More on Mapping and Digital History GIS Projects

After reading, Gergely Baics Mapping as Process: Food Access in Nineteenth-Century New York, I would like to point out some aspects about using GIS for spatial history that I found specially relevant:

  1. Being able to create and develop projects not only within the academia but open to the public. And not only in terms of accessing the info, but also in collaborating with the project. He mentions some projects from the New York Public Library, which although they vary in specificity and usability, they’re still innovative and open ended projects that can help to open the study of space in history to a broader audience.

  2. Another interesting aspect is the fact that Baics, as I have also stressed in my previous blog post, refers to the process of historical reconstruction as a gradual, open-ended and unfinished one. I think this is worth to be mentioned again, not only because it is commonly diminished when talking about preparing data for computational analysis, but also because it reinforces the complementary aspect that the process involves, both in closely and distantly accessing the sources.

  3. Finally, another point that I already made but that it keeps appearing, is the open ended aspect of most of these projects. As Baics writes:

At each step, new questions emerge, moving the mapping process forward from reconstruction toward analysis. 

Brief Overview of Some DH GIS Projects

Now, I would like to do a brief overview of some DH GIS Projects, that we can find in DH GIS Projects:

The use of GSI is necessary as it is combining old with contemporary maps. The digitized maps seem to fit well in the contemporary ones but I think that its usability is rather limited to someone interested in this particular research. For instance, I would like to see a list of the searchable professions, people or places. Unfortunately, in the website you don’t have this advanced search option, so it was kind of difficult for me to look for information.

Lot of information! It was interesting and useful to me, but I it would be nice to include a home page that describes better what you can or can’t see in the map. Again, you need to approach the map with some questions in advance (although less specific than for the previous project).

I liked the website and the introductory video. The design of the site was also user friendly and it really guides you throughout it. I agree that it is an innovative project, but also a descriptive one. Although you have space for interaction, it is through the site and not in rearranging the content or asking questions to it. The questions and answers are already there. Still, I really liked the design and the navigability.

Friendlier design than the AfricaMap, but with less info. Very useful when you’re teaching and want to display some visual info, or to reference a specific period-context. Con: the data is not reusable, but it is very accessible.

The site takes a while to load and to display the data, but it has a lot of information. I liked that it also has a project overview section, that describes the sources, the methods and the process for building this project. The design is not very attractive, but I still think that it has a lot of potential for usability, you can really find many info not only in the website but also in the Educational section.

I really liked this project (very related to my research interests). The site has also a nice design and it is easy to navigate. The maps display very easily and it combines visual and audio sources. I will definitely use it, for personal research and for pedagogical purposes.

I like that it is both in English and Spanish. The data is divided in different categories and it is very easy to search through them. Not very reusable, only for informative or descriptive purposes. Could it potentially serve to build networks between different investigators across geographies?

The site offers you an index page with all the info that you can find in it, which I like. The map is easy to navigate as well. For informative and pedagogical purposes it works fine.

I liked that it gives you lot of instructions so you can’t get lost when doing different searches. The site is also easy to use and the design is connected with its functionality. It also has a link to a blog, with extra info and tools. Extra links and publications can be found the website. I think that it is a very complete website, very usable.

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