Blog Post

Introduction

I'm honored to have been chosen as a HASTAC scholar this year, and first I'd like to say thank you to Fiona Barnett and everyone at HASTAC. I'm looking forward to being an active part of this community. I'm a PhD Candidate in my sixth year at UCLA, and I work on the HyperCities project (http://hypercities.com/). My dissertation is on the interaction between humanities computing and literature in the twentieth century, and my interests include the geospatial dimensions of literature and large-scale text mining. I've also participated in the successful development of a Digital Humanities emphasis and minor at UCLA. Currently, I run the UCLA Digital Humanities Reading Group, a forum for LA-area scholars to present their research. But what I'd also like to do is talk about a plan I have for this blog.

This year, I'm working on a project called Geoscribe, which is being funded by a Google Digital Humanities Award. Part of what I plan to do with this blog is to talk about developing the project. I think it will be interesting to document the process of development, and I hope we'll get some feedback about the project, maybe in the comments. I'm interested to hear what people think about our theoretical goals, or what features people would like to see.

The basic idea behind Geoscribe is to make a tool for mapping books. There are already projects like GutenKarte (http://gutenkarte.org/) and Google Places Mentioned in this Book that are aimed at generating comprehensive maps of books; Geoscribe is about interpretation. It's based on HyperCities, whose guiding idea is "geotemporal argumentation," which distinguishes HyperCities from a lot of other mapping projects. It's "geotemporal" because it's about telling stories linked to place and time, attempting to temporal and spatial relationships. It's "argumentative" because it's about making connections and speaking from a specific point of view. We're not trying to create one totalizing, objective picture of the world throughout time, but to let people tell their stories, and so show many ways of seeing the past.

Geoscribe will be about making similar arguments that are tied to books. We're combining Google Book Search with HyperCities (which is itself based on Google Maps). With Geoscribe, you'll be able to create maps of places in books; every place on the map you create can be linked to a specific page. For example, imagine a hypothetical project showing how the recommendations of various 19th century travel books about New York intersect with contemporary novels set the city, or the city's changing demographics. Once Geoscribe is in a working state, I'm planning to use it for a chapter of my dissertation, which will be on the historical-geographical subtext of House of Leaves.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to this year and being a part of HASTAC, and I hope my blog will be an worthwhile contribution to the HASTAC community.

 

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1 comment

Hypercities is one of the best projects I know.  I'm so happy you will be able to tell us about what you are doing--and your description here is already deep and exciting and I hope you will do more of that this year.  It is so important to connect the theoretical to the digital, and your blog already inspires some thinking I'll be using in my class this year.  Thank you!  I think you will find many like-minded "fellow travelers" among the HASTAC Scholars.   

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