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To Map or Not to Map?

Tuscany Map

We ended our first week of Digital Humanities for Art History Summer Camp (as many of us are calling it) with a day devoted to mapping and the idea of tracking data on maps. Unfortunately, it was a frustrating day for me. I could not get MapWarp to work (though it was a very odd and strange coincidence that about an hour or so before we started working with it a former colleague, Andy Horbal, wrote to me to tell me about the tool!). I was not very successful with "The Google" mapping hands-on session (can't even find the map I made now) and I had similar problems with the StoryMap (I think I did not note my pings or something). THEN, I could not get my Geolocation plug-in up on my Omeka site. I was not a happy DH Camper.

Sharon, wise Guru DH Instructor and Summer Camp Director that she is, told us all to try to do something else for the weekend and NOT do DH. I listened to her advice (went to see Return of the Planet of the Apes and it was good!). Also went home for the weekend - went on a run. Cleared my head.

I returned to DH Central Hotel for week 2, which starts tomorrow and decided to see if I could get that #$%^& plug=in to load. I DID IT! On my own with notes from the session on Friday.  Feeling pretty good about that.

And...starting to wonder about the the tool (even though I finally got it up there...though I guess other plug-ins and themes and other stuff will go up so it was more the process of doing it that mattered).

Originally I had thought about actually mapping Byzantine influence on Italo-Byzantine painting in the 13th century in Tuscany (see map above; gee Tuscany is big). But I'm not sure that in all cases we know where the panel paintings originated, thus making it difficult to actually "map." I am also concerned about the research as my preliminary reading of the state of the field indicates not a lot is known - specifically - about the movement of people in and out of Byzantium. We know that there was movement. And a boat-load of Byzantine art was plundered from Constantinople in the fourth crusade. But  before I decide on a mapping tool, I will have to think about the field some more, what it is I want to accomplish, and what tools will best make it all happen. That said, learning new digital tools and what you CAN do with them can and often does open new pathways of disciplinary inquiry. My first step is to input the images - I need to find them and load them and make some collections. I think I'm sticking with Omeka (at least for now). And then we'll see where I go from there.

I'm not ruling Mapping out; I just want to think about it a bit more before I bite off that big data issue.

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