Blog Post

Intro and question!

Hi Everyone,

I'm new to HASTAC and to this group, so I wanted to introduce myself and take advantage of the opportunity to ask people's feedback on a project I'm currently working on. I'm still getting used to the website, so I apologize if this is not the right place to post this! 

I'm a PhD student in Art History at Temple University, and I specialize in late medieval and Renaissance architecture and urbanism, specifically in Venice. My current digital project focuses on the mapping and visualization of charitable institutions in Venice through time, and I'm interested in creating an interactive model that will let me differentiate them on a map according to gender (of founders as well as residents) and specific function. In the future, I'd like to connect this information to a timeline with important events in Venetian history, so I can see trends in the expansion or recession of charity according to plagues, wars, etc.

From my very basic knowledge of digital tools, I'm planning on working with Google Earth for mapping and then Neatline. I was wondering if you all have thoughts on or suggestions for my project?

Thank you!






The project seems fascinating! Have yous een this article on the MLA Commons site? They use GIS to do things somewhat related to what you're interested in.




Hi Danielle, I've also been working on visualizations connecting events over time to maps (check out this example map) .  A first reaction:  Google Earth has current geographic data, which is not particularly useful for many historical projects.  I've struggled to find good geographic data that is relevant for even work in contemporary history: shifting cityscapes, reorganized political boundaries, or displaced rivers and canals frustrate attempts to map particular historical periods faithfully, if your point of departure is a map of today.   Do you have access to any GIS specialists who might help you with historical maps?  Has anyone else worked on Venice in your period that might have geographic datasets that you could use?

Congrats on an interesting project and best of luck,



Welcome to the group Danielle!

In addition to Matthew and Laura's excellent suggestions, it seems you might want to look into ways of visualizing social networks (charitable organization members and residents as you say) that are not solely cartographic? I've seen people do some pretty interesting work with programs like Gephi. (You could check out Elija Meeks work at Stanford and Peter Bol's work at Harvard for inspiration on this). Once you compile your dataset, ESRI has some nice "storymaps" that can show change over time but tend to be pretty expensive. WorldMap might be another platform worth playing around with as well as MapStory. I think Neatline seems like a great way to go as well, depending on what you're trying to emphasize. I've been thinking of using it with students in an undergrad lecture course so would be very interested to hear how people find it in terms of the learning curve for shorter projects in the context of teaching. 




These suggestions are great and extremely helpful.

Laura: your project is fascinating! I do have access to a GIS specialist, but I'm in a time cruch because this project is linked to a presentation I'm supposed to give in the beginning of the spring. Since my project covers a large time span (9th-18th centuries), I'm debating whether I should invest the time into dealing with GIS. The city changed so much during that time that going with a specific historical map would be very problematic. I'm thinking of leaving that as a next step, and possibly using GIS in the future to incorporate an 18th-c. map. But thanks for your suggestion!

Benjamin: WorldMap looks like a fantastic resource to my project. Do you know if it would allow me to connect my layers to a timeline, such as Neatline?