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