I really appreciate Bruzelius’ and Jacobs’ approach to a ‘living syllabus’, and it is definitely something I could see myself using for my own reference/instruction. In a field that is so canonized, I appreciate scholars who are creating work that creates moments for intervention and expansion. In discussing how they chose the objects for their ‘living syllabus’ Bruzelius’ and Jacobs’ explain, “Although we used the canonical objects illustrated in the standard introductory textbooks, we approached these places, objects, and the raw materials of which those objects were made as points of departure for a semester-long meditation on the lives (and trajectories) of things.”
While this project was developed specifically for art historical work and objects, I see this working as an excellent model for archival instruction because archival materials have a similarly rich, varied, and often complicated provenance. Being able to visually breakdown and unpack a story through the use of interactive tools like StoryMaps, Omeka, and TimeMapperJS could help students connect to the history of an object. As a related benefit, I see the living syllabus working as an excellent tool for increasing equity and as a way to shift harmful narratives around archival materials. It would allow for detail and context beyond what a finding aid may be able to provide. Additionally, involving students in the creation of the living syllabus provides an opportunity for greater student interaction, interest, and engagement that can not be overlooked. In fact, it is a main benefit highlighted by Bruzelius’ and Jacobs’: “For students, the creation of maps generated by their individual interests (such as the origins of the cedar used in the Pharaoh’s boats at Giza) stimulated a higher level of research and engagement with the sources. We found that students used a broader assortment of primary materials, and proposed their own solutions or interpretations of the evidence.”
This week, we talked about the pedagogy of DH. Caroline Bruzelius and Hannah Jacobs in their article, “The Living Syllabus: Rethinking the Introductory Course to Art History with Interactive Visualization.” describe a shift in the approach to art education, that move away from viewing artworks in isolation as aesthetic events within a larger linear historical evolution. Instead, students can better engage with the materiality of art objects, tracing their life from creation to collection through the use of maps. This project really spoke to me since the project I’ve worked on for this class has been thinking through some of the same ideas and issues. Seeing a deeper understanding of the role of artworks in large networks and systems of trade, travel, and commodification was really promising to me and I would have loved to take this class.
Allowing students to create maps based on their individual interests, like the origin of materials used in ancient Egyptian boats, the professors can stimulate higher levels of research and engagement in students. Students can use different methods of primary materials and propose their interpretations, fostering critical thinking.
Moreover, the incorporation of visualization and data collection technologies, such as Omeka and Neatline tools, not only benefits students in art history but also equips them with skills applicable to other courses and projects. For example, a student applied these tools to model pollution rates in a different class. The passage emphasizes the importance of integrating digital tools into education, highlighting their role in enhancing twenty-first-century literacy.
The passage concludes by noting the irony that technologies are well-suited to the study of material culture. Despite this irony, technology’s capacity to record, capture, and organize data enables a new level of engagement with art and material culture, fostering a deeper understanding of objects, places, and buildings.
Solmaz Kive in “Digital Methods for Inquiry into the Eurocentric Structure of Architectural History Surveys,” discusses how eurocentric bias shows up in architectural surveys and highlights the advantages of using data analysis and visualization techniques to expose such biases. She focuses on two contemporary surveys, “Architecture and Interior Design” and “World Architecture,” to show how these digital methods can reveal patterns and disparities in coverage.
The Eurocentric bias is identified in several areas, including the relative coverage of different regions, the structure of the survey, and the emphasis on certain building types associated with Western values. She emphasizes that the bias often manifests in an overemphasis on religious structures in “other” traditions, reinforcing the narrative of premodernity.
The analysis uses digital visualizations to map the geographical distribution of buildings discussed in these surveys. For “Architecture and Interior Design,” the map reveals a heavy concentration of examples in Europe and the United States, with sparse coverage in other parts of the world. The disparity is visually evident, exposing areas deemed unworthy of mention. In the case of “World Architecture,” the map shows a more geographically diverse content but still highlights the concentration on certain regions, such as Asia, while specific regions of South America and Africa receive selective attention. The map helps depict the relative scale and coverage of different areas, addressing the mismatch between geographical size and attention in the survey. She concludes by emphasizing the versatility of data analysis and visualization methods because it can expose biases and highlight their adaptability to different types of surveys.
I think that as technology in the public sphere progresses and people get more used to technology, art history and the humanities will have no choice but to adapt and include digital methods. Even things that haven’t been traditionally considered to be “academic” can be used for teaching. Using Pinterest in class was a great exercise and categorizing things visually as an obvious and easily palpable way to visualize something that professors try to describe. This group activity was a really cool way to introduce discussions and start conversations.
This week, we talked about public engagement. The term “virtual museum” has been a controversial phrase for many people, but especially in Germany since the 1990s, who challenged the established definition proposed by the International Council of Museums (ICOM). ICOM says that a museum is a physical space where objects are selected, preserved, interpreted, and exhibited. Critics of the idea of the “virtual museum” say that “virtual” and “museum” are oxymorons, and the importance of physical museum space and engagement with real objects, asserting that the virtual cannot act as a substitute for the real encounter with authentic artifacts.
A methodological approach considers representations of museum collections in virtual space and “e-tangibles” as additional forms of communication that neither replace nor compete with physical museums but address different needs. Digital entities summarizing digital reproductions of museum objects appear as online databases, web portals, and digital exhibitions. Museums systematically digitize their collections, providing open access to object data and digital images through websites, portals like Europeana and Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek, and utilizing semantic web technologies and digital standards like LIDO and CIDOC-CRM.
Digital museum features, including augmented and virtual reality, enhance conventional museum space. Augmented reality offers insights into hidden details, brings specimens to life, and provides untold stories behind collections. Virtual museum space integrates tools to augment museal reality, complementing and enhancing conventional museums through interactivity and user experience.
The goal of a virtual museum is to consider object biographies, link data to the uniqueness of objects, and present a multi-layered view while imparting narratives that emotionally engage visitors in both virtual and conventional museum spaces. Achieving this requires the integration of digital and immersive tools and methods to represent conventional museum space in the virtual world, creating an extended museum experience that encourages the joy of discovery. From a scholarly perspective, having links to biographies and supplementary materials is a dream, and I can only imagine how this would enhance the in-person museum experience.
However, implementing a virtual museum is challenging, and the digital museum documentation standards mentioned above, such as WissKI, can help in data harvesting, but modeling and mapping data remain complex and time-consuming tasks. Bridging the gap between theory and practice involves exploring the virtual museum as an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary field of investigation.
Crowdsourcing provides museums with a unique methodology to establish new relationships with their audiences, transforming the conventional museum-user dynamic by involving the public as curators, experts, and researchers. This approach not only enriches the user’s experience but also enhances the museum’s data and access points. By incorporating the public’s vocabulary and style of description, crowdsourcing expands the museum’s voice, making collections more accessible to a wider audience and fostering mission-driven experiences that encourage engagement with the institution.
In the online landscape today, where the public encounters misinformation, biases in search results, and often invisible artificial intelligence, maintaining a status quo that hinders the mission of museums is counterproductive. Projects like crowdsourcing, seen as an extension of museums’ mission-driven work, offer an opportunity to challenge existing power structures and consciously shape the course of the institution. Acknowledging participation as integral to the institution’s mission allows for the allocation of staff, time, and resources to address contemporary issues affecting the public.
In “Crowdsourcing Metadata in Museums: Expanding Descriptions, Access, Transparency, and Experience”, Jessica Brodefrank discusses how projects like “Tag Along with Adler” contribute not only to understanding research topics but also serve as real-time case studies evolving through actual work at institutions like the Adler Planetarium. As the public’s online habits evolve, cataloging should shift their focus on both the “about” of collections. She advocates for more institutions to engage in crowdsourcing and metadata-generating projects that leverage the enthusiasm and insight of their audiences. These projects provide meaningful opportunities for the public to experience collections and make them more discoverable. Crowdsourcing emerges as an effective strategy to enhance transparency, accessibility, and representation within museum collections, playing a crucial role in museums’ online presence.
I’m really excited about the GLAMWiki project. I suggested to Veronica to incorporate the Feminist Wiki Edit-a-Thon as an ASGO event, since I think lots of art historians would be super interested in this. I’ve found lots of wikipedia pages, particularly of women, that are really insufficient and inadequate.
This week, we talked about 3D modeling and visualization. Amy Jeffs discusses in her article “Digital 3D Modeling for the History of Art” the benefits and uses of 3D modeling as a tool for art historians. She focuses on three projects: the Digital Pilgrim Project, which used 3D modeling for medieval pilgrim souvenirs; Sofia Gans’ study of a medieval brass assemblage; and Robert Hawkins’ application to medieval stone bosses. I thought it was interesting that all three of her examples are Medieval art but when I think about who is the most comfortable with 3D projects (other than architectural historians which make 3D Modeling seem old hat), it does seem like classical and medieval scholars are doing more work proportionally to other areas.
She doesn’t discuss reconstructing buildings, 3D modeling as an independent art form, or 3D printing. The potential of virtual 3D reproduction in generating new research questions and altering perspectives is highlighted. She also provides a basic understanding of 3D modeling, emphasizing photogrammetric methods and the creation of models from photographs. The process involves taking multiple photos of an object, generating a low-density point-cloud through software, converting it into a high-density point-cloud (lines connecting the dots to make a skeleton), and creating a mesh overlaid with texture and color from the photographs (like skin).
One of my favorite examples was the Digital Pilgrim Project that created 3D models of twelve medieval badges from the British Museum’s collection to shed light on the visual language of medieval Northwestern Europe. These badges, everyday objects with various emblems, including those of noble families or bawdy depictions, were designed to be worn and later sewn into manuscripts. Despite their significance, many were discarded and have degraded over time. The 3D models allow virtual handling and a level of scrutiny that isn’t possible with the original as a way to simulate the original owners’ experiences handling these objects. From a museum perspective, 3D modeling can be useful for creating intellectually rich archival records that can facilitate a variety of study and teaching methods. The models have been used in museum outreach, dissertations, seminars, lectures, online articles, and social media, garnering thousands of views. This project really how high-quality 3D models enhance the study and appreciation of objects that are challenging to display in galleries or are relatively unknown. Accessible reproduction of these artifacts through 3D modeling serves as a crucial first step in bringing them to the attention of scholars.
Jeffs concludes that 3D modeling as a stand in for works of art significantly enhances the field of art history for both teaching and research. The accessibility of building, viewing, and downloading 3D models with basic equipment provides art historians with the opportunity to integrate this technology into their everyday academic activities. Exemplified by the Digital Pilgrim and Hawkins projects, 3D modeling can totally transform access to artworks that resist effective display or conventional photography. The selected subjects, medieval badges and sculpted bosses, benefit from viewers’ freedom to choose multiple viewing angles, simulating a fluid pre-photographic viewing experience.
Sarah Kenderdine, in her article, “Embodiment, Entanglement, and Immersion in Digital Cultural Heritage”, discusses the application and use of Interactive Immersive Virtual Environments (IIVE) in the context of digital archives. There has been a big shift in recent years in user interaction with databases, archives, and search engines from basic access to a more creative production, driven by the growth in participant culture through Web 2.0.
Several projects use alternative methods for exploring data in more immersive environments. The Living Web (2002) by Sommerer and Mignonneau, CloudBrowsing (2008–2009) by Lintermann et al., ECLOUD WW1 (2012) by Kenderdine and Shaw, and mARChive (2014) by Kenderdine all demonstrate innovative approaches to interactive and immersive data exploration.
These projects use diverse strategies, such as physically immersing users into live-streamed Internet data, creating spatial narratives in a panoramic screen, and using 3D projection environments to explore large-scale datasets. The focus is on providing users with an experiential and dynamic way to engage with digital archives, fostering creativity, exploration, and new meanings. Kenderdine also highlights the potential of IIVE in changing information retrieval into a more spatial experience, which encourages visual searching, and enhances the display and interpretation of metadata in cultural contexts. I like that Kenderdine is considering multiple facets of a space in her discussion of 3D spaces, like the environment and cultural influences that having digital access (rather than physically going) can help in the dispersion of knowledge. I would assume more archeologists aren’t claustrophobic (perhaps I’m projecting memories of Indiana Jones…) but having digital models of spaces that are physically uncomfortable to be in seems like a major benefit to many people, no jumping out of the way of a giant boulder required.
In my 3D project, I wanted to get a scan of an old camera I have. It was such a fun memory finding it for $6 at a thrift store, but it mostly sits in its box as I figure out where to get film, how to shoot it, if it even works… Having a digital model was a way for me to get it out of its box more! Even if I never opened the box again, a version of it exists on my computer and for someone with a penchant for hoarding sentimental items, I feel more at peace in case my house burns down and I didn’t grab it. I was surprised how easy the process was, and it gave me a lot of confidence for larger institutions that have more money and people to digitize their collections. The back of the camera didn’t take with the modeling, and I couldn’t get it to be quite as sharp in SketchFab as it was in AgiSoft, but overall, I’m really pleased with how it turned out.
This week, we discussed network analysis. Melanie Conroy, in her article “Networks, Maps, and Time: Visualizing Historical Networks Using Palladio”, discusses how a specific technology called Palladio can be used to create networks. Palladio is a tool designed for historians and related disciplines, facilitating the spatial and temporal visualization of data. It was developed by the Humanities + Design Lab, to fulfill the vision for the study of social networks in the humanities. Palladio is suitable for qualitative studies, providing visualizations like maps and network graphs that are familiar to people like art historians and anthropologists. It allows for the presentation of multifaceted data, such as network data with date ranges or categories.
Unlike other network graph packages, Palladio doesn’t have advanced network analytics features but she argues that it does well at presenting historical case studies because it is considered more of a software solution that makes design decisions for users. Palladio was specifically developed for historians, and considers best practices, design research methods, peer critiques, and usability testing. I think it’s really interesting that technology was developed specifically for the humanities! I don’t typically think of humanities being the focus of tech research. The focus is on ease of use, combining diagram types, and quick prototyping.
The tool’s simplicity allows historians to rapidly prototype diagrams, filter data, and explore subsets in highly legible diagrams that can be used for both print and online use. Palladio’s outputs are also not copyrighted, making them suitable for use in commercial and non-commercial works. Even for me, who has been described as a “boomer” for my technology capabilities, found Palladio shockingly easy to use. Unlike other network analysis programs, Palladio’s diagrams are clear and easy to read.
In Houda Lamgaddam, Inez de Prekel, Koenraad Brosens, and Katrien Verbert article, “Perceptual Effects of Hierarchy in Art Historical Social Networks”, the article discusses the impacts of perceived hierarchies in visualizations of historical social networks. Focusing on how the networks are understood, the study finds that human participants tend to have a hierarchical bias when viewing social networks. The hypothesis was that representing social networks in a way that presents it hierarchically would have advantages or sway the audience. This was confirmed and users reported lower cognitive load, more frequent and deeper insights, and a strong preference for hierarchical representations. Despite understanding the meaningful topology in the graphs, they emphasize the importance of considering perceptual benefits in hierarchically structured layouts, particularly in the humanities fields.
The authors encourage an open and critical discussion on the role of network visualization in Humanities research and suggest that this method of structuring layouts should be more commonly accepted as an alternative to graphs. I think the authors are successful in their goal is to provide scholars with different perspectives on their data as a contribution to the ongoing dialogue about the impact that structure can have in network visualization.
This week, we discussed the challenges and benefits to mapping time. Michael Goodchild in his article, “Combining Space and Time: New Potential for Temporal GIS”, discusses the limitations and challenges associated with traditional paper maps and introduces the evolution of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) as a solution. Static maps have many issues associated with them, like distortion of places and the inability to represent three-dimensional information accurately. The advent of digital technology, exemplified by the Canada Geographic Information System (CGIS), revolutionized the sharing of geographic information. CGIS laid the foundation for global GIS practices by converting map content into digital form, allowing for more efficient and accurate representation.
Layering different themes in GIS emerged as a key aspect, enabling advanced operations on geographic data. Despite the shift to digital technology, the metaphor and concept of physical maps continues to influence GIS design.
Goodchild also highlights some challenges posed by uncertainty in GIS. He emphasizes that, like analog maps, GIS databases are simply approximations that may not perfectly replicate the real world.
In the 90s, an object-oriented model emerged, which addresses the issues of a model based on relationships. Rather, it organizes things based on defined objects that get sorted into groups. This model was a significant advancement that allowed for a more accurate representation of geographic information. The discrete-object model, representing identifiable and countable objects, became the most popular display mode, allowing the GIS databases to store non-mappable information which better accounts for changes over time and other issues presented by previous models like blurred borders.
Modern GIS databases can handle dynamism and other complexities that are challenging for static paper maps, which show a limited understanding of a very specific moment in time and space. However, Goodchild also addresses a concept that has been a through line of the course: the resistance to adopt new practices despite vast improvements. I really enjoyed his discussion of how GIS specialists are benefitted by incorporating historians, anthropologists, and other fields to strengthen the accuracy of the maps created. Maps are often considered to be supplementary material, but supplementing the supplement can only bolster the strength and fidelity of the maps. Once again, encouraging an interdisciplinary approach seems to be a strategy that benefits everyone!
Goodchild acknowledges the existing challenges of the field, like the limited availability of tools for dynamic data analysis in GIS and the lack of dynamic, three-dimensional data, especially in historical periods. However, the future of GIS, particularly for historians, is extremely promising!
Considering Goodchild’s article, Suzanne Churchill, Linda Kinnahan, and Susan Rosenbaum put many of the digital mapping strategies to use in their DH project about Mina Loy. In their article, “”Mina Loy: Navigating the Avant-Garde”: a case study of collaborative DH design”, they discuss the on-the-ground challenges of creating a DH mapping project. Although at some points, they seem to be making a case for why we shouldn’t do DH projects, like difficulty receiving funding or a global pandemic, the Mina Loy project is a promising example of what DH are capable of.
In my map, I wanted to capture how time and objects interact with each other and why a single view of time and space is not an accurate representation of an object’s story.
I really love the idea and energy behind crowdsourcing projects in GLAM settings, but I do think it is a tricky balance. As I mentioned in class, I’ve been thinking about the use of crowdsourcing for metadata entry that Jessica BrodeFrank mentions in her article Crowdsourcing Metadata in Museums: Expanding Descriptions, Access, Transparency, and Experience. In her introduction BrodeFrank makes a strong case for crowdsourced cataloging by highlighting two of the major issues that have long plagued metadata entry: labor and transparency. BrodeFrank bolsters her argument by explaining that “…over the last two decades [crowdsourced cataloging] has proven not only to increase access points to collections but also to enrich catalogue data. As well, crowdsourcing presents an opportunity for museums to make what has long been an opaque back-end process more transparent, turning metadata creation into a mission-supporting activity.” Later in the article BrodeFrank points to the divide between descriptive, technical metadata (or ‘structured metadata’) and everyday language when she highlights that prioritizing the first over the later may “hide materials from the wider audiences who may be searching for them—in other words, how prioritizing what objects are can prevent the discovery of what they’re about.” This is where crowdsourced metadata can really make a difference: it’s created for the people, by the people. While I absolutely agree with BrodeFrank’s arguments, especially the concerns around labor, it is that same concern that leaves me feeling hesitant about crowdsourced metadata projects. Even with the use of machine learning and AI, I can’t help but wonder how much labor and time someone may have to spend on the back end to correct for mistakes made by participants and those created by or not caught by AI. Knowing what I know about GLAM institutions, this labor would likely be absorbed by someone who is apart of an understaffed team, and who is being paid too little for the amount of work they do. Additionally, I’m concerned about one of the major issues present in the Tag Along with Adler project: a lack of diversity due to ‘superusers’ who dominant the communal process. Even so, I do think that this is an approach with immense value. I’m excited by the possibility for transparency, access, and diversity of perspective that could be possible through crowdsourced metadata projects – but at this time the process is still saddled with major labor, diversity, and transparency issues that need to be addressed.
Lisa Snyder (discusses the growing availability of Virtual Reality technology and its potential or use within the digital humanities. VR can refer to a wide range of technologies but generally allows users to explore 3D models of various spaces or objects. It seems that VR technology could be particularly useful in modeling architecture or 3-Dimensional historical sites.
I found Snyder’s exploration of the reconstruction model of Santiago de Compostela from UCLA particularly illuminating of the potential of VR technology. Santiago de Compostela is a Romanesque style cathedral finished in 1211. It has been a popular pilgrimage destination throughout history and houses many important relics.
The project was originally started to supplement an undergraduate course at UCLA on medieval pilgrimages. Funny enough, John Dagenais did not get the reaction he had anticipated or hoped for from his students when providing them the opportunity to explore this cathedral in a VR space. This unexpected outcome changed the direction and purpose of the project towards a study on process.
Many of the DH projects we have viewed or read about in this course seem to place a lot of emphasis on process. It seems important to many scholars to create a guide for future scholars in the DH.
John Dagenais worked among a team of technologists, scholars, and students. Although his students did not seem excited about the final project of the model, through the project Dagenais saw the importance of incorporating students into the reconstruction process. This project highlights another large theme from this course and DH at large: the need for collaboration. The reconstruction process was possible with help from both historians and architectural students that were able to create the actual models, as well as many other collaborators. The process of creation, which included making 3D models from textual references, images, and 2D drawings, brought up many questions and revealed many insights along the way. For example, “The process of constructing the virtual cathedral from excavation or theoretical reconstruction drawing brought to light a number of questions and issues regarding the accuracy of the archeological drawings” (Snyder 412). This led to multiple iterations of the model where researchers had to reconfigure the model to be more accurate despite inaccuracies in the resources they used as references. There are discussions of placing an installation revised model within the cathedral itself in order to reach audiences beyond the university setting.
The reaction (or lack thereof) from Dagenais’ students is worth contemplation. Are general audiences excited about VR experiences of architecture or other 3D spaces they would otherwise not be able to experience? It seems as if there are many relevant benefits of 3D modeling in scholarship – the process of modeling brings up research questions and the final product allows scholars to deeply analyze 3D spaces they are not geographically near. The benefits and potential for DH VR projects on the general public are more ambiguous and potentially varied.
The use of VR within museum exhibits is becoming increasingly popular. I wonder about public perceptions of VR technology within museums – do people like it? Is it enhancing viewing experiences? I think that digital technology has a lot of potential for enhancing museum experiences but also has a lot of potential to be implemented without intention and benefit. I will be curious to see how VR develops as a museum tool and the public reception of this tool within museum spaces.
Mapping Gothic France | Columbia University
This modeling project shows a map of France (and also England) with markers of locations of gothic cathedrals throughout the regions. The map is interactive, meaning users can click on the icon (+) and see the name and a photo of the cathedral. This project is very successful – it works well, is easy to navigate both visibly and physically, and is backed by a large amount of scholarship and visual resources.
For many of the cathedrals, users are able to do a VR tour of the space suggesting a large amount of time and money that went into extensive 3D modeling for this project. This project is a great example of a successful project in DH both for scholarship and general audience, especially with access to a wealth of resources.
“Networks, Maps, and Time: Visualizing Historical Networks Using Palladio” by Melanie Conroy discusses the use of Palladio, a data tool that allows you to filter, produce diagrams, and display data spatially.
The article highlights how data visualization can be tricky within humanities scholarship because it requires knowledge of both visualization principles and mathematics. This can be achieved through collaboration with scholars who have these specific skill sets but finding affordable and available data science collaborators can be challenging.
Palladio was developed by historians making it an interesting tool to analyze within the realm of digital humanities. I am interested in the future of data management and visualization tools specifically created for humanities scholarship. I posit that digital humanities scholarship will become easier for humanists without a background in data science and visualization as more tools such as Palladio are created. I also believe that it is increasingly important for humanities scholars to learn digital skills, data science principles, and visualization techniques. I wonder what the future will look like – will there be more emphasis on learning digital skills within humanities academic programs? I can foresee three futures emerging within the realm of digital humanities scholarship. 1) The increased need for humanities scholars to train in digital skills.
2) Continued specialization and increased collaboration. 3) The creation of more tools by data science professionals that allow humanities scholars without comprehensive digital skills to work with data and make visualizations.
I believe that increased collaboration between humanities and data science fields would help bridge gaps that keep many disciplines unnecessarily separate from one another. While it seems like humanities scholars should be trained in digital skills, I still think there should be an element of collaboration between disciplines on academic projects.
ORBIS: The Stanford Geospatial Network Model of the Roman World
This tool is extremely well designed and glitch-free. A problem with many DH projects is the breakdown of the digital interface overtime. This project seems as if there are people constantly working on maintenance and upkeep. I appreciate how the tool includes information about its creations and about how one should interact with the tool. It also includes an optional tutorial that helps you navigate the site.
The project is a way to understand transportation within the Roman World. With this tool, users are able to choose a starting and end point within the Roman World. The user is able to control the season, transportation method, and other aspects of the proposed journey. It is immediately clear this project is backed by a large amount of scholarship. The user is able to choose very specific options to alter the specifications of transportation. For example, one can choose which month or season, as well as which network modes (road, river, open sea, and coastal sea) can be included in the generated route. There are options to choose which attribute the generated route prioritizes: fastest, cheapest, or shortest.
The generated Route displays the route on the physical map and includes many specific details that further highlight the extensive scholarship backing this project. The generated journey tells you the length of the trip, cost, distance, and which sections would be completed on a donkey, wagon, or carriage.
This project seems well-suited for non-academic audiences – it is easy to use, even on your first visit to the site. The information is also presented in an extremely consumable and relatively accessible format. I imagine that older children would also be able to navigate this site. While not all DH tools need to be accessible and usable by the general public – this project gives a great example of one that incorporates highly academic scholarship into a highly usable interface. This project gives me a glimpse into the types of digital humanities projects that might be used for younger, or more general audiences.
“Mina Loy: Navigating the Avant-Garde” is a collaborative digital project created by researchers from Davidson College, Duquesne, and the University of Georgia. One of my main takeaways from their article published in “Visualizing Objects, Places, and Spaces: A Digital Project Handbook” is how large an undertaking a project like this can become. This project took 4.5 years and helped many different individuals from all three Universities.
I appreciated their discussion of how graduate students were intentionally incorporated into the project. I think this project could work as an example for other University-led digital humanities projects. The Mina Loy project gave graduate students freedom and responsibility. This approach demonstrates how digital humanities projects and their creation can be used as a teaching tool. The authors of this article acknowledged how faculty researchers can learn from graduate (and undergraduate) students due to their differing skill sets and new perspectives. This model of intentionally incorporating students seems well-suited for open ended projects that would benefit from creative and non-traditional ideas that students might bring. The authors of this article discuss the exploratory nature of the project, calling it “flexible” and “organic.” They mention its “flexible limits” which I believe makes it well-suited for a project that can incorporate student researchers. Incorporating both graduate and undergraduate students into the creation process, as well as respecting their contributions disrupts a traditional hierarchical modality of learning and teaching.
While celebrating new modes of teaching and learning through this project, the Mina Loy project is also extremely practical and honest in their approaches. They discuss the timeline constraints of students – they are often involved in a project for short amounts of time and their work might have to be confined to a single semester. To work around this specific time frame, they have students give editing rights to future student and faculty researchers. This way, the students’ work can be included and folded into the ongoing project at large.
I appreciate their Digital Project Handbook because it highlights how this project was a sort of “experiment in DH scholarship.” The researchers frame their project by discussing much more than the final project; they are equally as focused on the process of creation. They include many specific details and resources to help others take on similar projects. I like their transparency with timelines, hardships, and specific software tools they used throughout. For example, they include a link to a “DH Toolbox” that provides access to their custom “DH Scholarship Theme” on GitHub.
I wanted to provide a short review of “Perspectives on the Haram” a digital humanities project that incorporates a map. This is an example of one way we can visually represent spatial histories. A little more about the project:
“Perspectives on the Haram aims to showcase the Haram Mosque and Mecca throughout time by drawing upon the accounts of different travelers spanning one thousand years. By focusing on these accounts we hope to not only showcase the ways in which the Haram changed over time, but also the parts of Mecca that travelers found most worthy of recording.”
The project includes a large map, central to the user interface. At the bottom of the page there is an interactive timeline that lets you scroll throughout the years. As you scroll the map shifts positions to highlight the relevant areas. You can click on specific travelers and learn more about their accounts by clicking on their name along the timeline or on a menu bar on the right side of the screen.
While there are a few bugs on the website that make some of the text hard to read, overall this project is very successful! The inclusion of both a map and timeline into one project helps give users a comprehensive look at the Haram Mosque and Mecca throughout time. This projects highlights the strengths of DH projects, because the information presented would be a lot less compelling without the map and the timeline.
I wish the map component of the project was more interactive and contextualized for the user. The map seems to jump around haphazardly when clicking on various travelers. Also, since pretty much all of the accounts deal with the Mecca or Mosque site, the map ends up taking you to pretty much the same spot each time you click on a different person. I think this project would benefit from a more detailed and zoomed in map that highlighted different locations on a smaller geographic scale. There are many icons on the map that are not labeled or discussed in the project which is a bit confusing. I would love it if there was a legend for the map explaining these symbols.