Tag Archives: SteveRomalewski

Travelogue team journal post #2

Travelogue group members
Sarah – Project Manager
Amy – Technology and Design
Melanie – Outreach and Communication
Evonne – Research
Adam – Technology and Design

Monday, February 24th

Since the last class meeting, the Travelogue team has decided to focus on two American authors, Zora Neale Hurston and Ernest Hemingway.

Amy has created the Travelogue Commons site, which includes photos of the two chosen authors, the Travelogue logo, Twitter button, contact form (including a Travelogue gmail account) and a bio page featuring photos of the Travelogue team members.  Each team member has been working on a short bio and those will be posted soon.  The Travelogue email includes a signature with the team’s Twitter handle.

Evonne has created a research plan for the project and added it to the Travelogue Google Drive folder.  She also created a Zotero folder for the project, as to track resources and references. Evonne will cross post the resources and references in the Google Drive folders for each author.

Adam has updated the Travelogue logo that can now be seen on the Commons site and soon on the Twitter page.  He has continued to research Omeka+Neatline.  Adam is exploring HTML, CSS and other resources that will be helpful once a mapping platform has been chosen for the project.

Sarah has organized a consultation meeting for the team with Steven Romalewski.  The goal is to decide on a mapping platform that fits the Travelogue project scope.  Sarah has also provided the team with a list of “action items” and organized a schedule of weekly check-ins for the team.

In thinking about Travelogue as a pedagogical tool, but also an accessible resource for those outside of an academic environment, I have been exploring how to identify who the target audience is.  I have been using the Journal of Digital Humanities as a resource to research best publicity practices for a DH project.  I have continued to document the Travelogue team’s progress in journal posts and updated the team’s Twitter.


If you want to contact us please do. Our project blog is at  travelogue.commons.gc.cuny.edu. Email us at dhtravelogue [at] gmail [dot] com or follow us on Twitter @DhTravelogue

Researcher Beware!

Genevieve asked a great question Monday night: How does one verify the data reflected in mapping platforms?

In his answer, Steve Romalewski stressed that when examining any kind of data, critical thinking is essential. First, look at the metadata to see when the content was updated, look to see where the information came from, who gathered it, what it includes and, by extension, excludes.

Both Genevieve’s question and Steve’s answer underscore the importance of critical thinking and content transparency in the myriad digital tools we use everyday for research. There is often a false sense of security when searching online platforms that the content will be there and that it will be true. And if it’s not there, then it must not exist at all.

To some extent, it might not exist, online anyway. Take, for example, an online full text historical newspaper archive. While the platform may advertise a specific title as being in the full text, it doesn’t necessarily tell you that only select issues are available. The hapless researcher, plugging in keywords and getting nowhere might not be aware of that gap in coverage, and so gets…nothing. If she had known the inclusion dates of that digital archive, she might’ve known that while her online search might yield very little, a spin through a physical microfilm reel might prove enormously fruitful —  albeit a lot more time consuming.

As we increasingly rely on digital tools for research, sometimes to the exclusion of other resources, we must always be aware of the ways the resources are structured and the content they provide. With that knowledge, we’ll have much more manageable expectations of what can be found, how best to approach it for research, or whether someone is better off consulting another full text portal: the physical book.

Message from Steve Romalewski

Steve and Matt,

I hope yesterday’s presentation was helpful.  The students had some good questions.  As I mentioned, I’d be glad to follow up with them individually if they have more specific questions or want to discuss options.

Btw, I was reminded today that cartoDB has started to offer online tutorials for beginners.  More info here: http://cartodb.com/academy  The first session already took place, but they’ll have others and the material will be archived at that link.  Please pass along to your students if you think it’d be helpful.



Steven Romalewski, Director,
CUNY Mapping Service
Center for Urban Research at The Graduate Center / CUNY

Mapping Movies

Steve Romalewski offered us a broad overview of the many tools one can utilize for mapping projects. It is astounding to consider the sophistication of programs like ArcGIS and QGIS when, as Steve noted, the majority of the functionality is never even used, and wonderfully complex, insightful maps are created nonetheless. Equally astounding, however, are more recent, smaller-scale tools such as mapbox.com, cartodb.com, and even ESRI’s Storymaps. While both ArcGIS and QGIS are powerful devices that are not particularly intimidating, a humanist may find one of the latter mapping tools more appropriate for his/her work. Intuitive and easily navigable, such tools can be remarkably effective for geo-plotting humanistic data. Since my background is in film studies, I am particularly interested in thinking of ways to map movie data.

Despite an abundance of work and theory developed around literary mapping (particularly the work of Franco Moretti), there seem to be relatively few attempts to synthesize cinema and maps. Of note, however, is Stephen Mamber’s digital work, as well as his 2003 essay, “Narrative Mapping”, which outlines potential approaches for mapping narrative films. Also notable is Jeffrey Klenotic’s current project “Mapping Movies” (see jeffklenotic.com). Narrative mappings of a film may be interesting, particularly when multiple settings occur and the geography itself has contextual meaning, but Klenotic’s project shows that other forms of mapping cinema are possible. Though unfinished at the moment, this project intends to map film exhibitions from an historical perspective in order to gain social and cultural knowledge regarding the movie-going population in certain locations at certain moments in time. Another conceivable approach could involve mapping production locations, if one was doing historical research on the business itself, or perhaps simply investigating how production locations contrast their fictional counterparts. Likewise, mapping a particular film author’s work (either by production location or fictional setting) might offer insight only attainable through geographical visualization. Suffice to say, the potential is vast.

ESRI’s Storymaps, though seemingly unsophisticated and geared toward a consumer-base, may in fact offer the greatest potential for mapping movies. If people haven’t tried this quick, easy, and fun tutorial, I would highly recommend it: http://www.computerworld.com/slideshow/detail/111965. The “map tour” template (and other templates probably have this functionality, as well) allows one to import web images and video (via flickr, youtube, etc.). This is great for geo-tagging photos from a road trip. But this could be equally valuable for a scholarly, narrative mapping project. Historical documents, manuscripts, etc. can be compiled, converted to image files, posted to a site like Flickr, then very easily mapped in Storymaps. For film study, one could rip a DVD using a simple, free tool like Handbrake (http://handbrake.fr), break down scenes according to setting (using QuickTime Player or simple editing software like iMovie), post each scene as a separate video to YouTube, then embed the URL to a pin in Storymaps (based, of course, on the geographic location in which the scene is set). Likewise, the video clip is viewable in a side bar, similar to National Geographic’s “Geostories” (http://www.geostories.org/portal/). One can, therefore, watch an entire film while simultaneously tracing the narrative geographically.

This process may seem a bit convoluted, but it is actually quite simple, and it offers a new way of looking at a particular film, or any story.


New tools for online cartography

Annotating online maps to provide context and narrative

Mapping tutorials