn something new every day!

Un, deux, trois, quatre, cinq, six, sept, huit.

h/t to Geography Education.

national poetry month, exploring through maps

April is National Poetry Month. (Sure, why not? It has to be sometime, if we can’t have National Poetry Day year-round!)  There are several map-using-poetry-sites I’ve become aware of lately, including:

  1.  Places of Poems and Poets (part of an online poetry collection done by the libraries at the University of Toronto)
  2. Poetry Atlas (created/maintained by Tam Tam, a media company in the UK)
  3. a National Poetry Map, from poets.org
  4. a World Poetry Map, focusing on poets representing scarce-spoken languages, funded by the NEA and others.  (Is that really the dividing line between Europe and Asia? Really?)

Basically these are all mashups with point locations that document an author’s birthplace or native state/country, or maybe the landscape about which the poem is based, etc.  Simple geocoding or geotagging has taken place. So in every case the maps are simply an organizational template for the poems,  not something that necessarily give any new insights.

What would be even better?  A site that uses other geographical “filters” to discover poems.  That is, show me poems about waterfalls AND show me the images of where those waterfalls are.  Or, if it’s a poem about a gritty urban scene, show me some gritty urban scenes.  A poem about a historical time at a particular place?  How about linking it to HistoryPin or WhatWasThere?

And while we’re at it, how about a little audio, people?  Reading poetry is terrific, but I love listening to it too.  It’s easy to record someone reading a poem and link to that recording in the placemark.  It could even be done in native tongue and then a translation.  And, while you’re at it, how about with the sound of waterfalls in the background too?

If anyone knows any sites that creatively uses poetry and maps, please share them.

h/t to Google Maps Mania for some of the sites.

working with old maps

I’m still digesting the surplus of ideas, information, and stimuli that came through as overload during last week’s AAG conference in NYC.  One of the tracks that I’d have hoped to get to (if I could clone myself, and have the double arrive pre-loaded with more energy) was held at the New York Public Library, focusing on the use of historical maps and data in a number of ways.  I did have friends at those sessions, however, and one of them – Chris Gist from UVA- came to dinner one night full of enthusiasm for the plans around oldmapsonline.org.   I suppose such a wonderful level of contributed sharing was inevitable in today’s world of VGI.  Bring on the temporal/spatial change studies!

NYPL is also known for their innovative use of open-source tools to crowd source the georeferencing of their own collection of maps and images.

No man is an island, no place is a point

Rebecca Davis, my former colleague at NITLE, just hosted a Google+ discussion on possible ways that map-based stories can support student learning.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to join them, so I’m glad that she’s posted a summary of the session.

Linking place with narrative is central for spatially-focused digital humanities efforts.  Their comments on how to make projects collaborative are particularly important ones.  The tools themselves support collaboration by design, but managing that within an instructional setting requires careful forethought and planning.  As you’re designing the assignment, think through how you may separate content from technology knowledge. Don’t leave it to chance.  Like any group project, divide and conquer through chunks or phases. Train all students with the technologies, then allow for and recognize the natural tech leaders that will come to the forefront.  Provide them structured opportunities to help their peers.  Looks for ways to customize every possible aspect of the project, from on-the-ground field work to specially designed icons. Everyone naturally gravitates towards the visual media with these tools. Don’t overlook the audio possibilities, whether it’s music associated with the project as a whole, an overall narration, or authentic voices from the people of the place.  Experiment with lines and area (polygons) as indicators of locations too. No man is an island, no place is a point.

To move beyond tacking your info over someone else’s pre-digested map may eventually require dedicated programming efforts, but I’m certain we haven’t reached the ceiling for creative projects with simple tools.

Esri has a new page dedicated to Map(ping) Stories too.

The NEH is hosting two different Institutes this summer for those with grand ideas:

1) Spatial Narrative and Deep Maps: Explorations in the Spatial Humanities, at IUPUI in Indiana, and

2) Digital Cultural Mapping: Transformative Scholarship and Teaching in the Geospatial Humanities, at UCLA.

Mining (and then Mapping) Wikileaks

My colleagues from the University of Virginia have posted another step-by-step on their Spatial Humanities site, this one from Devin Becker, a digital initiatives librarian at the University of Idaho.   You too can follow Devin’s (tried and true) instructions and dive into Wikileaks yourself, with his 2-part example of the Afghan War Diary data.

One particularly great thing about this guide?   A simple entry to  Google Fusion tables, for those of us who haven’t had the time to play at all yet.  Thanks, Devin.

I tried to find a link to a website for Devin at the University of Idaho, and failed. But in the process I did uncover his cool design for Visualizing Metadata.  My library friends at Redlands will like this…