PA 2 Historypin

Historypin is a map making tool that allows the user to place old pictures of an area over the current street view of the same place in modern day. The creators describe Historypin as a global community collaborating around history. It calls for copyrights and details about whichever photo is being overlaid and gives credit to the picture’s original owner. By placing the picture over a streetview of its current location, it juxtaposes itself between old and new showing how the space has been potentially re purposed or how the sense of place has changed over time. These pictures on maps can be shared via various social media sites making space and place through history extremely accessible.

This tool functions as a timeline that allows the user to tell a story of change over time. By showing time over time it engages the viewer in a story similar to the 21 Steps story map or mental maps like it. Mental maps are maps that tell a story for a user, usually made to represent how the creator moves through space or understands space. Although this reading was not assigned, I felt that Galindo’s “The September 11 Memorial & Museum Map” is an interesting case of a narrative map that tells historical and political stories. Like many of Historypin’s maps, this narrative app relies on archival photos and multiple perspectives. Similar to the 9/11 app, Historypin can help create educational tours of a place.

In a similar vein, geography is history. Because so many spaces are geographically similar, the usage of historical, mental maps to show space, inherently when a person creates a narrative map with tools like Historypin, they are creating a personal history. Identity in a place matters more now than ever according to Charles J. Whithers. In terms of usage, Historypin is perfect for “spatial turns”- placing landscape into a secondary lens and placing whichever subject (Urban planning, Anthropology, etc) into the forefront. Sonni would say these maps represent what the user feels about the space, Historypin maps ask the user to draw from their resources of pictures (whether personal or from archives they have access to) and allow them to show how the space has changed over time for them. If there were several pictures from people of all backgrounds, a Historypin would show a variety of changes (or things staying the same). Urban planners can look at Historypin’s to see how an area has changed culturally when trying to decide where to build and what areas to restore. Maps then become the tool for these subjects to portray various stories or historical events, with Historypin being a perfect tool.

Perhaps not everyone has the time or resources to explore archival data- Historypin is a solution to that problem. If I could change something about Historypin, I would add sound to the maps in order to tell the story with the voices of the landscape. The images can be kind of hard to place over the exact spot that you would want on Googlemaps and so, I would try to make the base map more accurate. I would recommend this tool overall because it allows people to see change over time which tells a larger story of space and place, locality and history.

PA 2: Heganoo Critique

Heganoo is a free mapping website that allows and encourages users to create a story or document a part of history through points of interest on a map. With this ability, people can create their own virtual tours on a map with purposes ranging from education to advertising. The Showcase section shows vast varieties of projects differing in style, purpose, and even whether a map is included (this project, here, does not include a traditional base map).

Creators have a lot of freedom in constructing their projects, but not too much freedom where it could be easy to get lost or too hard to learn. Design choices include map style (streets, satellite, terrain), color, font, language, and map feature customization (by this, I mean the creator can color things such as water, roadways, and landscapes). This allows for uniqueness and diversity between maps even though creators are executing similar steps to build their maps.  Katriina Soini writes that “mapping cannot alone build a bridge between the human and natural sciences in landscape research, but it might diminish the gap between them” (Soini, 235). While Soini refers to the gap between human and natural sciences, I believe that this statement about mapping can apply to the gap between space and explanation of space. Heganoo closes this gap because it isn’t restricted to just ‘mapping’; within each new landmark, the project creator can add media such as text, images, video, and sound. The media is as high a quality as the creator uploads it; Heganoo can handle high-quality images that make the projects even more visually pleasing.

It is, however, very important that the zoom and clarity of the map be appropriate. This is vital in preventing the viewer from being lost or confused. The zoom level depends on the project; for example, zoom that shows the shapes of buildings could work for one project while zoom that shows each state could be better for another. Either way, the viewers need a way to orient themselves within the project. Also, it is beneficial to include images for either none or all of the landmarks; having some with images and some without makes it seem like the project is incomplete.

With Heganoo, the emphasis is on the narrative, and at the same time, digital mapping stands out, making this program very interesting. The narratives in these projects often form arguments about location and time, which engages the viewer more so than a traditional map without an inherent argument. For example, my Heganoo project (which Heganoo was perfect for) from earlier in the semester documented the evolution of fitness centers on the Davidson College campus; the viewer was able to see  pictures, descriptions, and locations of the fitness centers throughout history at the college. My argument was that the college increased fitness centers as physical health became more important and campus population and finances grew. On the other hand, a project on the Showcase page maps the top rodeos in the United States; while this project has a narrative, there is less of an argument. Instead, its purpose is to notify viewers about which rodeos to attend and when to go. Martin Dodge and Rob Kitchin write about the power of the internet to allow people to create their own maps, but they do mention that distortion is still a problem with mapping, even digital mapping (Dodge & Kitchin). Heganoo does not eliminate distortion, but it diminishes the effects of distortion since each project has its own agenda based on the author’s creative choice. With Heganoo, it doesn’t matter as much if there is bias or distortion because the creator builds the map with a certain argument.

I would recommend this tool to others; it is an easy and effective way to construct arguments about interesting topics through digital mapping. It allowed me to create the map that I desired, and it definitely would be compatible with ideas that differ from my original. The program functions as a narrative map, and additionally, it takes the viewer on an interactive tour. Monetti might deem Heganoo as an evolved version of his literary maps, which he explains as preparing text for analysis and providing a visual of the narrative (Monetti, 53). This program ultimately allows/forces users to think about their argument in a way that isn’t limited to writing but instead focuses on mapping as the the primary objective. Like literary maps, Heganoo shows the viewer significance that might not have been understood had it only been read.

Literature Review

Town of Davidson Project

My project seeks to highlight the changes in geographical racial divides in the town of Davidson over the course of 10-15 years. By incorporating the voices of African-American residents that fought for better housing, land, and the opportunity to live in better conditions during the 1960s and early 1970s, I want to tell their story with their voices with the help of mapping tools to paint a larger picture of development and land usage. The project embodies the idea of ‘geography is history’ because as racial relations changed in America, North Carolina and at Davidson College the geography of the town changed with it. Through this project I aim to understand and teach about the history behind being ‘from the wrong side of the tracks’ in a town like Davidson, NC that is racially, socio-economically and educationally divided.  This is a chance to revisit the past to tell the story of so many people whose stories otherwise was not deemed important enough to tell.


In my literature review I will explore how space and place play a role in cartography, how the creative process of map making is inherently subjective and finally, how the creation of mobile stories creates relationships.


The creation of interrelationships through mobile stories


“Computers have increased the powers of maps”- John J. Knoerl, Mapping History Using Geographic Information Systems


Mobile tools have the power to connect people across various mediums because of their accessibility. While some may argue otherwise, the creation of these tools are scholarly especially when using expertise from various fields to do so. The very building of a mobile story is building scholarship because it requires a plethora of information and voices to be incorporated in order to build a full tool (Ramsey).  Looking at Mobile Stories “The Interrelationships of Mobile Storytelling: Merging the Physical and the Digital at a National Historic Site”, the creation of mobile stories fosters relationships and sparks conversations. “Mobile stories foster interrelationships between four distinct entities: content and medium; people and space/time; people and information; and people and other people,” (Grigar, 19). The building of a map over time requires scholarship such as primary sources from the time period which is scholarship. By collecting the pictures and maps of these spaces (town of Davidson circa 1960s) I am repurposing the content in a new medium. This medium gives the information to new people via the web as opposed to having to scour the archives. It also provides newcomers a way to connect with the space in an informed way. While it is no secret that Davidson is racially divided by train tracks, many students, including myself, have no idea on the history behind these divisions. Mobile stories provide the opportunity to learn in an interactive way. Tools like Neatline were created by humanities and digital humanities scholars to “allow multiple, complementary or even wholly conflicting interpretations to be layered over the same, core set of humanities data,” (Nowviskie). When interacting with these tools, users get to engage in the humanities in a way that begs for multiple interpretations and interrelatedness between subjects, data and visuals.


Selectivity of Maps

Early maps of the town of Davidson (1940s-1950s) have a way of presenting the town that centers around the college. While this is not a new phenomenon given that Davidson is largely regarded as a college town, what is interesting about this is the fact that entire neighborhoods are not represented on these maps. As Dodge and Kitchen stated in Exposing the Second Text of Maps on the Net, “maps and their makers are situated within broader historical and political contexts and are thus embodied and selective representations,”(Kitchin, 1). Historically, the neighborhoods and areas of Davidson with high concentrations of African Americans were not represented because the voices of those residents were also not represented politically or socially. There are very little markers on maps that show theses populations as even existing which sends a message to viewers that the town was entirely created, maintained and celebrated by White citizens. This article broadens the idea of specialized mapping when talking about visual representations of the globe. Pushing countries to the periphery just re-enforces, visually at least, the existing world hegemony in relation to the Internet (Kitchen, 2). Cartographers that worked on the town of Davidson did the same thing when failing to include minority communities on the map of the town.  Relating back to a tool we discussed heavily in class, Google Maps is another example of the effects of the selectivity of maps. Backed by the ubiquitous Google, Google Maps has the power to dictate knowledge on a space and place by including said space on a searchable map. When looking back to the implications of this, it is dangerous to simply not include a place because some researchers may not think it is worthy or that there will be any interest from users. While thinking about Davidson town maps versus Google Maps, I think that cartographers most likely did not have malicious intent, but simply did not think that knowing where African-Americans lived would be important to students or townspeople. Historically, it was not until the first African student was enrolled that the allocation of property and advancement in property development really began increasing in Davidson, and so before then, there was no need to include this population in the mind of the cartographers. On a larger scale, when there is American political interest in a place, this trickles down to civilians who then may want to visualize the place. As Seth Long stated in his “Digital Maps and Social Data” article, “What gets deflected in cartographic practice is often the economic, social, and political realities on the ground, and these are important elements of a space,” (Long, 1). By not showing where African Americans lived in Davidson which was in close proximity in “Bradley’s Alley” behind Main Street, the viewer has no way of inferring how they were living which was without plumbing, proper heating, or any security, in the peripheries of everyday life in Davidson. I am not arguing that selectivity in map making is good, however, I am saying that selectivity in maps makes sense. Maps reflect a larger cultural, political and historical context and because cartographers cannot include everything, what they will include will be what is cultural, politically and historically important to their audience.



Space and Place

Space and place have been evaluated in academia from multiple perspectives. In Wither’s “Place in Geography”, several approaches to place are explored including the humanistic approach which was supported by geographer Yi-Fu Tuan. The humanistic approach claims that space is action and movement whereas place is stopping, resting and becoming. This is to say that space is dynamic but place is individually focused. For the sake of my research, I have to side more with the later trends in understanding space and place which state that place is conscience of social power, meaning it is more than the individual but the context of the world around them that creates place (Withers 642). John Agnew in his chapter “Space and Place”, offers multiple examinations of space and place that range from behavioral ideas (space gets its place through the behaviors of the individuals) to historic ideas (space gets place through a collective history). In the town of Davidson I think that place was created by the collective history of the South as a region. When looking at the history of racial relations in the South, there were places that Black people were not allowed to be in said spaces and places where the sense of belonging or place was different for Black versus White residents. An example would be Main Street Davidson- where Black residents lived behind but were not allowed to partake in. They may have a space on the street but they did not have any place (of course, this only works under the definition of ‘place’ meaning ‘sense of belonging). Agnew argues that place is not bounded (Agnew, 24) which again applies to the residents of Davidson who may not have been welcomed passed Main Street on the college campus either. In these understandings I find it hard to use the “humanistic approach” to place because there were collective experiences experienced by humans of the same race or physicality. Their lack of sense of belonging was not specialized, but instead, applied to their counterparts across the American South. I think that place can be influenced by the human (ie a Black barber at Rayford’s may have more sense of belonging than the rest of the community due to his title) but ultimately, the larger, more common application of place in space is that it is first determined by social power.


Each of these themes are connected to my project by the idea of interactive maps being able to tell more of the story. The story being that there were Black communities in Davidson even though they were not always represented on maps.



Agnew, John. “Space and place.” The SAGE handbook of geographical knowledge (2011): 316-330.


Dodge, M. and Kitchin, R. (2000), Exposing the ‘Second Text’ of Maps of the Net. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 5: 0. doi: 10.1111/j.1083-6101.2000.tb00350.x


Farman, Jason, and Dene Grigar. The Mobile Story: Narrative Practices with Locative Technologies. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Web.


Knoerl, John J. “Mapping history using geographic information systems.” The Public Historian (1991): 97-108.


Long, Seth. “Digital Maps and Social Data.” N.p., 11 Mar. 2013. Web. 21 Nov. 2014.


Nowviskie, Bethany. “Neatline and Visualization as Interpretation.” MediaCommons. N.p., 10 Feb. 2014. Web. 21 Nov. 2014

Nowviskie, Bethany. “Neatline and Visualization as Interpretation.” MediaCommons. N.p., 10 Feb. 2014. Web. 21 Nov. 2014.

Ramsey, Stephen. “Developing Things: Notes toward an Epistemology of Building in the Digital Humanities.” Debates in the Digital Humanities. Ed. Geoffrey Rockwell. N.p.: U of Minnesota, n.d. N. pag. Print.

Withers, Charles WJ. “Place and the” Spatial Turn” in Geography and in History.” Journal of the History of Ideas 70.4 (2009): 637-658.

Simplicity of Form

One of the biggest challenges that Digital Studies as a whole faces is how abstract and complex its fundamental products are. There is often a high threshold for complexity leaving many creators and users confused because they lack specific knowledge of the particular processes of the Digital Studies. In the realm of Digital Mapping, the various coordinate systems, terms, and file types prevent creators from going as far beyond traditional mapping ideas as they could and keeps the layman away from using the products, as only those immersed in the study of Digital Mapping can understand the scope of the complexity of some of the projects. They may be able to see the big picture, but unlike text files or images, very few understand the mechanics of the processes. With the Digital Map App of Davidson College, I hope to create a simple linking of the ideas of geospatial data that serves as both a practical tool for navigation as well as a simple example of how geospatial data can be approached by an average user.

Stephen Ramsay and Rockwell’s “Developing Things: Notes toward an Epistemology of Building in the Digital Humanities” offers a clear and concise summation of the general issues surrounding digital studies as a whole. Ramsay and Rockwell argue that the abstract nature of Digital Studies as a whole has left many within the community questioning and arguing about what the definition is. This is in part due to the wide range of complex ideas that are a part of different segments of the Digital Humanities, how “but their work is all about XML, XSLT, GIS, R, CSS, and C” (Ramsay, Rockwell). While many average users of computers understand how text can be bolded or italicized and at least know that JPEG and PNG files refer to images, for most people the aforementioned file types are simply gibberish. In addition, in Ramsay and Rockwell’s discussion, there is no uniformity in the use of these file types across even the subsections of the Digital Humanities. Not every map is made with GIS, and not every program is run by C. This complexity is part of why it seems Ramsay and Rockwell have left out discussion of the Digital Humanities for the common man, the only noticeable omission in the article. While I would have liked the discussion there, if the Digital Humanities departments cannot define themselves, then it would be difficult for a layman to have any idea where to start.

There are many attempts to explain the concept of geospatial data, a important concept to the subject of digital mapping, to the layman with mixed results. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) attempts to define geospatial data for those wishing to keep records, but their definitions and procedure reveal the outdated approaches that those working outside the Digital Humanities often take, whether out of ease or necessity. While offering advice on how to store records, the EPA states that “Geospatial data records are often in special formats (e.g., oversized paper maps or data sets). Therefore, it is especially important to identify the geospatial data records with appropriate metadata, so the records can be easily accessed and retrieved with other, related records” (Environmental Protection Agency, Frequent Questions about Geospatial Data and Records). Rather than believe the EPA is ignorant to the more condensed ways of storing geospatial data, it rather seems that they must suggest less compact ways of storing data by the virtue that they are simpler for the user in the face of the overwhelming complexity that shapefiles and raster layers may bring to the uninitiated record keeper. While the FAQ may not be a good robust description of the idea of geospatial data, it must limit itself to inefficient simplicity in order to explain itself to users.

However, even without the need to focus on practical applications like record keeping, the definition of geospatial data can remain elusive. Even the handbook of geospatial data, a “user manual” for those who are trying to understand geospatial servers, must resort to relating text and webpages into its language in order to convey just what geospatial data is. While the guide book makes the claim that “Soon a search for spatial data will be as easy as a Google search for a web page (OpenPlans, GeoServer 2.6.x User Manual) they also bring up “browser” based systems and offer very few concrete examples that truly explain what geospatial data is supposed to be. The handbook tries to argue that geospatial data is fundamentally different from other types of data, yet only describes it using comparisons.

However, to understand geospatial data one only needs to look as far as the concept of spaces and places in people minds, commonly referred to as a “mental map.” Ozkul and Gauntlett’s  “Locative Media in the City: Drawing Maps and Telling Stories” in Mobile Stories, serves as both an easy to comprehend discussion of what mental maps are as well as how people view geospatial data within their own minds. In their study, users were asked to “draw a map of London showing ‘frequently visited places’” (Ozkul Gauntlett 114). What surfaced did not take the form of raster layers, CSS code, or shapefiles placed by a complex coordinate system. Rather, people drew pictures and words in order to explain how geospatial data related to the real world. They also discussed concepts outloud that described how they viewed geospatial data, though they might not have personally called their ideas as such (114). This thorough discussion highlights one of the key difficulties that surrounds the abstract nature of many discussions on digital humanities. Text, pictures, and other common forms of data are not separate entities from geospatial data but rather simply another lense with which to view the various types of data that make up the world as a whole.

Data is not nearly as sectioned off into buckets of categories with no overlap as those who are obsessed with the quantitative over the qualitative might want you to think. Images like photographs can easily contain text, from a photo of a book to a simple captioned image. Text can be used to create images such as ASCII[1] art or emoticons[2]. The tools we use to create these are the same at their base as well. Webpages are made up of pixels which create both text and images, all of which are founded in the same code. There are different tools that produce similar results, but it is not the intrinsic makeup of these types of data that defines what they are but rather how we as people choose to interpret them. Likewise, geospatial data doesn’t need to be made up of completely different types of components from webpages or any other medium. What geospatial data does is combine the same elements that we use daily to produce other types of data in a way that people interpret as having to do with the space and place around them. This simplicity is something I hope to achieve with the Davidson Mapping App I am creating with the MIT aiAppInventor software[3].

Rather than trying to keep a purity of only geospatial data, the Davidson Mapping App attempts to look at text and image data through a geospatial lense. The current Davidson map[4] uses shapes and symbols as primary indicators of space, yet often that is confusing since people don’t tend to think in terms of those particular symbols but rather in terms of descriptions and mental pictures (Ozkul, Gauntlett). Therefore, the Mapping App adds textual descriptions and identifiable images to the available data to give users the best sense of where these spaces are, what they look like, and what they contain. Practically speaking, the text gives the buildings a sense of what they are commonly used for and the specific areas inside them, such as Hance Auditorium on the fourth floor of Chambers, which according to several Davidson students, was a very difficult place to locate the first time. The images help give the users’ mental maps a better foundation than the symbols; rather than simplistic shapefiles to go off of, users can have an image of the building or space in their minds that matches up very closely to what they will see when they approach the space. However, the app serves a purpose in getting users familiar with geospatial data itself as well.

MIT’s aiAppInventor is a program built around simplicity and therefore is a perfect medium to try to convey geospatial data in a clear and simple manner. The apps are programmed using predetermined blocks of code, which keeps the interface simple for both creators and users. While at first this design may seem limiting, it helps to streamline the application of use. One cannot incorporate GIS files or Excel data spreadsheets into this tool. Therefore, the cartographer and the layman are on common ground and data does not need to be translated from a complicated form back into simplistic terms. The app inventor does not work well for complicated projects, but is a great tool for understanding basic components of data and for presenting those components to a user.

In order to get definition at the higher levels of digital studies, we must first people to explain ourselves on simple terms to the average person. While there will always be an important place for discussion at the higher level of the subject, it’s important to make the Digital Humanities to be as accessible as possible for the common person as basic math, science, language or art is. Tools that appeal to our interpretation of geospatial data rather than the semantics about it will help us better understand what the essence of Digital Mapping within the Digital Humanities really is.

[1] ASCII art is made up of pictures using only the 128 characters from  American Standard Code for Information Interchange.

[2] Emoticons use the characters on a keyboard to denote certain facial expressions or emotions.




Didem Ozkul and David Gauntlett. “Locative Media in the City: Drawing Maps and Telling Stories” in Mobile Stories

“Frequent Questions: Records Management.” U.S Environmental Protection Agency. August 3, 2012. Accessed November 20, 2014.

Stephen Ramsay and Geoffrey Rockwell.  “Developing Things: Notes Towards an Epistemology of Building in the Digital Humanities” in Debates in the Digital Humanities

OpenPlans, 2014 GeoServer 2.6.x User Manual, accessed November 20, 2014,

Literature Review: Define the Person, See the Map

A map is something that people used to associate with strictly geography, landmarks, and location. Now, maps have uses such as telling stories, building communities, and documenting significance. No longer are maps just geographical devices; people have their own sense of maps, which include emotion, memory, necessity, etc…all on top of the traditional sense of location. My project, Define the Person, See the Map, takes maps of Davidson College, information provided from different types of students, and ideas/concepts introduced by authors, which all combined together, forms a visual of the ideal map of campus for a certain type of student. My project will answer the question: If students at Davidson College had to create their own map of campus, how would they view/create it?

The core of my idea comes from the concepts of mental maps and sketch maps, which Didem Ozkul and David Gauntlett bring up in “Locative Media in the City: Drawing Maps and Telling Stories”.  The introduction of mental maps to digital mapping has opened up a door leading to new ways to understanding space.  Ozkul and Gauntlett deem cognitive (mental) maps as something that includes “both a broad sense of its geographic features, as well as memories, emotions, and other associations” (Ozkul & Gauntlett, 115).  They go on to say that cognitive maps can’t be directly transferred to paper (115), which is something that my project plans to do: from mind to paper to digital exhibit.  What they do say though, is that a sketch map is an attempt to view a person’s mental map by having them draw a place in order to provoke their spatial emotions associated with that place (118).  I am essentially mapping the mental/sketch maps of different types of Davidson College students with my project.  However, Ozkul and Gauntlett mention that “geographical accuracy is not a significant concern in cognitive mapping” (118). They say this in response to the fact that one individual will think about a certain space differently than another individual, therefore their mental maps and sketch maps will be different and inaccurate from one another. In order to drive a message across to the user of the exhibit, I need geographical accuracy, which will be achieved by using the same base map for each portion of the exhibit denoting the type of student.

Less recently, but still on the topic of mental maps, in 2001, Katriina Soini analyzed the traditional uses of mental maps. Her argument supports what I am trying to do with mental maps in my project even though I’m using them in a less traditional way. She writes that “Mental mapping has traditionally been used in order to explore spatial cognition” (Soini, 229), and she goes on to say that “mental maps have also been analyzed as indications of individual’s spatial preferences, the significance of and attachment to a place” (229). Both the spatial cognition and preference of a place can arise out of necessity associated with that place. An individual’s necessity for a certain place or space derives from that individual’s agenda, which is born variables that define that person; for example, their occupation or age. So, based off of spatial preference, my project focuses on spatial necessity.

Another ability of maps that my project will achieve is story telling.  Viewing the maps will not only teach people about the students and the campus, but it will provide a narrative of what is happening throughout the day. The viewer of a map can only follow the story if he/she understands the language that the map is speaking.  Soini’s argument about mental maps can apply to story telling as well; she writes that mental maps allow people to be able to converse about spatial information (228).  With my project, the viewer will better be able to understand the story that I am conveying if he/she also has a mental map of the college campus; it is a two-way street.  The paths that a student takes on campus will provide details to the story just effectivley as the buildings that the student visits; Lone Koefoed Hansen in “Paths of Movement: Negotiation Spatial Narratives Through GPS Tracking” discusses that narratives come from a combination of daily routine and geography.  Hansen’s chapter encompasses use with space; she uses the term psychogeography, a term from the 1960s that “maps space as it is felt and used by those that inhabit it” (Hansen, 129).   She cites Esther Polak’s NomadicMILK project from 2009, which shows the paths that herdsmen took while working the fields. These simple lines hold within them complex narratives; she found that “When they see their movements replayed in the sand drawings, both herdsmen and truck drives begin telling the stories of their movements in and intertwining with locations through which they navigate” (139).  Polak’s art/map project provides evidence for the ability to visualize a story, and in fact, the visualization can provoke a story that poeple may not have recognized when traveling the path in their daily lives; this is something that my project has the power to do.

In my project, the narrative comes to the viewer via clicking through the exhibit; the screen itself is moving from location to location on the map, but it might as well be the actual student moving around campus throughout the course of the day. In Charles Cumming’s “The 21 Steps”, he successfully simulated a person traveling across the world by having the view jump from different locations on a map. His mapping project is geared strictly to telling a story that includes details in a different way than a book; it shows exactly where the character goes instead of saying that he has gone from point A to point B.  Showing these details allows the viewer to know more about the movement of the character. For my project, I want the viewer to know how the student is moving, otherwise, the viewer may deem it unimportant if I don’t include that information.

Define the Person, See the Map, my project, which is a Neatline exhibit, will allow viewers to explore 16 different maps complete with descriptions of the 16 types of Davidson College students that I have defined. It will complement as well as branch off from the literature that I have reviewed. This literature provides support for my initial project idea as well as what my project can show the viewer. In a combination of Ozkul/Gauntlett and Soini, mental maps were significant to me on three fronts. First, they are what inspired me to pursue this project. Everyone’s mental maps are different as Ozkul and Gauntlett explained leading to different mental maps of the same place. I wanted to create a summed mental map of the campus, so that there would be a single map that could reveal facts about the college’s spatial information. However, I couldn’t ‘break’ mental maps to such a degree, which leads me to the second point of significance of mental maps: they are my data. Instead of creating a universal mental map of campus, I would create maps based off of the mental maps of different types of students, which actually would create a better argument than just one map. The similarities and differences between these maps would inform the viewer how the campus is used by students with different agendas and responsibilities. Third, while someone who has never been to campus could have an understanding of my project, I am relying heavily on the viewer’s own mental map, which Soini explained helps people converse about location, of campus in order to understand my argument: who you are affects where you go and why you go there.  In understanding my argument, the viewer will be able to follow the narrative.  Just showing buildings along with the description of what a student may be in that building contains a narrative on its own, however, by including the paths that the student takes from building to building, I am able to add uniqueness to each map. Space in between place is something that should not be neglected, and Hansen as well as Polak showed that movement has an extreme mental process behind it, so by explaining this process in the descriptions in Neatline, I form a whole other narrative that will educate the viewer about the students on campus. Viewers will be able to see and understand the ideal maps of students who have different lives, yet live on the same campus.


Cumming, Charles. “The 21 Steps.” 2008.

Hansen, Lone Koefoed “Paths of Movement: Negotiation Spatial Narratives Through GPS Tracking.” Mobile Stories: Narrative Practices with Locative Technologies. New York: Routledge, 2014. 128-142. 20 Nov.  2014.

Ozkul, Didem and Gauntlett, David. “Locative Media in the City: Drawing Maps and Telling Stories.” Mobile Stories: Narrative Practices with Locative Technologies. New York: Routledge, 2014. 113-127. 20 Nov.  2014.

Polak, Esther. “NomadicMilk.” 2009.

Soini, Katriina. “Exploring human dimensions of multifunctional landscapes through mapping and map-making.” Landscape and Urban Planning (2001): 225–239. 20 Nov.  2014.


Serving Up GeoServer

First, what does GeoServer do? GeoServer is a tool that links geospatial data with user interfaces. The analogy of Geoserver as a bartender that serves and mixes the things that the user has stored on the shelves of the bar is an accurate depiction of how the server grabs georeferenced images and imports them into exhibits like Neatline. However, just as those who have never mixed drinks before might find it hard to achieve a good blend, those who do not have background in computers may find GeoServer an inaccessible tool. Below is a graphic that explains more and is hyperlinked to detailed instructions on using GeoServer:

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 11.16.51 PM

Second, how do you use GeoServer? A vector file converted to a GeoTIFF can be uploaded to the online server and then accessed through the server and inserted as a layer into a mapping application. The benefit of this process is that vector files can be converted into vector data or styled maps.

Similar to Jeff McClurken who suggests in his article about Omeka that using the tool may be overkill for simple projects, GeoServer is a technology-heavy tool that might not be appropriate for all projects. However, for projects that require a large amount of data like the thick mapping in HyperCities or projects that require more styling, GeoServer may be a good option.

In conclusion, for those who are adept at computers or are certain that their project would benefit from GeoServer, enjoy the full selection at the bar. For those who are less certain, however, perhaps, instead of a bartender that can only serve a few select drinks if properly asked, it would be better to have a website that functioned as a butler and assisted the user more in achieving the goals of their project.

Theory of the Project

When looking at a map, the following questions arise: What subjectivity is the author of the map bringing to the picture? What (or who) is included or excluded from the map? How can you make a map that is totally inclusive? In my project, Memory Box, I attempt to create a map that highlights how individuals personalize the space around them with memories or traditions by deconstructing the components of a mental map and presenting just the subjective memories on which these maps are based. Through this project, I aim to engage with theory about inclusive methods of map-making and to place my project among other mental mapping projects.

In this literature review, I will first explain the inherent subjectivity of maps, and, second, discuss how personal experiences impact locative thinking with a method called mental mapping. Third, I will explore how to imbue digital maps with more personal connections and, fourth, detail how my project, Memory Box, combines elements of mental mapping and presents it on a digital platform.

Subjective Maps in a Digital and Non-digital Age

Looking at the world from Google Earth is a seemingly objective view of reality; however, as argued by Jason Farman in “Mapping the Digital Empire: Google Earth and the Process of Postmodern Cartography,” Google must skew the picture of the earth using a projection, such as the Western-centric Mercator projection, and introduce a level of subjectivity into the landscape (878). Thus, even in the digital age where many users have access to and partial authorship of maps, the “democratization” of maps is not complete and, instead, digital maps have become an empire dominated by Google and those with access to the internet (871). Thus, although Farman writes that digital media users can “define” and “inhabit” space as “embodied interactors,” digital maps contain as much subjectivity and are as exclusive as the drawn maps that were their predecessors (885). The innate subjectivity of all maps is reiterated by many scholars, such as sustainability researcher, Katriini Soini, who argues that maps are a way for humans to conceptualize and present their view of the world. She writes, “Mapping is a very old method of constructing and conceptualizing the world. Humans have prepared maps for various purposes for thousands of years. In the earlier times, maps were regarded as abstractions of the world or reality, but, nowadays, they are viewed as means of communication and intermediating values and power” (237). Thus, even in an era where gathering and displaying the information on maps has been improved by technology, the inherent subjectivity of maps pervades.

Showing and Studying Subjectivity Through Mental Maps

Understanding that maps are not a complete representation of the truth leads to an examination of how to convey the spots on a map that are ambiguous or subjective and how to assess the impacts of subjective mapping. For example, in the smell maps of Kate McLean, a professor of Information Experience Design, uncertainty is conveyed through rings of circles that are essentially statistical confidence intervals centered on the true location of a smell. In addition to ambiguity, I think that showing the subjectivity of maps is important, especially since it is a part of all maps. One of the more interesting ways of showing subjectivity is through mental mapping, which is a methodology that seeks to understand how individuals conceptualize and interact with the space they inhabit.

The term mental mapping encompasses a variety of methods including hand-drawn drawings of places and habitual pathways, maps with color coding or symbols inserted onto them in order to convey an individual’s experience or emotions about a place, and even concept maps that helps to organize information and assist with learning. As defined by cultural geographer, J.J. Gieseking, mental mapping is, “A lens into the way people produce and experience space, forms of spatial intelligence, and dynamics of human–environment relations ranging from the minute experiences of everyday life to larger structural oppressions (Gieseking 712). In “Exploring the human dimensions of multifunctional landscapes through mapping and map-making,” Soini discusses how mental mapping is used in various fields, such as humanistic and cultural geography and behavioralism. In these fields, researchers analyze maps in order to see how people organize geographic information in their minds, prioritize certain locations because of familiarity or attachment to those places, link places to the emotions they arouse, and derive the social order of a location and their place within that order. The focus of this article is primarily how mental maps are used to conduct research about the social and psychological experiences of humans.

In her article, “Where We Go From Here: The Mental Sketch Mapping Method and Its Analytic Components,” Jack Jen Gieseking, analyzes the mental maps of the alumnae of an all girls school using the steps laid out in the seminal work on mental mapping, Image of a City, which are as follows: (1) asking what first came to mind in terms of the image of the space; (2) requesting that an individual draw a map of the space; and (3) asking for his or her detailed movements on an average day (715). She then analyzes the resulting maps by comparing metrics of the three components: Mechanics of Method, which is how accurately does the individual draw reality; Drawing Elements, which includes the nodes, edges and landmarks the drawers inserts; Narratives of Place, how to the drawn elements contribute the authors’ self of sense and sense of the place; and Personal, which is a category focused on the most personal experience of the individual (716). The focus of this study was to give structure to how individual mental maps are interpreted and compared, and to provide a blueprint for analysis in other research.

Mental Maps and Social Media

Mental maps show how people’s brains connect things, places, and memories in a geographic way and how locations contain meaning, but translating mental maps onto a digital format is difficult, especially given that platforms for digital maps (such as Google Maps) lack details about the ordinary regions that individuals primarily inhabit. To reiterate Farman’s argument, not only are maps, including Google Earth, subjective, they are also exclusive in terms of who has access to making them and what areas are shown in detail on the map. For example, StreetView and other details are provided for Davidson College, but not for Chennai, one of the major cities in India–this not only reveals that Google priorities North Carolina over Tamil Nadu, but also it limits where geographical information can be inserted. Not only are digital maps incomplete in terms of what locations are included, but also geosocial media is limited in what places can be shared.

According to Mark Sample, a professor of digital studies, location in and of itself is not interesting, but geosocial media can be used to imbue locations with meaning. He writes, “Maps convey a limited range of geographic experiences: distance, elevation, vegetation, rivers, and buildings. But maps fail to convey the meaning of these geographic elements, how they impact both the broad history of a place and the daily life of the people who live there” (Sample 73). While the aforementioned mental mapping projects are one method of imbuing the meaning that Sample argues maps lack, his article focuses on how geosocial media is also a tool for giving places meaning in a digital world. Similarly, in her article “Pinterest for Public History,” Michelle Morvac, a professor of history, encourages historical societies to use a form of geosocial media, Pinterest, as a tool to enrich and publicize exhibits. In a similar vein, UNESCO World Heritage Sites uses Pinterest to create maps of Heritage sites throughout the world, including the UK, France, and Italy. Using the popular social media, Pinterest, historical societies and individuals can include geographic information in their posts, but, as Sample argues, the locational information that can be included on most geoscial media is mainstream and not important. In his article “Location is Not Compelling (Until it is Haunted),” Sample argues that social media only allows users to mark certain places that use geosocial media as advertisement instead of the nether regions that are off grid but more a part of our daily lives. This is also the limitation of Pinterest Maps, which only allows users to mark well-known places, such as restaurants, instead of areas that may be of more interest. For example, in this Pinterest Map of Davidson, the restaurant Toast and coffee shop Summit Coffee could be pinned because they are listed on Foursquare, but specific buildings on campus cannot that are the stage of campus activity cannot be pinned. In order to make spaces more meaningful, geosocial media should be used to mark the nether places, such as sidewalks or parking lots that make up the majority of our day instead of using it to mark the typical locations of bars or restaurants. This provides a more meaningful map as well as one that is more inclusive.

Memory Box

For my project, I will gather specific locational memories from current Davidson students and alumnae and create an online mapping exhibit featuring these memories. This project takes the process of mental mapping and deconstructs it. Instead of letting users show the relative importance of certain areas by including these places on the map or drawing them larger than other places or before other locations as in Gieseking and Soini’s projects, I am condensing each individual’s contribution to the map to only a quote or memory about a place on Davidson College’s campus. Soini argues that how people feel about places is a critical component of mental maps; however, she also argues that mental, or cognitive, maps show “relationships between these concepts” and “represent links between ideas” (227; 232). Instead of tracing a daily pathway like most mental maps, my project draws exclusively on the emotional side of mapping. Thus, my map does not have the links between multiple locations that create a holistic depiction of an individual’s understanding of a place as with mental mapping, but rather, similar to the geosocial media as mentioned by Sample or represented by Pinterest, my maps focus on specific locations and memories. However, unlike the limiting social media, I will include locations, such as second floor library carrels or the tree in the middle of Patterson Court, that are off-grid yet comprise important memories for students. By expanding the scope of map layout, and also by including a wide range of student input, I will create a format for a more inclusive map that creates a “truer” picture of Davidson College. While my methodology aims to extract the what places have most meaning for people, I may find, like Gieseking, that many people included places that lack deeper personal meaning, but may have some cultural or social meaning. For example, in her study, people included the off-campus stables on their map even though they had never visited (172). Similarly, people at Davidson College may include universal memories, such as studying in the library or union. According to Gieseking, the outcome and usefulness of research using mental maps is to inform policy makers about the relationships people have with the elements of a physical place, which can lead to better planning for areas or reveal spatial segregation and inequalities (713). The final outcome of my project may to be to critical think about the changes around campus and how the smaller, out-of-the-way locations on campus contribute to student’s overall experience.


Farman, Jason. “Mapping the Digital Empire: Google Earth and the Process of Postmodern Cartography.” New Media and Society (2010): 869-888. Web. 20 Nov. 2014.

Gieseking, J.J. “Where We Go From Here: The Spatial Mental Mapping Method and Its Analytic Components for Social Science Data Gathering.” Qualitative Inquiry (2013): 712-724. Web. 20 Nov. 2014.

Moravec, Michelle. “Pinterest for Public History.” The Mid-AtlanticRegional Center for the Humanities. Web. 20 Nov. 2014.

Sample, Mark. “Location is Not Compelling (Until it is Haunted).” Mobile Stories: Narrative Practices with Locative Technologies. New York: Routledge, 2014. 68-78. Web. 20 Nov.  2014.

Soini, Katriina. “Exploring human dimensions of multifunctional landscapes through mapping       and map-making.” Landscape and Urban Planning (2001): 225–239. Web. 20 Nov.  2014.


Literature Review

Literature Review

The purpose of this project is to develop a digitized environmental history of Davidson College. This project expands on a senior environmental capstone project that combines aerial photography, remotely sensed data, historical maps, and oral histories to map environmental changes throughout Davidson College’s history. The previous project created a series of maps using ArcMap 10.1 united with a rich historical narrative and timeline to analyze Davidson College’s environment history. While the capstone is comprehensive, its presentation as a manuscript is not sufficient for presenting various maps, timelines, narratives, and images as a cohesive unit. By presenting the above material as a digital Neatline exhibit, this project allows for interactivity and inclusivity throughout the web. Many authors have demonstrated the importance of developing environmental histories, the significance of the college campus in an environmental history context, and the importance of mapping; however, only recently has digital mapping emerged as a reputable discipline. As times have progressed into a digital age, the ways in which authors address and present environmental history problems should continuously develop.

The discipline of environmental history is well recognized and accepted as an area of study. Noted environmentalists such as Henry David Thoreau, Aldo Leopold, and Rachel Carson promoted a moral and political agenda towards the environment, establishing a base for future environmental scholarship. More recently, Donald Hughes (2006) defined environmental history as “history that seeks understanding of human beings as they have lived, worked and thought in relationship to the rest of nature through the changes brought by time”(Hughes, 2006). Although the discipline has evolved to include “ecohistories”, “historical geographies” and “ethnographies of landscape”, environmental historians today agree that the environmental history of a place should be examined in conversation with anthropogenic developments.

Only recently have the college town and campus emerged as focuses for scholarship and, even more recently, as a focus for environmental history studies. The importance of the college campus as a significant entity emerged when Gaines (1991) described the college campus as a work of art. His book was one of the first to stray away from the valuations of merit and scholarship, and ranks colleges based on urban space, architectural quality, landscape, and overall appeal. Moreover, authors such as Gumprecht (2007) have examined the historical environmental and social importance of the college campus. Gumprecht (2007) highlighted the needed balance between aesthetics, academics, and development in a particular college’s history, and provided a useful case study that situated the college campus in an environmental history context. Gumprecht’s work highlights the importance of the physical campus as a symbol central to the identity of the college, town, and even state.

Environmental historians focus on various sub disciplines, including geography, when reconstructing historical narratives. In many cases historical geography and the theories of several dimensions of space, provide substance to environmental history narratives. Additionally, authors have adopted the idea of social space or constructed space as a way of critically understanding the surrounding physical environment. The idea of constructed space originated in Lefebvre’s (1991) work The production of space, where he presented different levels of space from abstract space, to natural space, to a more complex social space. Without getting lost in philosophical jargon, it is important to note the significance of Lefebvre’s argument. Social space as a social product gives subjectivity to geography. Lefebvre addressed the argument that space is natural and socially constructed, which highlighted the idea that maps are never completely objective. Lefebvre’s work also highlights the uniqueness of individual spaces, such as Davidson College, with histories that are formed by a combination of physical and social interactions.

Expanding on Lefebvre’s call for understanding socially constructed and physical spaces, existing literature demonstrates the importance of mapping as a form of scholarship. In two of his books chapters, Monmonier (1993) demonstrates the importance of cartographic symbols as a form of analysis. He argues that maps are a “scaled down version of reality”; therefore, various symbols and scales demonstrate different arguments of the cartographer. While Monmonier examines specific symbols and scale levels, his text demonstrates the overall subjectivity of mapping and the importance of the cartographer’s decision making in constructing a narrative. Monmonier demonstrates how maps can be used to create certain arguments of spaces, and are useful when examining human-environment interactions. Moretti (2005) applies the importance of mapping to literary history and argues that mapping literature allows for a different level of understanding about the text. For example, he discovers a circular pattern of geography when he maps out Mary Mitfords, Our Village, and suggests that “when you map out the book, everything changes” (37). Although Moretti’s (2005) arguments examine literature, his concepts can be applied to historical narratives. When one maps out the history of a place, the past may be seen in a different light.

Conversations surrounding the physical and social construction of space have intrigued scholars, but these arguments were not accessible to the public until digital studies emerged as a reputable discipline. In her article, Fitzpatrick (2012) defines digital humanities as ““a nexus of fields within which scholars use computing technologies to investigate the kinds of questions that are traditional to the humanities, or, as is more true of my own work, ask traditional kinds of humanities-oriented questions about computing technologies.” Adopting Fitzpatrick’s first definition, this project attempts to transform a humanities study into an interactive digital exhibit. Expanding on Fitzpatrick call for the essentiality of digital studies, digital studies allow for public consumption of scholarly work.

Other authors address the importance of digitizing maps and argue that digital projects allow for public availability, and for varying levels of argument nonexistent in paper maps. In their book, Hypercities: thick mapping in the digital humanities, Presner et al (2014) develop the term “thick mapping” to describe the processes of “collecting, aggregating, and visualizing ever more layers of geographic or place specific data” (Presner et. al 17). Thick mapping, as Presner et al (2014) define it, can be easily achieved digitally. In his article, Long (2013) argues that digital maps such as google maps can return many elements to the map, including social, political, economic, climatological, biologic, and many other elements.” Although my project does not use google maps, Long highlights the general interactive nature of digital maps, which allows for a combination of spatial and non-spatial data. Additionally, Long (2013) addresses the importance of layers in digital maps as they allow for the “mashing up of non-spatial data on digital mapping interfaces in order to bring together multiple pieces of situated knowledge about and to get diverse perspectives on a particular space” (Long). By combining the arguments presented by Presner et al. (2012) and Long (2013), this project attempts to digitally combine spatial and non-spatial data of Davidson College’s rich environmental history.

The last requirement of this project is that it be interactive. In his interview with the Onion, Douglas Adams highlights the importance of interactivity of digital humanities and argues “putting in the extra element of interactivity should just add to the possibilities” of any text. Charles Cumming demonstrates the usefulness of interactivity in his digital novel, 21 steps ( In this interactive story, the reader follows the characters on a geographical journey that combines spatial and non-spatial data that connects the reader to the story world.

Considering the importance of interactivity, this project employs the Neatline plugin for Omeka to create an interactive historical archive complete with a narrative, archived photos and ArcMap maps. Ramsey and Rockwell (2012) present the argument that digital tools and the act of digital construction are scholarship themselves, regardless of the thing that is being presented. In conversation with Ramsey and Rockwell (2012), it is important to select the correct tool when developing a digital project. Nowviskie demonstrates the usefulness of Neatline by arguing “It’s a geotemporal exhibit-builder that allows you to create beautiful, complex maps, image annotations, and narrative sequences from collections of documents and artifacts, and to connect your maps and narratives with timelines that are more-than-usually sensitive to ambiguity and nuance” (Nowviskie). As Nowviskie demonstrates, Neatline is capable of combining various forms of media into a unified exhibit – a requirement of my final project. David Mclure, one of the builders of Neatline, declares Neatline is intended for “scholars who want to use maps and timelines to tell stories and make arguments about their subject” ( In the same article, Andrew Staffer values how “Neatline will allow [him] to layer historical maps”, and is impressed by the “power of Neatline as a framework for integrating spatial analysis into humanities scholarship.”. Considering these critiques and the requirements of my project, Neatline proved to be an appropriate tool for presentation.

Existing literature demonstrates the importance of constructing environmental histories, the usefulness of mapping as a means for presenting humanities research, and the need for digitizing projects using tools such as Neatline to create interactive and comprehensive exhibits. From Lefebvre’s theory of constructed space to Staffers comments on Neatline, this project adapts various previous frameworks to create a comprehensive environmental history of Davidson College.



Fitzpatrick, K. (2012). The humanities, done digitally. In M. K. Gold (Ed.), Debates in the digital humanities (). Minneapolis: Univ Of Minnesota Press.

Gaines, T. A. (1991). The campus as a work of art. New York: Praeger.

Gumprecht, B. (2007). The campus as a public space in the american college town. Journal of Historical Geography, 33(1), 72-103.

Hughes, J. D. (2006). What is environmental history?. Cambridge: Polity.

Lefebvre, H. (1991). The production of space. Oxford, OX, UK; Cambridge, Mass., USA: Blackwell.

Long, Seth (2013) Digital maps and social data (

Monmonier, M. S. (1993). Mapping it out : Expository cartography for the humanities and social sciences. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Moretti, F. (2005). Graphs, maps, trees : Abstract models for a literary history. London; New York: Verso.

Nowviskie, Bethanie (2014) Neatline and visualization as interpretation( )

Presner, Todd Samuel,, Shepard, David,,Kawano, Yoh,,. (2014). HyperCities : Thick mapping in the digital humanities

RAMSAY, S., & ROCKWELL, G. (2012). Developing things: Notes toward an epistemology of building in the digital humanities. In M. K. Gold (Ed.), Debates in the digital humanities (). Minneapolis: Univ Of Minnesota Press.

Seal, Rob. (2012). Neatline Helps Map New World of Digital Humanities Scholarship. (


Marauder's Map App

Using the online host, MapInventor, I created the structure for a mapping application that roughly recreates the magical map from Harry Potter and presents locational information about users around Davidson College. The idea of this app is to be able to see which study spots are going to be busy and which have availability–a purpose that I feel  would be a useful to have as finals season approaches.


The main page of the app looks like this:

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 8.31.42 PM


Although the app is unfinished, clicking each button would lead the user to a map: one with places you had tagged, one with popular tags, and a general map that shows where other users have checked in.

Using MapInventor to create this is a simplified process, where the complex code of Xcode is remade into graphic blocks that can be pieced together to create an action. For example, clicking “See Your Study Spots” triggers a reaction that can be seen below.

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 10.09.26 PM

Sarah questions in her post whether this kind of activity is a form of scholarship, which I would agree is a reasonable question to ask. However,  I appreciate how this website brings to the complex jargon of coding into a vernacular that allows for wider range of app makers.






Final Project Plan



Week of November 10th

Create survey
Find resources for historical data
Explore formatting on Omeka

Week of November 17th

Send Survey
Gather corresponding resources
Finalize Formatting on Omeka

Week of November 24th

Troubleshooting Omeka
Investigate historical maps
Add layers of maps to Omeka

Week of December 1st

Combine data and maps
Publish all to Omeka
Add finishing touches to website

In my original proposal, I planned on creating an interactive platform where users could enter their own memories of the places at Davidson College. For this interface, the ideal tool would be an Andriod or iPhone app; however, I do no think that making a complex app is a feasible goal for my project. Instead, I am switching the design of project to be more research-based as opposed to user-dependent. For the first few weeks of my project, I will be collecting data on individual memories of places around Davidson campus by sending out a survey to all students and looking through the archives for old quotes or descriptions. Additionally, I will use this time to explore the design elements of Neatline to see what is the best way to present the information and whether a more interactive design is possible. Neatline specializes at presenting historical data so I have decided to capitalize on this capability, and include more historical maps of Davidson in my project and take advantage of this as a way to improve my geo-referencing skills. In general, I will need to build in more time for troubleshooting the problems that arise as I research and build the website.