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Since now, I knew GIS (Geographical Information Systems) just as – like the name says – digitalization of geographical data. For example in civil engineering, GIS is widely used, especially for plant management, cadastre plans and for topographic information. The digital map includes for instance all the pipes and cables in the underground and shows the streets and buildings on other layers. Nowadays, powerful CAD (computer aided-design) programs are able to manage huge GIS data even in 3-dimensional ways. Looking through the articles when it comes to collect data and to digitalize and mapping them, a common denominator for a lot of space-depending research fields is the GIS. The possibilities in collecting data and storing them are endless. GIS is used in many different fields like in history, literature, archaeology etc. When it is coming to evolve temporal data in a map, the idea is more or less the same for all fields, namely to get georeferences on specific happenings and to put them in the right timeline.

A good example is showed in the article The Atlanta Map project: TEI and GIS collaborate to create a research environment. The article tells about building a base of historic maps from library collections. The purpose of the map was to allow scholars to research aspects of the history of Atlanta. Therefore a georeferenced and digitalized atlas of Atlanta from 1928 was made. The map was modelled by using GIS coding. Whit GIS software it is possible to pursue research via data that is encoded in layers of a geographic map. The GIS system was then linked with TEI (Text Encoding Initiative), a tool that enables encoding texts and to simplify text research. Thereby it is for example possible to search for a name that will bring up map references showing the locations associated with that name. Further steps consist of adding information of other time periods. The goal of the project is to bring together spatial and non-spatial data to create a digital tool for analyzing historical Atlanta.

Another example is about collecting data using literature. The paper Mapping Editions: Literary Editions and GIS (a field report) analyses the relationship between geography and literature. The author proposes to use GIS as an instrument for pedagogical opportunities for spatial analysis in literary studies. A further thinking is that GIS projects foster the practice of producing literary texts by simplifying the thinking in space. Additionally it would offer an opportunity for students to engage in literary practices. Projects like these – the author calls it “literary cartography” – should stimulate collaboration between geographers and humanists and it is a further source to complete georeferenced maps like explained in the first example.

The third article shows an example in archaeology. Current Research & Practice in Digital Archaeology tells in the session abstract that in archaeology the analysis of digital data is a main part to understand socio-spatial data. GIS applications in combination with CAD programs serve often as base for visualization and modelling and facilitate the production of detailed archaeological maps. The author asserts that “[…] we have entered an age in which all archaeology is digital archaeology and all archaeologists are digital archaeologists.” An example is given in the article An Introduction to the Practices and Initial Findings of the Digital Index of North American Archaeology (DINAA). The DINAA project creates compatibility models for archaeological site databases in the eastern United States. Among other aims, the project will provide instructions for open source GIS application (the most known is ARCGIS; see: http://www.arcgis.com) to support education in geographic archaeology.

These articles show just a few possible applications and examples of using GIS for georeferenced data. The temporal dependency of the data is as well seen as base for some of the projects based on GIS. This kind of application is a powerful instrument in education and research to understand historical events and developing of populations.

Just imaging putting together different topics in one GIS map with temporal information, this would lead to a huge library of information. Such projects serve as base for scholars, scientists and for other interested people and the possibilities are wide. It can be seen that it needs a lot of resources to but information together in a GIS system since there are huge amounts of data. Methods like public engagement, crowdsourcing, linked-open data, and digital fieldwork records can be considered as support for data collection. Nevertheless it needs to be determined, what kind of information is needed to avoid data overload.

References:

http://dh2013.unl.edu/abstracts/ab-416.html

http://dh2013.unl.edu/abstracts/ab-265.html

http://dh2013.unl.edu/abstracts/ab-376.html

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