Lab 3: Spatial Humanities

Exercise One

http://hotchkiss.neatline.org/neatline-exhibits/show/battle-of-chancellorsville/fullscreen

http://neatline.dclure.org/neatline/show/gemini-over-baja-california

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”  http://www.mappingjewishla.org/

“Twitter in Realtime”  http://thebook.hypercities.com/#/mapping-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, http://www.hypercities.com/) 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

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