Week 11-GIS

It is evident that in all the articles read for this week, that GIS and mapping systems do not stand alone as historical analysis tools but rather as supplements to historical material.  History tour with Google Earth can visualize a war, wide scale migration movements, or other important events.  Engage students by thinking geographically through an interactive map helps critical thinking through exemplifying exactly how big a river is, its difficulty to navigation or other geographical landmarks whose challenges that are ineffectively conveyed on the written page.  The street view feature is probably the closest thing we have to virtual reality, while of course it filters out historical context by providing present day photographs, it still gives us the opportunity to put ourselves in the location and provide a 360 degree view rather than a 2D picture.

GIS provides supplementary map material to integrate with the written work, in the late 1800’s geography and history were separated into two categories and the development of GIS material is working to bring the two together to “reveal historical developments that are otherwise obscure or hidden” (3, Marti-Henneberg).  However, I have one concern about the project outlined in the Marti-Henneberg article. The GIS project that they had put together for that issue seemingly is confirming what historians have written about for years predating the study.  While the approach is interesting, exciting and new, it doesn’t necessarily advance historical debate by re-affirming that the railroad’s expansion was followed by massive migration patterns.  To me, the rise of new forms of transportation affecting the population and movement patterns are common sense.  But, I suppose  in what could be an odd contradiction of myself, the project does serve to exemplify an effective historical question approached by GIS and to showcase its abilities to connect temporal and spatial information.

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2 Responses to Week 11-GIS

  1. Pam Mack says:

    So as historical GIS advances, will it be a tool to learn new things or already communicate what we already know? I think the idea of being able to move back and forth between large and small scale is interesting.

  2. pamsc says:

    Is the early stage of any many kinds of research confirming common sense, or is it that we have enough intuitive grasp that the need for more depth is limited?

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