Week 9.

This week, we discussed the challenges and benefits to mapping time. Michael Goodchild in his article, “Combining Space and Time: New Potential for Temporal GIS”, discusses the limitations and challenges associated with traditional paper maps and introduces the evolution of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) as a solution. Static maps have many issues associated with them, like distortion of places and the inability to represent three-dimensional information accurately. The advent of digital technology, exemplified by the Canada Geographic Information System (CGIS), revolutionized the sharing of geographic information. CGIS laid the foundation for global GIS practices by converting map content into digital form, allowing for more efficient and accurate representation. 

Layering different themes in GIS emerged as a key aspect, enabling advanced operations on geographic data. Despite the shift to digital technology, the metaphor and concept of physical maps continues to influence GIS design. 

Goodchild also highlights some challenges posed by uncertainty in GIS. He emphasizes that, like analog maps, GIS databases are simply approximations that may not perfectly replicate the real world. 

In the 90s, an object-oriented model emerged, which addresses the issues of a model based on relationships. Rather, it organizes things based on defined objects that get sorted into groups. This model was a significant advancement that allowed for a more accurate representation of geographic information. The discrete-object model, representing identifiable and countable objects, became the most popular display mode, allowing the GIS databases to store non-mappable information which better accounts for changes over time and other issues presented by previous models like blurred borders. 

Modern GIS databases can handle dynamism and other complexities that are challenging for static paper maps, which show a limited understanding of a very specific moment in time and space. However, Goodchild also addresses a concept that has been a through line of the course: the resistance to adopt new practices despite vast improvements. I really enjoyed his discussion of how GIS specialists are benefitted by incorporating historians, anthropologists, and other fields to strengthen the accuracy of the maps created. Maps are often considered to be supplementary material, but supplementing the supplement can only bolster the strength and fidelity of the maps. Once again, encouraging an interdisciplinary approach seems to be a strategy that benefits everyone! 

Goodchild acknowledges the existing challenges of the field, like the limited availability of tools for dynamic data analysis in GIS and the lack of dynamic, three-dimensional data, especially in historical periods. However, the future of GIS, particularly for historians, is extremely promising! 

Considering Goodchild’s article, Suzanne Churchill, Linda Kinnahan, and Susan Rosenbaum put many of the digital mapping strategies to use in their DH project about Mina Loy. In their article, “”Mina Loy: Navigating the Avant-Garde”: a case study of collaborative DH design”, they discuss the on-the-ground challenges of creating a DH mapping project. Although at some points, they seem to be making a case for why we shouldn’t do DH projects, like difficulty receiving funding or a global pandemic, the Mina Loy project is a promising example of what DH are capable of. 

In my map, I wanted to capture how time and objects interact with each other and why a single view of time and space is not an accurate representation of an object’s story. 

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