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