Lab Assignment 3
My Dear Little Nelly: Web Map 1- Battle of Fredericksberg
Battle of Chancellorsville: Web Map 2
a. The hotchkiss.neatline.org has a variety of spatial representations of the Battle of Chancellorsville and the Battle of Fredericksberg. In comparing the the actual map of the army’s movements to a map containing letters and movements, two closely related battles are represented in different ways. In the first map, Battle of Fredericksberg, the details of a general’s letter to his daughter, Nelly, are matched to their respective locations. The spatial representation of this battle presents historic primary documents in an interactive way. These documents and letters coincide with the underlying map as well, creating an interactive roadmap of the battle. The second interactive map, The Battle of Chancellorsville, contains a series of arrows and pathways, highlighting routes that the soldiers and their armies took in their battles, as well as the location of General’s headquarters. The sidebar contains different dates and times that events occurred, further highlighting the events that took place in an interesting format for the viewer/reader engaging in this web-map.
b. Both of these projects utilize the same mapping system but they display the information in different ways. The Dear Little Nelly map utilizes primary source documents such as a hand-drawn map to illustrate the actions of the battle and convey Jedediah Hotchkiss’s perspective. In contrast the second map is more military tactics focused. It appears to synthesize a wide variety of sources to tell the full story of the Battle of Chancellorsville. The map makers used large colored arrows, descriptive background text, and a timeline to illustrate the phases of the battle. The user can navigate through the map itself to see what happened as the battle unfolded. The first map focuses on the lived experience of one person involved in that battle while the second map tells the military history of its battle.
c. The first web map, the Battle of Fredericksburg, includes an array of primary source letters that one can either zoom in and read, or click and get the translation for the reader. An “about” page or something similar could have enhanced the viewer’s experience with the web-map, so they aren’t “thrown in” to the map without any sort of introduction. The second map, the Battle of Chancellorsville, may have enhanced its argument and historical presentation through the use of images/paintings from the specific dates on its timeline. These would have added to the spatial and visual access that it is trying to provide its users.
Holocaust Stories: http://www.hypercities.com/#/holocaust-survivor-stories
a. What are the two spatial arguments being made?
The Holocaust Stories site marks specific locations of different people’s Holocaust stories. For example, the site highlights the numerous and distant travel stories of Rita and Serena during their Holocaust experience. Inscriptions, on the other hand, uses geospatial techniques to recreate the actual location of sculptures in the Roman Forum. It includes multiple tabs that each serve a different function. The most interesting feature of the site is “Ritual Experience,” which provides a “virtual world” view of the Roman Forum. The user glides through various steps of an honorary procession, which sculptures surrounding the process. In essence, the Holocaust Stories site illustrates a story whereas the Inscription site simulates a historical event.
b. What features, display techniques, or visualizations advance these spatial arguments?
The obvious display technique being used in both projects is Google Earth. In the Holocaust Stories project, Google Earth is used to show step-by-step stories of Holocaust survivors, and pinpoints their specific locations throughout their experience, as well as these locations relations to one another. Furthermore, stories are included explaining the location changes, and the summaries accompanied by the change in points on the map gives the viewer a realistic depiction of how far and how many times these Holocaust victims were forced to travel. In the second project, the “Ritual Experience” tab in Inscriptions, creates a virtual world, almost like a video game. It superimposes 3-D objects – recreations of buildings, statues, etc. – into the Google Earth platform, allowing the viewer to participate in a part of history.
c. What might you have done differently to strengthen the argument(s)?
One of the main criticisms to these projects is that the need to download the plug-in for Google Earth limits the initial accessibility of many users. This being said, Google Earth added a new visual dimension to the project, only previously available if one would travel to these countries and travel these paths. Both projects have solid summaries of the events that took place, strengthening their project. Pictures and videos are also included in some of the stories, making both the summaries and the maps visually appealing.
d. Hypercities vs. Neatline: What are the major differences between these two platforms/tools?
Compare and contrast these two platforms/tools? What makes these “better” platforms/tools for making spatial arguments?
Hypercities and Neatline take different approaches to geospatial mapping. The hypercities platform utilizes current full-color satellite imagery to simulate and enhance stories. The platform itself seems to be very flexible and can be used in a huge variety of situations. For example as part of the Holocaust Stories project hypercities is used to display a location next to written text. But the Inscriptions project uses the same software to project virtual worlds with 3D buildings and annotations. The downside is that it seems to have far more bugs and loads much slower. Nealines appears to use mapping data to help tell stories and display information. It has a much simpler interface with clean lines, bug shapes, and attractive basemaps. May be less adaptable but for the right application it seems to work much better.
Entry by Rachel Fredey, Pat O’Brien, Sara Scalet, & David Morgan.