Mapping the Digital Humanities

Mapping the Digital Humanities

A HASTAC Scholars Discussion Forum hosted by

HASTAC Scholars Jentery Sayers and Matthew W. Wilson (University of Washington)

Much has been said of maps, and it seems that---with technologies and
software such as Loopt, the iPhone, ArcGIS, and Google Maps and
Earth---people are becoming increasingly familiar with where, exactly,
they are located. Of course, mapping suggests more than "you are here."
It implies not only the delimiting of how people relate to each other,
to space and place, and to objects, but also the study of how those
relationships emerge. What's more, mapping is no doubt a slippery term.
As scholars such as Willard McCarty note, it is affiliated with an
array of other concepts and practices, such as modeling, diagramming,
networking, and representation. With such affiliations in mind, this
HASTAC discussion seeks to aggregate and unpack how "mapping" (broadly understood) is
mobilized in
different learning and research spaces, across the disciplines, in the
field of the digital humanities:

  • How does mapping inform how scholars identify novel
    patterns in their own research and archives?
  • What does mapping afford pedagogy and classroom learning, and how
    does it foster collaboration and media expansion?
  • How do mapping projects by academics alter how they engage their
    community partners and publics, and vice versa?

Regardless of experience in or familiarity with the digital humanities,
we invite participation from anyone who is currently involved in a
mapping project. We imagine that contributors could include, but are
certainly not limited to, critical geographers, cartographers, literary
historians, artists, architects and urban planners, community-based
researchers, cultural anthropologists, information scientists, students
in digital humanities courses, public intellectuals, and scholars of
new media, design, and composition.

Jentery Sayers is a PhD candidate in the Department of
English at the University of Washington (UW), and he teaches
computer-integrated courses situated in the digital humanities, new
media, and science and technology studies. In both his research and
teaching, he is invested not only in historicizing technology in
particular cultural contexts, but also exploring how it can be
mobilized through creative, critical and collaborative projects. His
dissertation, "Invisible Technologies?: Media Ecology and the Senses",
attends to how technology is culturally embedded in 19th and 20th
century Anglo-American literature, with particular emphasis on sound
technologies and their relation to print. In Spring 2009, he is
teaching two courses: ?Mapping the Digital Humanities" (an advanced
undergraduate course at UW-Seattle, in the Comparative History of Ideas
program) and "New Media Production" (an introductory arts technique
course at UW-Bothell, in Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences). He has
been named a HASTAC Scholar, a UW Huckabay Teaching Fellow, and a UW
Science Studies Network Fellow for his technology-focused cultural
research and collaborations in the development of digital humanities
curricula. In 2009-10, he will be a dissertation fellow in the Society
of Scholars at the Simpson Center for the Humanities at the UW.

Matthew W. Wilson is currently a PhD candidate in the Department
of Geography at the University of Washington, and will be Assistant
Professor of Geography at Ball State University in the next academic
year. His research is situated across political, feminist, and urban
geography as well as science and technoculture studies, interfacing
these with the more specified field of ?critical geographic information
systems?. He is interested in how geographic information technologies
enable particular neighborhood assessment endeavors, and how these
kinds of geocoding activities mobilize notions of ?quality-of-life? and
?sustainability?. His dissertation research concentrates at the
intersections of several phenomena, namely the energies with which
nonprofit and community organizations approach neighborhood
quality-of-life issues, the increased role that geographic information
technologies have in addressing this kind of indicator work, as well as
the increased geocoding of city spaces more generally. In his fifth
year as an instructor with the University of Washington GIS Certificate
program, he lectures on principles of cartography and cartographic
critique. He also serves as the editorial assistant for Social &
Cultural Geography. He has been named a HASTAC Scholar and a Huckabay
Teaching Fellow, for his collaborative role in developing
interdisciplinary pedagogies for the digital humanities.

25 comments

I hope this finds everyone well, and thank you for reading and participating in this forum!

One mapping project in which I am currently involved (with Matt) is, fittingly enough, entitled "Mapping the Digital Humanities," which includes a digital humanities curriculum for undergraduates at the University of Washington. Matt and I co-designed the curriculum under the mentorship of Phillip Thurtle (Comparative History of Ideas at the UW) and Sarah Elwood (UW Geography), and I am currently mobilizing (and revising) that curriculum in an undergraduate course at the UW, Seattle. (Of note, on April 8th or so, the course site will be passcode-protected until mid-June.)

Collaborating with Matt has been terrific for me because (for one reason among many) my background is in literary criticism and technoculture studies, and in our work I'm learning how "mapping" functions in different, technology-focused scenarios. For the last two or three years, I've used "mapping" to describe how meaning is located or how two or more concepts are articulated (e.g., "here, gender is mapped onto technology"). However, in the "Mapping the Digital Humanities" curriculum and course, "mapping" also implies acts of geographical and literary mapping. For instance, students are collaboratively mapping the UW campus (using Google Earth and Maps) and individually mapping (or diagramming) texts of their choice. The individual mapping could also be referred to as a "distant reading," which, according to Franco Moretti's Graphs, Maps, Trees is "the deliberate reduction and abstraction" (1) of texts to particular elements in order to visualize the interconnections between those elements.

I find the concept of "distant reading" particularly relevant to digital humanities research. For one, it offers exciting ways of using new media in or as an academic project. What's more, it is a materialist approach to form (Moretti 92). The models Moretti provides in Graphs, Maps, Trees are abstractions, indeed; however, they are abstractions grounded in the material substrata of literature as a social form. Additionally, from my own experiences, technology-aided distant readings are not simply re-presentations of existing work. A map of literary history is not merely a visualization of a claim in a dissertation chapter. Rather, distant readings require particular methods for literary and cultural criticism (including quantitative approaches), and those methods become vehicles for experimentation and surprise.

That said, at this juncture in my research and teaching, there's one thing that I've been asking of distant reading: How to produce a distant reading with texture? That is, I'm wondering how abstract models, such as the ones Whitney Trettien blogs about in "Mining (Con)texts", can become increasingly layered and ultimately allow scholars to pressure the complex relationships between elements in a given classification system. "Texture" can thus suggest the dynamics of how people, objects, events, and places are linked or tied together in material ways. Of course, these links and knots do not result only in unions or agreements; they also produce contradictions and enable exclusion.

During this forum, I'll be searching for (and perhaps posting) some examples of distant reading with texture. In the meantime, I'm very much interested to hear people's opinion on this issue---on how to produce abstractions of texts that not only visualize elements and their interconnections, but also animate those interconnections. Granted, Google Earth (with its new historical imagery feature) comes to mind. It affords audiences with ways to perceive how places have changed over time. Still, I'm wondering if anyone is doing something comparable with literary or cultural criticism, in particular.

Looking forward to more soon...

97

Great topic, thanks! I?m interested in hearing your comments and thoughts on the uses of mapping in the classroom. A simple question: Do we start out with maps or do we end up having produced them by the end of the term? I certainly enjoy getting lost, but you cannot really recognize yourself as in a crisis without being at a crossroad. The above linked course site seems to simultaneously enable and frustrate cognitive mapping of your course. Any thoughts on how we might apply concepts like a ?mashup? in order to create short-circuits without losing complete focus?

102

Jed's posting strikes a chord with me. A syllabus is a pre-determined roadmap for any subject/topic. How do we craft mappings without a compass? Tell me more, Jed, about what a mashup might look like. I'd like to play with this in class (while having generational visual flashbacks to car games with my siblings involving Burma Shave signs). 

97

Thank you, Julie, for your comment. 

Boundary objects (and boundary work, broadly understood) are quickly becoming recurring concepts in the "Mapping the DH" course this quarter.  

For example, I would certainly consider a collaborative Google map to be a boundary object.  It's a space shared by a number of students, who can contribute to it simultaneously or in paralle, but it can also serve different (and contradictory) social functions and student projects.  That said, and with regard to my previous comment, I like thinking of it as a distant reading with texture.  For one, through the use of new media, it enables layered engagements with the students' actual campus.  

But, perhaps more relevent to your comment, Julie, I'm also wondering how to help students transfer skills learned in the collaborative mapping to their individual projects, which are liteary (or textual) mappings (e.g., mapping places in literature, diagrams of literary history).  

I'm currently understanding this transition (from collaborative geographical mapping to individual literary/textual mapping) as a transition from work more commonly associated with media studies (e.g., the development of participatory and social media competences) to digital humanities work (e.g., computational methods in text mining, mark-up, and visualization).  Of course, "more commonly" are the keywords here. (Despite my inclinations for "distant reading," I don't want to be too reductive here.) 

Such boundary work will, or so I hope, allow students the opportunity to learn what knowledge transfers from field to field and discipline to discipline and how that knowledge must be mobilized differently in those spaces.

One dilemma I'm already encountering: how to teach (and encourage) students to be simulateneously strict (e.g., in text encoding) and flexible (e.g., in project development), abstract (e.g., in creating data elements or categories for data modeling) and concrete (e.g., in their data gathering), technical (e.g., computation) and critical (e.g., literary and cultural studies).

This dilemma is not just a matter of creating the "right" modules; it's also a matter of asking students to resituate how they approach and delimit humanities research.   Boundary work, indeed.  

More soon!

 

 

94

Thanks, Julie and Jed.
Indeed, Jed, I'm a frustration enabler! I've had a few comments on the class site, which I wanted to look more like a paradigmatic collection of micro-content (or association blocks) for the course than a syntagmatic guide for what students should (and will!) achieve by June. (Appropriately, the print version of the syllabus looks quite different and affords a different perception of the course.)  

A few responses, then, to both of your comments:

I've been revising the course material repeatedly, and it's only week 2! During the first class, I gave students print versions of the modules and assignment prompts, and a great number of those have already been revised. In other words, I'm hoping to perform---pedagogically and materially---the notion of flexible learning. I don't want the class to be "pre-determined" in that regard.

"Start with maps or end up producing them?" Why not both? One rationale behind the individual AND collaborative projects is to have students collaborate using an existing map (as a shared space), learn affirmative critiques of classification and boundary formation (through literature, theory, and in-class applications), and---by the quarter's end---produce their own maps. I didn't want students to conclude the course having learned to critique classification without also attempting to create classification systems of their own. (Bowker's and Star's work has been incredibly helpful here.)

I'm not sure this class would work if it were not project-based---if it were, for example, a history or review of DH, where students were asked, in a specific way, to be accountable for specific content. For instance, in a review or history of DH course, I don't see (at least on the quarter system) having enough time to allow for the simultaneous production-critique-reproduction of maps. The "Mapping the DH" class is functioniong as a lab or studio, where there are standards that foster flexible approaches.

On focus and compasses: generative constraints (borrowing from Oulipo) have worked for me and (I believe) the students. One example is a particular question or challenge for each class. Another is repetition, with difference. I'm beginning each class with a review of the class thus far, emphasizing core concepts and issues we're facing (individually and collectively). A daily "we are here," if you will. Neither of these determines where individual students will go, but it should help give them the vocabulary and competences to map out their own trajectories.

Thanks again!

100

Thanks for these comments Jentery!

I guess I'm interested in thinking about the ways in which students come to recognize geographical maps like the collaborative Google Map as already a boundary object, composed of various acquisitions and reliances before the collaborative moment.  In other words, can we destabilize the Google Map, while in the same classroom space rely upon it for our curricular activities?

93

A couple years back, I bumped into a scholar who was creating a map of Hawai'i based on cultural knowledge.  I'll try to find the details, but I think that the creation of worlds as they appeared to historic and cultural actors is an incredible untapped opportunity.  These maps (And virtual spaces) may not be accurate from a modern GPS-enabled standpoint, but they would serve to model the spatial conceptions of local and historical communities, which may increase our understanding of why societies make the choices they do.  I know, for instance, that in Shang-era China the conception of space and environment was malleable and not necessarily associated with the actual geography.  Some work, I believe, has been done on this question from the military perspective where plans are laid out by distant commanders using maps of the region and the unit commanders are forced to deal with the actual terrain and local advice, but, other than the aforementioned example, I've yet to see a virtual representation of geography and environment as envisioned by historic actors.  Any links would be much appreciated.

140

As someone who has worked with georeferenced databases and ArcGIS, I'm struck more by their seductiveness than by their explanatory power. I think we're in the middle of a sea change as far as utilizing digital spatial tools for humanities research. While ArcGIS, for instance, offers a host of interesting and relatively user-friendly spatial analytical tools, it's suitability for use in the humanities seems to be limited to quantifiable questions, and so scholars may be tempted to restructure their own qualitative questions to suit the tool. This isn't necessarily bad, as I feel that even the creation of middling digital academic media is valuable from a dialectical perspective, in that it at least gives us content to critique so that we can pose better questions for the next project. However, I am concerned about the growth of using KML-like spatial tools to act as a simple geographically-oriented index (Like a table of contents, except placed on a map, but still linking to primarily text-based, qualitative data). I think that until we can begin to integrate the complex, qualitative aspects of our research into a spatial framework, then we'll be stuck in Representation, and never move to Analysis within the digital environment (Rather than performing analysis, as we do now with traditional maps, in the externalized frame). Representation is wonderful, and necessary, as anyone who has seen bad maps arbitrarily wedged into good books can tell you, but it's not really dynamic. At its best, KML can give you non-linear but static access to knowledge, and that's ends up being another example of using a new medium to recreate an old one (Static maps and atlases). Even the most data rich KML file is still entropically static, as it does not create any new knowledge in its own manipulation.

 I think we should look at the environmental modeling being done in the sciences for inspiration on creating algorithmic representations of knowledge and seeing how these representations interact with each other and themselves over time. The end result resembles a map, but has a depth to it that allows for substantially new questions to be asked. This requires us to look for a suitable methodology that already systematizes the area we're looking at, one of the reasons why I feel World Systems Theory is so attractive, and once we begin to build abstractions of systems, we can navigate them in a non-linear manner but, more importantly, interact with them and cause them to interact with themselves.

81

I've seen attempts at supporting mapping as a dynamic, interactive experience. Atlas.ti is a qualitative analysis tool that has a feature, for example, that lets you lay out networks of concepts and objects, define relations between them, and then make some of those relations hierarchical, move them into different layouts to see new proximities, delete or collapse nodes. Truth be told, I've never gotten the hang of it because mapping on a small laptop screen is its own very consequential limitation on how "at play" and provisional my mappings can be. But the kernel seems like a very different take on mapping than the KML example you give.

This puts the emphasis on the activity of mapping, always perspectival, always enacted, rather than the map, which is supposed to be a representation of something out there, with all of its social relations hidden in its materiality. I'm all about provisional mappings and intellectual play, and tend to be uninterested in making maps. 

101

I haven't seen Atlas.ti before, but I think you make the critical distinction in less words than I did--mapping is an interactive experience whereas maps, for the most part, are static and the interaction with them occurs outside the area of the map.  Current technology allows us, though, to never leave the digital space, if we set it up correctly. 

As far as I know, outside of environmental modeling, the only digital media in which this takes place are map-based games, such as civilization.  There, you can modify the geography and spatial characteristics of objects and have them interact without ever creating a mediated layer (Such as the bounded areas that Atlas.ti uses, or the overlays that KML uses) without ever leaving the digital space.  There's a <a href = "http://www.stanford.edu/group/htgg/cgi-bin/drupal/?q=node/921">call for papers</a> on just this topic.  I think this is just what the field of game studies needs, as it's mostly focused on first-person shooters, platform and puzzle games, while leaving the many high quality map-based games unexamined.

While these games aren't scholarly tools like Atlas.ti, I wonder how many digital humanities scholars have had experience with games like Civilization or the Total War series, and what their exposure to these pieces of historical map-based digital media have done to influence their own conceptions of the role of maps in a digital environment.

99

When I live in Japan, I have hoko onchi--direction tonedeafness. It is a legitimate disability there and I love the careful way I am guided about, in recognition of my inability. So whenever I read fascinating conversations like this one about mapping, I wonder how do those with no sense of direction, no skill at map reading, contribute to map building. (Here's another personal secret: if we're ever lost in the woods together, with no markers, count on me: when I was still a fisherperson, my septugenarian fishing pals who had lived their whole lives in the Canadian Rockies learned to count on their horses when we were riding and on ME when we were walking). The whole point of this is that I believe there is a kind of echolocational mapping that is not yet conceptually incorporated into maps which carry with them so many of the dominant and Western locational tropes as hidden assumptions. Are there ways to incorporate haptics, positionality, and relevancies---GPS and cloud tagging? I know this is a bit off point . . . but that's the point of those of us gifted with hoko onchi. We get where we need to go but we use different systems to do it. How can we rethinking mapping using new digital 3-d and multimedia tools which might allow us to envision representation anew?

95

I love Cathy's line of questioning, and  I'd like to point to Greg Ulmer's work here to extend that line of questioning.  If Ulmer is right that the apparatus of literacy has neglected the affective in the name of the "objective" (he gives an extended argument for this in _Internet Invention_), the  new ways of mapping will be crucial.  These new cartographies will have to at least account for the "sting" of Barthes' punctum - they will have to try to account for the hoko onchi that we all share.  The "Map" assumes that there is a person out there without "tonedeafness," but it's probably more accurate to say (and I don't think I'm breaking any new ground here) that a good map reader (one with a good sense of direction) is a certain kind of learner.

So how do we think about map making after accepting that various ways of seing (or libinal desires) are part of our "sense of direction."  One assignment I use in conjunction with Ulmer's _Internet Invention_ is called "Mapping Home."  I blogged about this awhile back:

 

http://www.hastac.org/node/1727

 

"Mapping Home" is an attempt to enact the affectivity of spacial representations...and I think it might get at some of the topics being raised in this forum discussion.

James J. Brown, Jr.

University of Texas-Austin

95

There's a lot of really good work out there on cultural mapping that I've barely dipped into, much of it in STS. David Turnbull's "Masons, Tricksters, and Cartographers" tells of how european tax collections and naval explorations led to different kinds of maps, produced by different actors, to have to be stitched together and made commensurable in ways that took a lot of work. Jim Griesmer's current work (http://web.me.com/griesemer/Griesemer/Work_in_Progress.html) is looking at how the idea of a "precise GPS" or scientific location is actually fraught with ambiguity and insensibility when taken over a hundred year period in a particular nature preserve tracking where its species go and have been. And Helen Verran has a SSS article on what happens when aboriginal australians and australian scientists come together to share their land firing regimes, based on completely different notions of space, with one another. (Frustration and confusion ensues.)

117

I've been using GoogleMaps in my Rhetoric classes for two years now (prompted, actually, by Jim Brown's Mapping Home project) and I'd like to address Matt's great question: What does mapping afford pedagogy and classroom learning, and how does it foster collaboration and media expansion? Here are two snapshots of how mapping can work in the classroom (examples, I think, that can be adapted across a range of disciplines and writing assignments):

 

Last year, I encouraged students to literally map a paper they were developing in multiple drafts in GoogleMaps. GoogleMaps works particularly well for student writing projects, I find; it's easy to use, and by urging readers to follow a number of points sequentially down the sidebar, students can fashion a traditional paper into a map format fairly easily. Apart from the obvious advantages of teaching students how to write to the web effectively, the translation of paper to map helped students to flex the conceptual boundaries of the topic they were writing about. The project also increased their investment in the project. Most of them enjoyed the process, and a few of them even published the maps to various websites and blogs.

The fact that students began to publish their maps led me to a useful realization about writing with maps: the structure of the map supports the student writing. As long as the student is writing clearly and is being savvy about writing hypertextually, they can often produce work that can be easily published (in a way, perhaps, that even a reasonably polished draft of a written article might not), because the argument or narrative contained within the placemarkers is scaffolded by the spatial and interactive properties of the GoogleMap itself.

This realization led me to devise a more ambitious map assignment this semester. Using the collaborative function in GoogleMaps, groups of students have to find an organization out in the world who is doing work in relation to the class topic (globalization) and collaborate with that organization to make a map that promotes their work. In this model of map assignment, the map now becomes part of a larger process of collaboration: the students need to figure out how to be convincing to the collaborating institution; learn to coordinate a reasonably complex project; work in teams; work with people they may have never met; and do careful research for a final product that is almost guaranteed to be published. In other words, the map becomes a kind of hub around which a whole bunch of writing, rhetorical and collaborative production occurs.

I like the way that Jentery describes a GoogleMap as a boundary project: "It's a space shared by a number of students, who can contribute to it simultaneously or in parallel, but it can also serve different (and contradictory) social functions and student projects." This fairly accurately describes what's happening to my students at the moment. They went into the project thinking of the final artifact as a bounded end-product in a fairly abstract sense, but  are now mired in all the challenges, complications, frustrations, and excitement that a collaborative social media project can produce. The boundaries between the classroom and the world, writing and mapping, and the personal and the collective are all up for grabs as my students hurtle toward the end of the semester and (hopefully) a successfully completed collaborative map project.

Thanks for a great thread, and apologies for not being able to publish my prompts. They should be up shortly on UT's CWRL website.

Sean McCarthy,

University of Texas, Austin

96

In your introduction you mention only proprietary mapping procucts. At the recent technical MediaWiki meeting in Berlin, the Wikimedia Foundation decided to host its own copy of the Open Street Maps project. The relevance is that the WMF will use Open Street Maps for its mapping and consequently given the relevance of Wikipedia as a content provider it will in time seriously challenge the other offerings. This will at least keep the others honest.
From a philosophical point of view, you make your mapping data dependent on proprietary formats when you choose a commercial product. It is in the interest of Open Access to consider whether closed standards are to be used.

Thanks,
Gerard

99

Thank you, Jim. This is great and I saw and appreciated your blog the first time but am now going back and rethinking it in the context of this conversation.

93

What an interesting discussion, and a topic that's been much on my mind lately as I've started creating maps for my own current writing project, linking together what chunks of text match with what. I began doing this in order to see how the network I was attempting to create played out realistically. It immediately became obvious to me that some of the themes I was writing about were very closed, cycling over and over again into themselves, whereas others branched out too much, straying into new territory. The key (I found) was to balance every node, such that each paragraph or text block relates to as many text blocks as all the others do (i.e., each links to 4 themes).
I know that sounds abstract in a conversation that has covered very concrete territory. I bring it up not only as an example of how I've used mapping in my own work, but as a metaphor for Digital Humanities as a whole. I see a tendency in some of the heavy-hitters in the projects category (like NINES, perhaps) to close in on themselves, creating spaces for the construction of webtexts that are themselves so restrictive both in design and functionality that they're only useful within the system they were created in. At this stage in the game, maybe that's inevitable. Implicitly, though, we all have to balance the maps we visualize for our own research; I'd love to more of that intuitive, internal sense of structure guide how we construct media for making meaning in a networked world.

98

Whitney's posting strikes a chord with me, since like Jentery I'm engaged in trying to map the field of Digital Humanities. I'm struck by two things. The first is the boundary work that goes on when projects and networks "claim" definition, in parallel or contradiction to other claims that map the field. The second is the movement towards greater openness in early electronic text editions and CD-ROMS that were initially off-net. Building in more interactive features, including critical revision, is a striking feature of changes being made in earlier sites, allowing participants to engage in mapping interpretation as well.

 On another note, I'm glad to see Jim Brown in the dialogue. Are you indeed the same James Brown who is about to become my colleague at Wayne State? We're excited about you joining us and already planning our WSU-HASTAC Digital Humanities Collaboratory event on "Digital Writing."

 

95

Hi,Whitney, It's so interesting that you say this because I just spent my twenty minutes of daily Facebook time and found that I found wonderful photographs of a friend now in hospice care (queer theorist Eve Sedgwick), the protests against the Amazon.com policy or glitch (depending on when they are updating) that counts even scholarly queer books as "adult literature" and omits them from searches, the new MLA citation practice that no longer privileges print, a link to a very harsh piece by Thomas H. Benton about why no one should earn a humanities Ph.D. these days (I think he is wrong---but that humanists need to heal themselves in order to make him wrong!), an article on an Internet bait-and-switch music file sharing prank, and a link to another write-up of Andre Fenton (a brilliant neuroscientist who is also a friend of friends), a link to a new Japanese designer, a Japanese photography show in NY, more snuggy parodies, and so forth. The point is that my "friends" share my interests, even though my friends aren't all friends of one another and we're all Venn diagrams with some overlaps and some differences. This means that the ideational mapping on Facebook may be something closer to the mapping of how a day-in-the-life unfolds at this point in time. My del.icio.us links seem to be more of a piece, but, on Facebook, affect is less regulated and less consistent and may provide a better map. It would be fun to visualize FB link data among a group of friends, in any case. Or even to map one's own links because (sorry to be boring, this is my mantra) since intelligence is interactive, one reason the FB map might be more expansive is because one interacts with others and that pushes things, well, off the normal map and onto new ones. Anyway, all these comments are generating lots of ideas for future projects, and I especially liked your idea of "constructing media for meaning-making in a networked world." That could be the new HASTAC motto, in fact!

96

Great phrase, Cathy -- "we're all Venn diagrams." Not to harp on it, but my mind leaps inescapably to a couple of national science and technology task forces I've been on recently where the gap between the ways that conventional classification schemes map knowledge and the complex ways in which people navigate knowledge and information today are glaringly exposed. The challenge is to use new methods, including powerful new visualization tools for concept mapping and other approaches. Hearkening back to Whitney, conventional taxonomies have their merits but their restrictive power disguises movement within, across, and counter to them. The movement is as important as the structure, indeed remakes the notion of 'structure" in a world of networking with other Venn diagrams. A new HASTAC logo too, superimposed on the globe?

54

Hi, Julie.  Yep, same Jim/James Brown...though there are a few of us :)

 

I'm looking forward to joining you at Wayne State this fall - I hope we have plenty of opportunities to collaborate!

 

James J. Brown, Jr.

University of Texas-Austin

93

I am very glad to have found this thread and the website in general. I've become increasingly interested in sense of place as it relates to researchers and scholars at the university (or agency) level when the work that is being done transcends the physical location of the university / school complex. For me the loss of the specific geography of a single campus in graduate school was a profound one, because I'd come to love the boundedness of the university -- but my graduate experience was one that was made up of multiple centers, laboratories, agencies, mentors and collaborators that did not fit nicely into any particular disciplinary slot - or a single geography. This journey of trying to cobble together something that would work for me academically and intellectually has been compelling, yet I feel a visceral loss as the boundaries have streched. I've described a little bit about this here: http://www.metaversityproject.org/metaversity/?p=169 .

I am interested in describing this process visually, particularly the specific, yet dispersed social interactions that supported this work using a mapping system -- Google maps is the obvious choice -- are there other suggestions that might be better? Allow for deeper annotation or a more hermeneutic perspective (a la ATLASti, but web-based)?

Thanks,
Zeno

90

Talk about a dynamic duo! You two will have a blast as HASTAC Detroit!

92

Thanks for these comments Gerard.  Indeed, within Geography, there is a great deal of interest in emerging mapping practices, particularly those associated with open source/access products.  I wonder, however, if in the context of a classroom it is not somewhat advantageous (if obviously more convenient) to use proprietary tools to emphasize the practices of mapping at the cost of spending time worrying over the data produced by these practices.  In other words, perhaps we're interested in mappings and data-in-the-making, and less about storage, stability, persistence, etc.

98