Paper Digital Humanities Australasia 2018

Mapping Intermedia Maps: Emergent DH Infrastructure From Interdisciplinary Projects (126)

William Pascoe 1
  1. University of Newcastle, Cooks HIll, NSW, Australia

A set of general software requirements has emerged through interdisciplinary interest in digital mapping and other projects at the Centre For 21st Century Humanities, UON. Several DH projects among members initially appeared to have little in common. Over time, as developments in one project informed another, a set of broader shared DH needs emerged. This illustrates the effectiveness of developing infrastructure from projects as a way to bridge the gap between projects without infrastructure and infrastructure without projects. This approach begins by meeting the requirements of specific projects, which ensures usefulness, but also committing to ongoing maintenance and development and re-using development and skills, rather than ceasing the project when funding ends.

In particular, these unexpectedly convergent projects include the EMWRN archive of early modern women’s writing, the colonial frontier massacres map, and endangered languages projects for ELDTA. EMWRN required a visualisation tool for high resolution facsimiles to explore handwriting and marginalia in detail. This lead to investigation of better ways to handle high resolution images and to mark and annotate parts of the text, using the Codex Yuta Tnoho as a case study. Image tiles to handle high resolutions and the ability to mark and annotate images is exactly how web mapping technology works and so can be adapted for image interaction. The Codex Yuta Tnoho also involved linking the manuscript images to a web map. The TextMapText project, emerging from an interdisciplinary interest in mapping, links in both directions, from text to map and map to text. At the same time development was underway linking specific points in audio visual files to specific points in transcriptions and translations and back again. This was followed by a desire to link this to oral maps, linking points in speech to points on a journey marked on a web map. Crucially, we recognise here that ‘maps’ can be instantiated in many media, not just a 2D pictorial surface. Maps can be oral, textual or pictorial. A general requirement emerges – to link to and from points and areas within multimedia, text, image, audio and video to maps. Building on these ways to link within media we can also link simply from media to media generally, for any purpose, demonstrating the broad applicability of developments emerging from idiosyncratic needs. In some ways this is much like the internet, so nothing new, except that the need is to hyperlink among and within complex media.

In maths, a 'map' is a relationship between one set of numbers to another, which is the basis of functions, which are the basis of IT. A cartographic map ‘maps’ symbols and relations to the world. Signifying systems can be understood as ‘maps’. In Humanities, the reason we wish to ‘map’, or link, in these projects is usually to interpret, explain, clarify, critique and build meaning with hermeneutic associations. All these divergent requirements have become a coherent general requirement for ways to connect cartographic place-time maps, texts, images, audio and video – mapping maps to maps.