Digital History — Spring 2010

March 23, 2010

Questions for David Bodenhamer…

Filed under: Uncategorized — ths117 @ 7:09 pm

Dear Professor Bodenhamer,

Thanks for sharing the two chapters of your upcoming book — it was really fascinating not only to read about historians’ projects that merge GIS and humanist aims, but also to think through some of the philosophical implications of the GIS data project. I discovered that while I like to think of myself as a cultural historian and someone semi-hip to postmodernism, thinking spatially apparently stimulates the positivist in me: mound or mountain, you’re still going to burn more energy going over it or around it (or through it).

Nonetheless, I certainly recognize the imperative of maintaining a plurality of vision when it comes to mapping space and place. To those ends, we’ve been discussing crowd-sourcing on and off through this course, as well as Google, with all its benefits and drawbacks. I’m wondering if you had any thoughts about the individual mapping technology that Google provides — the power to label, annotate, demarcate — and share —  multiple maps of your own, based on their data. While it’s lacking some of the fluidity that we would ideally want for smooth historical simulation, this seems like it could be a good teaching tool for students starting to think about cultural fluidity of space and place, as well as a personal tool for historians trying to map changes in the landscape over time.


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