Lab #3

Cooper Halpern, Alex Straus, Ursula Castiblanco

Exercise 1:

This GIS manages, analyzes, and visually portrays spatial and temporal data pertaining to the events of the “Battle of Chancellorsville” in 1863. The virtual interface presents the user with annotated information in timeline and cartographical form. This GIS seeks to facilitate new perspectives and functionality for studying the distinct, sequential events of the “Battle of Chancellorsville” with pertinent, historical description and analysis. Through this interface, fuzzy data can find representation in this moldable, graphical interface. Primary information is eas

The GIS consists of a virtual 2D cartographical map, displaying spatial locations in three interactive layers: first, a base layer map of the world that has continuous, horizontal boundaries and multiple topographic styles; second, image overlays of a physical map in raster form  (3 options organized by date all of which can be turned on or off) on top of the base layer in its analogous location; and lastly, a layer of vector annotations that appear on top both the base and middle layers. These markings have left-click options that when activated display image and written information about the feature. These functions are immediately accessible and comfortably navigable. They allow the user to easily find information of various depth and easily change perspective to their content. They also allow for fuzzy data to be visualized.

There are also temporal features consisting of a time line placed horizontally across the top of the page. A sequence of events in list form is also set vertically along the right side of the page, which, when selected, bring the map view to the zoomed in location on the map. These features facilitates unobtrusive portrayal and easy navigation through discrete events that can be followed sequentially or at one’s desire.

This argument could have been strengthened by allowing user input, whether it be in comments, the creation of digital artifacts, or the uploading and downloading of sources and information. There could have been more in-depth visualization with different viewpoints than a 2D, cartographical map, even if it consists of different layers. I think the creator of this website could have added more features and gotten a little more creative with the possibilities of virtualization, however it upholds an intuitive structure that represents itself cleanly. The basics are there, however the boundaries remain unexplored.

Exercise 2:

The first project that we examined was about the 1969 Swarthmore College sit-in. Black students experiencing segregation demanded equal rights from the predominantly white staff, faculty, and students on campus. This project maps out their eight day sit-in in 1969 and how SASS students made efforts to diversify Swarthmore College using Neatline to benefit visualization. The map in the project is provided by Google Earth and has extremely high resolution imaging. It is also interactive so the viewer can fly around and click on different bullets that give descriptions. The map gives the viewer a feel for the campus. Links to further information include newspaper articles, letters, and images, however, many of them are difficult to read and need explanation and or a translation in legible text. It would be more effective for all documents and photographs to be presented in the one project tab to improve easy accessibility and retain the attention of the viewer.  Additionally, at first glance, the viewer wants to drag the magnifying glass around the large map but the glass is stationary. The project should begin with a zoomed in map of just the campus.

In the second exercise, we compared Hypercities to the Atlas of Early Printing. I could not tell what the spatial argument of hypercities is because when I try to launch hypercities I get an error. According to the UCLA website, the site was intended to provide a dense, multimedia representation of cities through the combination and collaboration of many projects and sources, particularly social media. The argument of the Atlas of Early Printing is that printing was born and evolved over time throughout Europe. The features of hypercities are limited since it does not run. You can view individual collections but they are not connected to each other any way and the way in which they are displayed is disjointed and obtuse. Alternatively, the Early Printing site is constructed as an interactive timeline, so you can look at the growth/amount of printing during a particular period of time. Also, you can click on each printing site (represented as a red dot) to learn about each specific location. The timeline can be animated which makes the growth over time even clearer. Hypercities would have had a stronger argument had the maintenance of the site continued, so that the site would work. The Atlas of Early Printing could have benefitted from a more elegant graphical approach to make the site more approachable but overall the site is well constructed and explained.

Overall, the most significant difference between Neatline and Hypercities is that one works and the other does not. Hypercities is broken and Neatline has a clear and interactive map with detailed explanations of the images. Neatline is not perfect, but it is certainly “better” because it is functional on a basic level.

Lab #3: Group Summary

When analyzing the project regarding the Battle of Chancellorsville the creators’ goal was to show where and when historic events occurred during this battle relative to one another. This was done through using a map of the Battle of Chancellorsville battlefield along with a timeline to go along with the annotations of events. The timeline gives the location in history of these events down to the hour. The timeline is linked to points on the map that then provide more information on the event. This system presents the info in a way that better conveys relativity of events in history. Unlike this source, the Gemini over Baha source looks at spatial humanities from a different point of view.

Point of view is a term that should be taken literally in this case. The Gemini over Baha project looks at how the Gemini project took pictures of the same area but about a year apart from different angles. This project made an argument of perspective and how that changes how one can look at an image and gather different information from a seemingly identical image. These projects emanate the essence of digital humanities, as they use of new technology to look at pre-existing knowledge under a new light.

Although these projects process well executed spatial arguments, there are still some imperfections. For the Battle of Chancellorsville project, when using the timeline to find locations on the map, the program jumps to the next point the user clicks on. To further their argument, they could make it so that the user zooms out and slides to the next event they click on to make the special argument clearer. When looking at the Gemini project the argument proposed by the project is not easy to spot off the bat due to the format of the home page. Organizing the layout of their webpage would strengthen the argument and make it a more practical source for information.

In the second part of this experiment we looked at two different projects. First, we looked at the “Mapping Jewish LA”, which is a project created to display the development of the Jewish population in Los Angeles. This is also done using maps, allowing for the distribution of the Jewish population easier to visualize. This website appeared to be in development, as it did not contain massive amounts of information. Therefore, over time if it is continuously updated it could be a useful DHi project. After this we looked at “Twitter in Real-time”, which is a more modern usage of spatial humanities. This project can be used to observe trends in social media in real time in specific areas. This makes the goal of this source obvious, as it sets out to let its users to find trends in social media posts and derive their own hypotheses. The main problem with this source was the lack of customization of the search. For example, the radius of the search was locked at 2 kilometers of a set location.

All these sources we looked at can be found on, a hub for digital humanities projects. An overall review of the website reveals the utility of the hub, but also the flaws. The website is useful as an epicenter for some very impressive digital humanities projects, but the organization and fluidity of the experience leaves a lot to be desired. This will therefore take away from the spatial humanities websites because navigating hypercities puts an underwhelmed opinion in the brains of those using the digital humanities projects.


-Jean Beecher, Jill Fu, & Jacob Circelli

Lab 3- Caribbean Cholera

  1. What are the spatial arguments being made?
    1. Swarthmore

The website utilizes Google Maps and layers a historical time for Swarthmore College, on its campus. The site requires its users to continually click inside of a magnifying glass that hovers over a part of the map until they are zoomed in enough on the Swarthmore campus. Once the users have zoomed in sufficiently, clickable red indicators appear on the screen, which allow the users to read about what occurred at Swarthmore in January of 1969. Users can then read chronologically about the Black students’ sit-in in the admissions office in their fight towards racial equality throughout their university. The point of this website is to layer primary and secondary sources, from this event in time, over a current map. This speaks to the racial issues that happened nearly 50 years ago that are still clearly happening now.

Project Gemini over Baja California

The website similarly utilizes Google Maps but focuses in on the Baja strip of Mexico. There is a highlighted square that hovers over the southern part of the strip and it appears to be a zoomed in photo from the vantage point of the Gemini Ship. Upon clicking on the highlighted squares, the page directs its users to a text box on the left side of the screen that describes what the users are looking at. As the website mentions, it uses contrasting mapboxes to not only highlight what the two Gemini missions captured, but specifically highlight the similarities and differences between the two missions.

Features, display techniques, or visualizations



When web page first loads, you see three main things: a satellite map with no labels, a big magnifying glass symbol right in the center of the screen, and an interrogation mark above the magnifying class. There are a number of tools at the top left corner that allow you to move in different directions and to zoom in and out.

Because nothing is labeled, you have to explore the site to figure out how to navigate it. As you zoom in, you see more things appearing on the screen. These new objects are all encircled within the big magnifying glass that appeared from the start, and include a smaller magnifying class, an arrow, and a set of lines and dots. In order to obtain textual information, you have to click on the symbols. This setup seems strange at first, but after a little bit of exploration you can see why it was designed that way: the big magnifying class gives you the general idea and the context of what happened. Then as you zoom in, every new object that appears gives you the progression, in chronological order, of the events. Some of the text boxes include hyperlinks that show you relevant information such as photographs, maps, news articles, official documents, and letters.

Project Gemini over Baja California


The site consists of a text box (located on the left side and occupying about ¼ of the screen) and a map. The map is not very conventional, since it is trying to depict three things at the same time: modern satellite imagery of Baja California, and two pictures of the same place taken, respectively, in 1965 (by the Gemini 5 mission) and in 1966 (by the Gemini 11 mission).

The map offers a zoom option, but it does not allow you to zoom out completely. The most complete image it shows is that of the Americas, but you cannot see any other continents.

The two images taken by the Gemini missions are not superimposed on the map, but instead, they are shown right next to it. This can be confusing at first, especially because there are arrows connecting the maps that are not entirely intuitive and the two images differ in size.

The text uses hyperlinks. The hyperlinks are clearly highlighted and are used mainly for webpages, places, objects, and relevant information. In the case of the webpages (Netline and Mapbox), it redirects you to the respective site; in the case of the places, objects, and relevant information, it shows you arrows so you know where in the maps they are located, and it also zooms in to show you the place or object in more detail. The hyperlinks work in the opposite way too, as in you can also click on certain things on the map, and it will highlight the name of the place or object in the text.

  1. What might you have done differently to strengthen the argument?
    1. Swarthmore

To enhance the argument, the creators of the Swarthmore map could have done a few things differently. When first accessing the map, the user sees only a question mark and a circle, which makes it hard to understand at first. Additionally, once zoomed in enough to see the actual contents, there is no context or indication as to the significance of any of the locations or the mapped lines. Further, the map they are using shows how Swarthmore currently looks, not how it looks in the 1960s. They do include an older map, but it is hard to navigate and difficult to see. When attempting to zoom in to increase the quality of the image, it zooms in too far.

Project Gemini over Baja California


This map is far more effective than the Swarthmore map. Although there is a lot to take in at first, the site guides the user through the map through the narrative on the left side of the screen. They link the map to key words and events mentioned in the short write-up. To help the argument, the creators of the map could have changed the orientation of at least the photo for Gemini 5. If they flipped the image over it would be much more clear how it corresponds to the base layer of the map.

 Compare and contrast the two projects/sites

What are the two spatial arguments being made?

Caribbean Cholera


The website layers a historical timeline over a Google Map that is zoomed in on the Caribbean. The timeline is of the 19th century and when you move throughout the timeline, different markers appear over different locations in the Caribbean. A red marker indicates there was a Cholera outbreak, a blue marker indicates there was a hurricane, a green marker indicates a tropical storm occurrence, and a yellow marker indicates a news article being published at this time about the respective location. The About page on this website does not explain the reasoning behind the creation of this site. Based on what one can deduce on their own from exploring the functionality of this website, it appears that this site was made to keep people informed about disease outbreaks and natural disasters that happened in the Caribbean during the 19th century.

Beijing of Dreams


The website utilizes an interactive drawn map of Beijing. There are different architectural landmarks that are highlighted in red, which users are able to click on and the site redirects users to a page filled with photos of and around the respective landmark. The Homepage describes this website’s purpose as, “a website which shows the lost ‘Beijing of Dreams’, using old photos surviving from the time when Beijing was the greatest walled capital city anywhere in the world. We have concentrated at first upon showing the vast walls and gates of Beijing, all but a few traces of which are gone now”. The interactive map is evidently less technologically advanced than Google Maps, therefore at first glance the site does not seem appealing. In other words, a drawn map does not look as professional as a map that Google provides. However, the old photos that are on the site provide legitimacy because they are all primary sources.

What features, display techniques, or visualizations advance these spatial arguments?

Caribbean Cholera


The 19th Century Caribbean Cholera webpage is interactive and, for the most part, intuitive. The page displays an interactive chronological timeline, and an interactive map where you can zoom in and out and click on small items that provide additional information. The items, which are color coded, can show four different things: cholera outbreaks, hurricanes, tropical storms, and news articles. There is also a sidebar to the right that explains how to use the site. The chronological timeline and the map are linked, so as you move along the former, new items (the ones relevant to the time period your timeline covers) start appearing on the map. The interaction between the timeline and the map is very helpful to see the time and spatial progression of the events. In fact, the timeline allows you to click on every occurrence, and as you do so, the map will change to the location where that happened, and will show you the relevant information on it. The site is supposed to show not only the 19th century Caribbean Cholera Detail Map, but also a Zoom on 1833 Havana. However, the latter never loaded.

Beijing of Dreams


The site does a good job matching its design with its theme. The homepage depicts alternating pictures of Old Beijing, and explains the intention of the site. The page is very intuitive and employs a number of tools to advance its spatial arguments: an interactive map, pictures of Old Beijing, and the scanned picture of an original, old, hand-painted map on which the interactive map was based (which gives credibility to the latter). The interactive map displays a good balance between readability and labeling, and allows the user to click on certain icons to view pictures of that area. The page uses a simple yet effective color-coding: the background is black, the text and drawings are in white, and the hyperlinked icons are in red. The pictures are categorized into three albums: gates, miscellaneous, and walls and corners. The user is also able to see the entire collection of pictures in a single album. The scanned old map has a really good quality, and provides English transcriptions of the original Chinese text.

What might have you done differently to strengthen the arguments?

Caribbean Cholera


The one thing the map does well is depict changes over time. Users can see how the outbreaks spread throughout the caribbean by scrolling through the timeline and looking at the pins that pop up. Other than that, the spatial argument is lacking due to a number of flaws. One of the weakness includes the functionality of the web page and map itself. Scrolling through the timeline is harder than it should be, and the different tabs and links do not work. Additionally, other than the few news stories, the site offers little information about what the map shows.If the about tab functioned probably it would help solve this issue, but the links for all the information the user would need don’t work.

Beijing Map


The Beijing map makes a fairly strong spatial argument. The site functions well and is easily understood. Just about everything works as it should with a clean display. The different icons on the map give the users a good idea about the layout of the city. The only issue is that a few of the icons either lead to an error screen, or have no images associated with them. Other than that, the only thing that would help the argument would be a clearer description of the significance of each of the objects.

Hypercities vs. Neatline

Major differences: Upon first glance of both websites, it is evident how drastically different these websites are. Hypercities is full of images, while is full of text. Hypercities is much more of an appealing and seemingly interactive site because of the clickable pictures, whereas appears to be more daunting. In the Hypercities website, users can hover over each photo and a short blurb appears explaining the different sites it leads users to. The website fully explains what the site entails and has screen shots of the different sites that it has to offer. Between the two websites, I would choose the former site because it is much more interactive and user friendly. Furthermore, it gives users enough information without overloading them with too much information to the point where users give up and leave the website.


This website teaches its users about the Roman Forum and allows them to navigate in first person. There are different updates and modifications that allow users to try different versions of the digital Roman Forum. I find the citation page to be the most interactive because it allows users to click on the different buildings and learn their history. It makes learning about the Roman Forum easy to swallow.

Romelab allows first-person exploration of a virtual reproduction of the historical city of Rome. The interface differs greatly from much of the geospatial work seen to this point. Many digital maps are restricted because of the difficulty with showing movement and using 2D images or icons to demonstrate important buildings and objects. With Romelab, the 3D landscape allows the user to move freely and appreciate the buildings and architecture of the Roman Forum as if they were there in ancient times.

– Brett Mele, Isabella Bossa, Matt Golding

Lab Three Write-up

Both My-Dear-Little-Nelly and the map of the battle of Chancellorsville concern the American Civil War, but they present the spatial history through different lenses. The former outlines a soldier’s correspondence to his romantic interest back home, while the latter focuses on the Battle of Charlottesville as a visualization of strategy and an objective history. The letters in My-Dear-Little-Nelly are presented above a black and white map of the surrounding area, offering a direct geographical context for the soldier’s correspondence. The map presents the letters with the dimension of time as a function of a geospatial representation, allowing the user to gather a personal perspective of the battle through individual correspondence. This provides an individual perspective for a deeply complex event. The Battle of Charlottesville visualization superimposes a historical map on a mutable depiction of battle, traversable across the three days of the battle. Offering hotspots with details describing the maneuvers of both sides of the conflict, the map presents primary sources allowing the user to understand the movement of the battle as a timeline of objective facts.

Both sources use historical maps, arrows indicating movement and direction, and a timeline slider. Both visualizations rely on the core functionality of NeatLine, but each approaches the chronological presentation in a different way.  This allows for the standardization of the site.  The user is familiar with the tools at his or her disposal, but the use of the visualization changes.

The project could have been more interactive.  While it is often necessary to include fields of text to describe a history, the platform could be leveraged and expanded to offer animations, 3D maps, and more photographs to augment the 2D spatial experience.

Mapping Twitter in real time argues that people’s use of words and ideas may be geographically organized. Twitter often acts a venue for reactions to words and ideas in 140 characters or less, so it further argues that the way in which people interpret what happens in the world is geographically organized. We arrived at that interpretation of reaction, because their default topic is Obama who commonly provokes reactions. At the same time, Authorial London also argues that ideas are organized to a particular geographic venue by associating some of the greatest western thinkers to London.

Both provide strong direct information in forms of Twitter posts or English author descriptions, but the maps they use lack precision. However, while the Twitter posts necessarily lack that level of precision due to anonymity, the locations of the authors only lacks precision due to design flaws. The color scheme does not contrast greatly enough from the dated map to helpfully indicate the locations associated with the different authors. At the same time, in comparing two different authors, they made no indication of when a particular venue would be associated with both. However, those flaws could easily be fixed with some coding modifications.


Jack Hay, Alex Black, Nick Chkonia

Lab #3: Individual Evaluation

In this lab, we looked at how GIS has been integrated into DHi projects. The use of maps in DHi projects has made it possible to create spatial arguments much more easily than ever before. In the second part of this lab we looked at “Mapping Jewish LA” and “Twitter in Real-time”. Both projects used existing information and added a spatial layer to the information in to change the point of view of the same argument.

In “Mapping Jewish LA” one can see the growth of the Jewish community in LA over time. Also, rather than just seeing an increase in numbers, one can see the distribution of the growing population. This is something that could not be observed as easily without the usage of GPS and mapping.

Looking at the next project, “Twitter in Real-time”, one can see a more “modern” usage of GIS to convey information. In this project one can see the distribution of tweets about a certain topic by searching for a keyword in tweets within a 2-kilometer radius on a map.

As seen in both projects a special argument is introduced to a set of data, allowing users to observe that data in a different way and come up with new questions and connections. These questions involve how spatial relativity can effect outcomes and trends in the past and present.



Jacob Circelli

Lab 3: Spatial Humanities

Exercise One

What are the two spatial arguments being made?

When analyzing the second link there was a definite focus on the correlation between spatial relations and the time that those events took place. This can be seen through the timelines located above and to the right of the map. Each event listed on the timeline on the right can be clicked on to reveal the location of the event. The most interesting information which can be taken away from clicking on different events can be seen when clicking on events that happened at the same time. Through this one gets a visual representation of how multiple events may have taken place at the same time. This project therefore presents information some may know about American history in a different manner.

When looking at the fourth link there is a display of 2 gemini photos taken roughly a year apart. The spatial argument being made in these pictures is less to do with time than it is about perspective. When looking at the comparison to the general map and the photos taken by Gemini 5 and 11 there is no major difference in geographic features, but the angles and distances that the photos were take present the location in a different light. The scaling and the perspective of the area are taken into account through the project showing scale references and showing the viewing angle of Gemini 11 making an initially confusing interface more digestible.

What features, display techniques, or visualizations advance these spatial arguments?

For the second link, a timeline is displayed at the top of the screen and at the sidebar, which allow users to redirect themselves to specific time periods and zoom in on the exact location that the event happened. Also, the map is well labeled with each attack of the battle and how the corps were laid out. Extra information is provided once the user click on the labeled region, with description about the events or the corps’ movements and pictures. It also redirects you to the wikipedia page to offer more information about each corp and the general who are in charge of the attack. Another thing that is cleverly done is that the web page does not list a lot of words on the interface. Descriptions only show up when the users want to know more about the events.

Comparing the second link with the fourth link, the fourth link is not time-sensitive compared to the second one. Since it is also not a project recording events that happened in different location, it is a collection of different perspectives from the two satellites. Similarly, the websites allows the users to click on each underlined word so that they can get more information on the map. However, this link involves a lot of reading when you first open the site. If the user wants to gain more information about the two satellites, they have to read the descriptions on the left, whereas, for the second link, it is optional for the user to read.

What might you have done differently to strengthen the argument(s)?

For the second link, the argument could be made stronger by showing the movement between each event in a more efficient and clear way. When you click on the events on the side in order of the times they occurred, the project simply jumps from one event to the next. A more clear way of presenting the shifts in time would be to actually show the movement on the map between the events.

The fourth link had a different sort of spatial argument than the second one. Since the gemini photos were taken only a year apart, the argument has little to do with time. This spatial argument could be made stronger by being more clear and understandable right off the bat. When first opening the link, the site is overwhelming and doesn’t make much sense. A user must read the side panel before they are able to digest the images shown.


Exercise Two

“Mapping Jewish LA”

“Twitter in Realtime”

What are the two spatial arguments being made?

Looking at “Mapping Jewish LA”, it can be seen that UCLA created a project that is meant to show the development of Jewish refugees cementing their culture in Los Angeles. There are only 9 sub projects on this website at the moment but there are some that are being created. The spatial argument therefore varies but the major argument being made across the board pertains to the development of Jewish culture in different facets of life in the city of Los Angeles.

When looking at “Mapping Twitter in Real Time” the spatial argument being made is very clear. The idea of this tool is clear cut in that it allows users to find repetition in tweets located around a specific area. When looking at potentially trending topics in a certain area it may show more results in areas that may be touched by that topic more. An example is when searching for the name of an NBA player that was traded to New Orleans, there were 6 tweets mentioning his name in the past 5 seconds. Therefore the goal of this project was to find trends in social media which could then be traced back to possible modern issues and news.

What features, display techniques, or visualizations advance these spatial arguments?

For “Mapping Twitter in Real Time”, the project is extremely interactive. It allows the user to search whatever topics they are interested in and look at twitter that has recently been posted in anywhere on the map. The feature of allowing the user to drag the pin on the map increases the flexibility of searches. On the interface, it shows the map on the left hand side and the content of twitter on the right hand side. The project also allows the user to set the searching radius. It is easy and quick to get the information you want.

For “Mapping Jewish LA”, it focuses mainly on history of the Jewish community around LA. The program is separated into 9 parts with each focusing on a specific aspects that can reflect the Jewish culture in LA. Each part offers further information if the user is interested in the topic. Since it focuses more on history, the project provides several timelines that are labeled with major events. It also uses pictures from time to time to show the change of the neighborhood.

What might you have done differently to strengthen the argument(s)?


The argument for “Mapping Jewish LA” is pretty simple; the project maps the development of Jewish refugees around LA. Under the “Current Exhibitions” tab, the 9 projects are listed. This page could be more effective if all the projects were presented in a sort of grid, instead of a list.  This way a user can more easily compare the projects and obtain a better overview of what the site has to offer. In a similar way, the “Works in Progress” tab could be laid out in a more effective way so that a user can see all of the projects at once.

Overall, the “Mapping Twitter in Real Time” is an effective project. The interface is straightforward and easy to use. However, the only thing this project seems to have trouble with are the visual representations of the tweets showing up on the map. When you mouse over this area on the map, especially when the topic is trending, the program gets “fidgety” and it is difficult to select a single tweet to view. Other than this though, the project is very effective.

Hypercities (see, vs. Neatline: What are the major differences between these two platforms/tools? Compare and contrast these two platforms/tools? What makes these “better” platforms/tools for making spatial arguments?

Hypercities tends to show history changes in a specific geographic region. It focuses more on offering information. However, Neatline is more like an interactive study tool, where users are able to navigate themselves through topics and events that are interesting to them.


Jean Beecher, Jacob Circelli, Jill Fu

Lab #3

Part 1: What are the two spatial arguments being made? What features, display techniques, or visualizations advance these spatial arguments? What might you have done differently to strengthen the argument(s)?

Our two selections: Project Gemini and the Battle of Chancellorsville

  1. Project Gemini over Baja California Sur shows the differences between images taken from the Gemini 5 and Gemini 11 project missions. These images from the Gemini missions are also compared to images taken from current satellites. The two Gemini images are laid over a current satellite image of the Baja California area, with lines and boxes indicating the matching points between the three pictures. This project argues that the Gemini missions and current satellites used/use different imaging techniques and that each technique provided/provides a unique view of the terrain. The second spatial project shows the evolution of the Battle of Chancellorsville, a major battle in the American Civil War. This project argues that the terrain of Chancellorsville affected the battle and that the movements of Union and Confederate troops were calculated and organized.
  2. The side-by-side representation of the six-foot man, Manhattan, and Isla San Josa, clarified the spatial scale of the project. The scale incremented in miles and inches gave the user the units of measure. Lastly, the boxes around the islands gave the user the ability to link to the name and a further description. The lines connecting the satellite image and the map were taken by Gemini links their relationship in location and change over time. The Battle of Chancellorsville uses color-coded and labeled arrows to show the movement of each set of troops. Though placing the primary sourced map on the digital map provided issues in scaling, it did provide great context to where the battle occurred. The detailed cross-timeline shows the events over time.
  3. Project Gemini: In order to strengthen the argument I may have altered the presentation of the map and the comparison with the terrestrial images. I think in an attempt to convey the argument of Gemini over Baja I would have provided the images from the same angle. The two images presented are from different perspectives making it difficult to evaluate the differences between them. In order to portray a clearer picture for the user I would have added pictures of more than one location in my project, as a way to further enforce the argument regarding spatial relations. I also would have provided more images from different locations as a to provide more evidence, considering an uneducated user, with no background, does not know the normal specifications of spatial images. In order to enhance the user experience a scale may be better shown as a distance between islands or from the camera lens to the ground, making the relationship between foreground and background more evident. The Battle of Chancellorsville: In order to reinforce and strengthen the argument that geography affected the battle, I would rearrange the presentation. The current display of an outdated, unclear map with written arrows does not provide a clear image for the user as it is not to scale with the more updated map in the background. In order to display a better image for the user I would outline the battle on a modern satellite image of the territory, which would allow users to better gauge the area’s topography and landscape.

Part 2
What are the two spatial arguments being made?

The Twitter in Realtime project uses several tools such as keyword searching, timelines, and geospatial mapping to make arguments related to the effects of location on the social media platform Twitter. The project argues that both time and place affect people’s tweets; also, that some locations may harbor differing opinions on ‘tweetable’ topics, while other locations may tend to possess similar opinions on those same topics. The City Witness project uses virtual maps, representations of structures, stories, and games to explore the medieval city Swansea. This project argues that although Swansea is almost impossible to see nowadays, the city was an important centre in the Middle Ages.

What features, display techniques, or visualizations advance these spatial arguments? (be specific)

The search bar, grab tool, and resize tool of Twitter in Realtime allows for the advanced interactivity. The twitter timeline shows the from feed various locations. However, these tools do not clarify the argument they just expand the user’s capabilities to explore. The tweets are accompanied by the time. The project only shows singular tweets, no conversations, likes, nor retweets. The lack of context in the project makes it hard to decipher the spatial arguments. The City Witness project is much different and much more extensive. In Tours, the ordered and number points guide the user through each story of Medieval Swansea. When the user clicks the points further description is provided. The project provides a key that gives a better picture of Swansea’s layout. Lastly, the Change opacity dial shifts the user throughout time. However, the dial is not accompanied with dates, so it is difficult to understand what time frame the user is in between the beginning and current times

What might you have done differently to strengthen the argument(s)?

Twitter in Realtime: This project does not possess a clear cut argument, as the project is merely a tool for users to find evidence for their own evidence. In order to make the project more argumentative I would use the homepage as a means for pointing users in a certain direction. I would present users with certain topics and locations to explore in order to gauge relationships between things like politics and demographics. I would also provide users with a way to change the search radius to their preferences in order to customize the tool’s capabilities. I would also provide users with a way to filter the tweets, either by most favorites or relevancy.

City Witness: This project is a more thorough and in-depth presentation compared to the twitter project. The argument is clear and that is to present users with information regarding medieval Swansea, as much of that information has been lost throughout the years. The project does a good job with high-quality animations and interactive maps, but these resources may lack direction for the user on their own. I would create more of an emphasis on either comparing medieval Swansea to the modern version or to other medieval towns, and I would have these resources side by side, so they could be easily compared by the user. The tours are a good means of providing users with a sense of direction, but they are not straightforward. The project should present the user with a certain order to click on each location, so it would be easier to connect the dots and relate the information. However, the tours do present users with a contrasting viewpoint of the modern Swansea layout, which helps support the argument.

Part 3: Hypercities (see, vs. Neatline: What are the major differences between these two platforms/tools? Compare and contrast these two platforms/tools? What makes these “better” platforms/tools for making spatial arguments?

When comparing the tools between Hypercities and Neatline, the tools used by Hypercities allows for interactivity. Meanwhile, Neatline has one way to interact with the site. Additionally, Neatline uses built-in maps and Hypercities uses third-party services like google maps. The spatial representations and visuals make these two platforms “better.” Both use maps to convey a sense of time and location, as well as diagrams and vector-like shapes to show movement and/or change over time. The two tools also allow for users to be more interactive with games and activities related to the topic at-hand.

Summary Statement

After analyzing and reviewing various spatial humanities projects, there were compelling findings. The spatial projects all provided an argument and answered questions that help visualize spatial relationships. Each project were displayed on maps that showed changed over time,  relationships of objects and ideas, movement of people and property. The Cities Witness has a dial feature that shows the change over time and the Swansea-ians’ relationship to certain objects and buildings in how the city of Swansea has changed and how the city preserved its historical culture. Additionally, The Battle of Chancellorsville traces the movement of Union and Confederate troops during the civil war. These spatial projects show relationships that track how people interact and interacted with their spatial environment. (Alex)

Reviewing and comparing the spatial DH projects made me realize that successful DH spatial projects should be accessible and interactive with users, as well as useful in their display of information. A project’s creators should also consider the ability of the used-platform to maintain and preserve itself over time. As we learned by looking through the Hypercities projects, some technologies, such as certain plug-ins for viewing virtual maps, become obsolete. Once computers are unable to access a project’s website, that project is no longer relevant and is essentially dead. Although almost all forms of preservation become old and unusable at some point, the Hypercities projects are relatively recent and should be utilizing some other way of displaying their digital worlds. The Neatline projects, on the other hand, are extremely easy to access and explore and are constantly being updated with new and improved ways to display their information. The constant updates make Neatline a sustainable platform, unlike Hypercities. (Ian)

After comparing and contrasting the spatial humanities projects, in both neatline and hypercities, there are clear characteristics that can be used to classify a project as effective and efficient. The one aspect that is essential to a project is a clearly stated and thought out argument to be presented and supported by underlying evidence within the project. Both Project Gemini and the Battle of Chancellorsville can be used as examples of a clearly stated argument. Although these projects are not as dense as the hypercities projects they are effective in stating their argument to the user. However, the hypercities projects excel in the other category of being interactive. The users can manipulate these sites and utilize the various forms of information. The neatline projects state their points, but cannot be manipulated by the user. Both outlets have components of effective Digital Humanities project, but it may be difficult for an author to incorporate all of these components into one. (Zach)


Alex Cadet, Ian Nish, Zach Kleinbaum

Lab 3: Spatial Humanities

Step 1

What are the two spatial arguments being made?

The Swarthmore Sit-In map displays the geo-spatial representation of the events that occurred after the death of the President. They essentially argue the importance of the spatial organization of protests, and in this case, on college campuses.

The Hotchkiss’ neatline of the Battle of Chancellorsville displays the timeline and geographical representations of the movements that occurred. Arrows referred to the movements of the army help to understand the impact of the Battle. Text and pictures that explain how the decisions were made and the aftermath are linked to the map to help understand the event.

What features, display techniques, or visualizations advance these spatial arguments?

The Swarthmore Sit-In map uses traditional the Google map-like satellite visual to illustrate the campus on a realistic medium. They use zoom features and a magnifying glass to focus attention on the intended area. Once one is zoomed in close enough, the specifics of the event are indicated with red dots that signify the chronology and date of the proceedings. They highlight different locations and link to assets like pictures, articles, letters, and other relevant files that help give more context to the situation. This design is strong because it provides a visually intriguing and realistic design, and uses hyperlinks to provide more information, so the visual is not cluttered with words.

The mapping of the Battle of Chancellorsville displays the movements of an army across virginia over a three day period.  The site features interactive color overlays on a map of the region in which the battle took place.  Using numbering, arrows, and shading the project attempts to map the movement of the army.  Each of the three days has its own unique map overlays that display information about important events.  The effect of these display and visualization techniques is to give the user a better understanding of the movement of the battle over time. Important events are highlighted and both text and images are used to give users a better picture of the events that transpired.

What might you have done differently to strengthen the argument(s)?

In order to strengthen the argument, we would include an overview before entering the visual depiction because it would clarify the event before exploring the details. Also, we would suggest a path to take when exploring the different red dots, so we know we view the situation chronologically. The google map feature is interesting because it is realistic, but it does not need to be able to zoom out as much as it allows, because it makes navigation to the visualization more challenging to get to.

One technique that could have strengthened the argument of the Battle of the Chancellorsville project would have been to display the information one piece at a time.  Rather than dropping a large chunk of information, arrows, and links onto the map for each day, the project makers could have included more user interaction by chronologically displaying one section of the battle at a time.  This way users could focus on individual events one at a time, then move on to the next or add the next section to the map.  This would give users a better sense of the movement of the battle and a greater understanding of the change over time.

Step 2

  1. What are the two spatial arguments being made?

The Beijing of Dreams hypercity attempts to create a digital conservation of the architectural artifacts from Beijing. They consider this important because there are already few traces of the past, and it is important to conserve at least photographs so one can imagine traditional China.

The City Witness project follows the citizens of Swansea during and after the hanging of William Cragh, a Welshman who is said to have come back to life after his death.  Using documentation and archaeological evidence, researchers hope to display the movements of people throughout the town in order to better understand this miraculous event.

What features, display techniques, or visualizations advance these spatial arguments?

The display for the Beijing of Dreams project revolves mostly around a map of the city, with an interactive function that allows you to click on different walls, corners, gates, and artifacts that then leads you to images that are of or around that particular place. This function is successful because it not only gives the layout of the city in a visual map, but also allows you to delve into specifics without crowding the map. The basis of this project is relatively straight-forward, as its goal is to allow people to imagine how Beijing looked in the past. Another interesting aspect their emphasis on multi-platform use. Not only can one find the map on their computer, but they also can use their hand-held devices to consult the interactive map, which they encourage tourists who are actually in these parts of Beijing to do.

City Witness features 3d visual representations of the historical landscapes and buildings in medieval Swansea.  There are geospatial maps that attempt to display the city as it was at the time of the hanging, complete with interactive links and map overlays that show movement of villagers throughout the town.  Images, documents, and interviews are combined to give users a better sense of what this medieval city would have looked and felt like during the 1300’s.  The site includes virtual tours, games, and blogs that offer visitors to the site a wide variety of interactive activities.

What might you have done differently to strengthen the argument(s)?

If they wanted to strengthen the argument, they would have provided more context to the existing images, and added more assets than just images. Though they give a brief descriptions to what the photos are of, it would be stronger if they implied why certain images and places were important, and the impact they had on Beijing as a powerful city. Additionally, it could be interesting to have a comparison with the current map of Beijing, just to provide context to how much architecture has changed, and if possible, explain how and why through historical context.

The City Witness site could use different theme colors to make the website itself more attractive. Also, a drop-down menu from the top navigation bar may help users to get access to contents they want to know since users will need to click into different sessions to get further information right now. It would be more interesting if they could plot some of the important historical events or famous people to the maps.

Hypercities (see, vs. Neatline: What are the major differences between these two platforms/tools? Compare and contrast these two platforms/tools? What makes these “better” platforms/tools for making spatial arguments?

Hypercities has a clear and complex navigation system and makes use of multimedia to show the history and geographical changes of cities overtime. Audience could get information not just from maps, but also from images, interactive games and some origin documents. However, Neatline focuses more on the interactions with audience. Neatline projects always have a map as the basic layer and show the timeline of a series of events based on the same map. Users could learn about the information by clicking on the arrows and maps and through other interface designs.

Summary Statement

Though it is hard to generalize spatial humanities projects given their varied content and intentions, it is important to look for the patterns that make projects successful. One of the most important aspects of any spatial humanities project is the ability for easy and coherent navigation. If someone finds a certain project with valuable information, but cannot understand the most efficient way to navigate or the intended way to navigate, the project will not be successful. People who contribute in making these visualizations should do their best to create a clear and interesting display of information that does not take much “fiddling around” to navigate.

It is important for a geospatial humanities project to be accessible and user friendly.  Complexity and an abundance of information can make a user feel lost in the data.  By using shading, overlays, pathways, arrows and various other interactive techniques, researchers are able to break up information into simple, yet comprehensive chunks.  This is best displayed by the City Witness project’s “Discover Medieval Swansea” spatial map.  Using several interactive markers on various important locations in the town, researchers are able to display vast amount of information for each location on the map.  Users can click on a location and find information about tours in the area, the history of a location and its connection to the hanging, photos of the buildings today, virtual maps, and even images of artifacts that have been discovered. One if the main advantages of a spatial humanities project is the ability to show movement over time in order to develop a narrative.  Therefore, it is important for a project to direct the user through the map over time, rather than simply overwhelming them with a cluster of information.

It is also important to consider what kinds of contents are the most successful for spatial humanities projects. Maps are essential elements of such projects, and the importance of maps implies that  location matters and geography is important. Maps with arrows, highlights and images on it could clearly display the movements of people, property, and resources over time. The neatline project of the Battle of Chancellorsville is better displayed using a map also because the decisions made during wartime were also based on the maps. Hence, the maps will make it easier for the audience and users to learn about the history and the role that geographical elements played in the events. Using of maps can also reflect the relationship of time and geo-spatial changes. The Beijing of Dreams project is trying to show the Old Beijing with old photos and maps in this project show the changes of buildings overtime.

Lucy Marr, Dylan Thies, and Chenchen Zhao

Lab #3: Personal Post

Reviewing and comparing the spatial DH projects made me realize that successful DH spatial projects should be accessible and interactive with users, as well as useful in their display of information. A project’s creators should also consider the ability of the used-platform to maintain and preserve itself over time. As we learned by looking through the Hypercities projects, some technologies, such as certain plug-ins for viewing virtual maps, become obsolete. Once computers are unable to access a project’s website, that project is no longer relevant and is essentially dead. Although almost all forms of preservation become old and unusable at some point, the Hypercities projects are relatively recent and should be utilizing some other way of displaying their digital worlds. The Neatline projects, on the other hand, are extremely easy to access and explore and are constantly being updated with new and improved ways to display their information. The constant updates make Neatline a sustainable platform, unlike Hypercities.

Lab 3: City Witness

Part I

What are the two spatial arguments being made?

My Dear Nelly: This project uses the letters that Hotchkiss wrote to his daughter, Nelly, to signal location and movements of Hotchkiss during the time of the Battle of Fredericksburg. This creates a correlation between location and rhetoric within the letters. This project attempts to narrate a historical event through a visual and interactive medium.

Gemini over Baja California Sur: This project looks at two types of satellite images that interact with each other. The author of the project is interested in the similarities and differences between the Gemini photographs and modern satellite imagery of the same locations.

What features, display techniques, or visualizations advance these spatial arguments?

My Dear Nelly: The project uses a map in the background. Letters are placed on top of the map and the user can select on the letter. The user is able to select numbers which represent the historical context behind the story of Hotchkiss. This historical context is marked by the numbers. Within the letters, the names of locations are circled and arrows indicate the location of the indicated place on the map. For example, when he references his home, an arrow points to where his house is in relation to Fredericksburg. Furthermore, There is a timeline included at the bottom. This timeline enables the user to see when the events happened.

Gemini over Baja California Sur: On the bottom, there is a current satellite image map of Baja California Sur, and on top of the map are two photographs taken from Gemini 5 and 11. Each photo was taken in 1965.

What might you have done differently to strengthen the argument(s)?

My Dear Nelly: The project is very confusing when the user first opens the website. We cannot imagine our parents or grandparents having patience to figure out this website. We barely had enough patience to explore it. We kept finding new features. The front-end development is not incredibly user friendly. That being said, we can imagine that learning like this in high school would be enjoyable. It would be enjoyable after we learn all the features.

Gemini over Baja California Sur: The creator of the project outlines his goals for the project well and creates a clear project; however, he could have gone into more depth in terms of the information that he is depicting. There could be more zooming features and more interactivity that deepens the level of information being put forth.  


Part II

What are the two spatial arguments being made?

City Witness: ‘City Witness’ uses medieval testimonies, along with other documentary and archaeological evidence, to investigate questions of locations and perspectives within medieval Swansea. Specifically, the event investigated is an interrogation of nine witnesses about an event they had seen in Swansea, 17 years earlier. This project aims to make medieval Swansea visible to observers today. Wartime bombing and later re-development of the city center have hidden the traces of the medieval urban lay-out and its buildings in Swansea. This project specifically tries to further the understanding of medieval Swansea to reinforce the connection between the modern city and its medieval stature.

Beijing of Dreams: ‘Beijing of Dreams’ attempts to help people remember the charm, beauty and magnificence of Old Beijing. The goal of the project is for Beijing to not be forgotten. Furthermore, the creators wish for the ancient walls and gates to be recreated so that visitors can see how beautiful Beijing once was.

What features, display techniques, or visualizations advance these spatial arguments?

City Witness: This project furthers society’s understanding of medieval Swansea by connecting GIS mapping and 3D digital visualization, with the perspectives experienced by the medieval witnesses within the city. The map shows the topography and landscape features of Swansea. Also, there are many added features to the project. For example, users can play a game that helps develop one’s understanding of medieval Swansea history. Also, there are different types of tours that one can participate in that helps connect medieval Swansea to present day Swansea.

Beijing of Dreams: This project is extremely user friendly. It only takes a minute to realize all of the specifics of the project. The interactive map allows users to select certain gates, walls and corners to look at. If one is interested, he or she may select the feature. Once selected, an old photo representing the feature will display. In some cases, there are slideshows of images if there are many photos or drawings representing a feature of the old city. Additionally, if one is not interested in the interactive map, they can select the categorical feature (ie. gate, wall, corner, miscellaneous, all images, old map) that they want to exclusively look at. Within these categories the specific feature is listed. All images are scanned. Additionally, the project is funded by The History of Chinese Science and Culture Foundation.

What might you have done differently to strengthen the argument(s)?

City Witness: John Baggeham’s account has 12 parts to it in many different locations. It is very frustrating to keep clicking the zoom in, and the zoom out in order to continue the story-line. I [Harris] gave up halfway through the story line because of how tedious it was. I think users should be able to click on the map, but also a timeline explaining all of the events would make the stories more accessible and efficient for users.

Beijing of Dreams: This project could have used more of a comparison between Old Beijing and New Beijing. The City Witness project does a great job of connecting Old Swansea with New Swansea and the Beijing of Dreams could strengthen the argument with a connection between the Old and New City.

Hypercities vs. Neatline: What are the major differences between these two platforms/tools? Compare and contrast these two platforms/tools? What makes these better platforms/tools for making spatial arguments?

Neatline presents an interactive environment that enhances a narrative by embedding it within its geographical space and time period. Hypercities are less linear but draw information from multimedia, social media, archival maps, and hypertext to document the past or make future projections. In this way it can explore a historical narrative. These platforms are appropriate for making spatial arguments because of the effective way they overlay information with the geospatial environment. Hypercities gather information from a greater variety of media but Neatline presents a linear narrative that is usually very easy to navigate.



Part III

Our reflection tackles three questions: 1) How understandable is each project? 2) How applicable to education is each project? 3) How do the visuals succeed in addressing the purpose?

While briefly exploring City Witness (CW) and Beijing of Dreams (BD), is it easy to tell that each archive has different informational complexity. While CW has a vast amount of information with many additional links to click on under each tab, BD is much more simple in terms of the volume of information. In BD, there are no additional links to more information under each tab. Therefore, the volume and the simplicity of the information on BD makes it extremely understandable. Within a few minutes, the viewer can understand what the website is about.  Additionally, the content on BD is primarily visual, therefore the viewer is not overwhelmed by long texts. On the other hand, CW is a much more dynamic and intricate project; however, the volume of information can be overwhelming for the viewer to understand, and the project is more difficult to navigate. [EW]

One would think that the more understandable the project is, the more useful it can be as an educational tool. In the case of CW and BD, both are educational projects. However, CW is the more effective educational project because it presents more of a variety of information. For CW, the objective is to teach a medieval story through an interactive map. This is demonstrated through the ability to change the opacity of the medieval map that is juxtaposed on top of a current day map of Swansea. This project is applicable to medieval education by drawing a connection between present day and medieval Swansea. Beijing of Dreams, on the other hand, is less applicable to an educational setting. The user lacks the opportunity to interact. In some sections, it merely mimics a powerpoint slideshow with different images. The project lacks informational depth, which makes it less conducive to an educational environment. [HP]

BD’s interactive map is successful in helping the user understand Old Beijing. It succeeds because it includes a complete layout of the city which displays buildings of interest as a hyperlink that brings the user to a photo gallery of the building. This makes the site approachable and simple to navigate. While CW presents more information, the visuals do not contribute to the purpose as efficiently as those in BD. An interactive map is present, but it requires boxes to be checked in order to further specify what information is presented. This hinders the readability of the site and makes it difficult for the user to derive a greater understanding of the subject material. However, it does help to bridge medieval Swansea with present-day Swansea. The map includes an ability to change the opacity as a means of overlaying a map of old Swansea on top of modern Swansea to observe the urban development, as well as bring the past to life by drawing attention to historical buildings that are present in both maps. Additionally, other visuals that contribute to addressing the purpose are also present, such as animations and a game which help to improve the site’s readability. [MH]


Created by Michael Hoffman, Harris Pollack and Electra Washburn