Sharing a comment…

I actually wrote this as a comment in Ken’s blog, but knowing that there’s a better chance of getting more replies if I post it as a blog entry than there is if I post it as a comment, I’ll repeat myself here:

Another issue I had with "online atlases" is trying to understand what constitutes an online atlas. The atlas is very much a product of bookbinding. The binding makes the atlas– otherwise it’s just a collection of maps. Which is what the Rumsey collection felt like to me– a collection of maps. (Seriously, though– I know it’s in the name, but that didn’t occur to me until I was typing this.)

What elements could be included to make an online atlas more than a collection of maps? To "bind" the maps together, even if it is in a nonlinear fashion? What work do atlases do, other than keeping our maps from getting all over the place? And is it worth the work, both conceptual and time in doing the design, to make an "online atlas" proper? Or is a collection of maps enough?

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Sharing a comment…

  1. Karin says:

    For the most part I saw two kinds of online maps this week as I was researching:
    A. Digital scan of a map with no interactivity and a little textual historical detail
    B. Digital scan of a map with LOTS of interactivity and no textural historical detail.

    Surely there must be an “inbetween” out there? I think Marty wrote that his impression of Hayes’ thinking was to get a map out for public viewing, and allow the public to make its own decisions about the historical implications. Okay…I kind of by that, but I also think Hayes might be a bit lazy. When I was in film school my fellow students were always trying to use “symbolism” as a way to avoid explaining the visuals in their film. If I had a dime for every time someone said “what do you mean you don’t understand the meaning of the beam of light hitting the left hand of that clown” I’d actually buy all the books this semester. You can’t rely on the fact that people are smart enough to infer something from a film scene, or a map, to get back on subject. A well done page with interactive elements that accessible on a variety of browsers is only half the battle. The historical narrative completes the picture.

  2. Karin says:

    For the most part I saw two kinds of online maps this week as I was researching:
    A. Digital scan of a map with no interactivity and a little textual historical detail
    B. Digital scan of a map with LOTS of interactivity and no textural historical detail.

    Surely there must be an “inbetween” out there? I think Marty wrote that his impression of Hayes’ thinking was to get a map out for public viewing, and allow the public to make its own decisions about the historical implications. Okay…I kind of by that, but I also think Hayes might be a bit lazy. When I was in film school my fellow students were always trying to use “symbolism” as a way to avoid explaining the visuals in their film. If I had a dime for every time someone said “what do you mean you don’t understand the meaning of the beam of light hitting the left hand of that clown” I’d actually buy all the books this semester. You can’t rely on the fact that people are smart enough to infer something from a film scene, or a map, to get back on subject. A well done page with interactive elements that accessible on a variety of browsers is only half the battle. The historical narrative completes the picture.

  3. Don Fields says:

    I enjoyed your thought that perhaps atlases are just a way to keep our maps together in one spot. I think Karin has hit on the key to this week’s assignment. It is the textual aspects of an atlas that provides the binding and differentiates one from another. An online atlas that is a simple collection of maps fails even if the maps are important documents. The question is how to incorporate historical narrative in an online atlas as effectively as Hayes did in his printed atlas. I’m not sure it can be done. Online books and handheld electronic devices for reading e-books have generally failed.

  4. Don Fields says:

    I enjoyed your thought that perhaps atlases are just a way to keep our maps together in one spot. I think Karin has hit on the key to this week’s assignment. It is the textual aspects of an atlas that provides the binding and differentiates one from another. An online atlas that is a simple collection of maps fails even if the maps are important documents. The question is how to incorporate historical narrative in an online atlas as effectively as Hayes did in his printed atlas. I’m not sure it can be done. Online books and handheld electronic devices for reading e-books have generally failed.

  5. Ja says:

    I refrained from writing about any of the atlases linked in the syllabus in large part because I didn’t think most consituted an online atlas. They were sample post of parts of print atlases designed to be used as books.

Comments are closed.