One of the most personally and academically rewarding projects I’ve done is my work in geospatial mapping using Google Earth. For years, I’ve churned out paper after paper, analyzing literature, making arguments, and quoting my rear off to make a point; it came as a shock to find such a useful tool for literary analysis that not a single professor had ever mentioned. Geospatial mapping is more than just planting points all over a map because, like much of what DH has to offer (MALLETT, Voyant, etc.), it allows us to grasp much larger patterns and subtleties that the human mind can’t fathom on its own. We, as a race, have built tools since the beginning of time to expand our abilities and DH offers those in the humanities the ability to evolve our practices to new heights.
More than the ability to extract patterns and data from a narrative (in the case of this project, my own life), Google Earth offers the ability to bring space into the narrative and have word, location, and visualization exist simultaneously. In my project, I can describe a terrible car accident I was in and show you the car I’m describing, parked on the side of the road outside my house in Portland, ME. I can describe the picket fence my father and I painted together while you look at it in BIddeford, ME.
When you visit my Facebook page, which details a great deal of my life with pictures and locations on a map where they were taken, you’d think this social need to express one’s life was already filled. Scroll down until “Birth,” however, and you’ll find that I did absolutely nothing between Birth and the day my digital self (Facebook account) was created. For those looking to give “Friends” and in-depth look at their childhood and development, this is a great way to share that experience with others.
This project really culminated my experience with Digital Humanities over the semester; it pointed to the antiquated and complacent ways we analyze literature, showed how technology is ever changing in abilities and uses, and showcased how creative DH can take our perception of what a narrative is and flip it on its head.