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

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