Omeka Neatline and spatial-temporal visualization, anyone?


This workshop suggestion focuses on a tool, the Neatline map tool, that in some ways follows up on the discussion about the use of Scripto for Omeka projects. It follows first because of an underlying interest in Omeka, and second, because of an interest in visualizing archival data in interesting ways (which is what I take the text and archive based work in Scripto to be in the service of accomplishing). As I am sure a number of you know — and Patrick in particular — Neatline has the benefit or detraction of being a UVA product, so it is not currently supported by the hosting service and its server-based plugin library. Bummer as that may be, the advantage, I think, is associated with the increased potential flexibility of the tool.

My interest has been for some time now to marry textual / archival data with cartographic and spatial matter in order to create a richer and deeper data set. Think of this as an exploration of “big data” for cartographic or spatial humanists. One of the principle difficulties I see inherent in GIS platforms is the distinction (often under-represented) between powerful visualization and presentation platforms and powerful analytical platforms. We have begun to see strongly interpretive tools in corpus analysis and data mining applications; we have not, to my mind, seen the same evolution in the realm of humanist data visualization, and in particular, those visualizations tied to time and space through GIS technologies like Neatline. So, I would open this up for a potential workshop that might address themes like: what are some of the the analytical potentials of GIS based technologies? How do we see archival inquiries and historical investigations productively in conversation with the cartographic imagination? What are the limitations of tools like Neatline, or perhaps Google Earth / GMap? I mentioned QGIS in an earlier post and it got a big thud of silence, so maybe this is a better approach, but if anyone wants to dig into technical GIS (as in ArcGIS or QGIS, I’d be open to that as well). Any takers?


Categories: General, Mapping, Publishing, Session: Play, Teaching, Visualization | Tags: , , , , , |

About jasonecohen

I'm a wayward Renaissance guy who teaches film, comparatist approaches to lit and philosophy, and who actually works most directly on Francis Bacon (hence, love of a certain pork product, Irish artist, and Lord Chancellor). Beyond that, my interest in technology, aside from its inevitability, stems from a desire to find a set of tools that actually allow deep scholarship to happen in more flexible forms than the monograph (whether electronic, print, or hybrid), and second, to create tools that enable my students to do work that can, over time and in the aggregate, honestly use coursework to assist the scholarly projects I value and which extend beyond the classroom. My principle digital projects are an eJournal -- -- and a set of mapping tools for inquiring into oceanic sovereignty in early European empire (currently in beta) at

3 Responses to Omeka Neatline and spatial-temporal visualization, anyone?

  1. Sounds fantastic; I’m in. Many thanks.

  2. dawn says:

    I’m in! I’d also like to see the discussion move beyond Google Maps/Earth and incorporate more flexible solutions like Mapstraction and other tools that support multiple javascript mapping solutions. And definitely Neatline…

  3. jasonecohen says:

    Chris and Dawn, and attendant silent majority: I’m glad there’s interest here. Mapstraction — looks cool and interesting, and perhaps in need of an update? I’m in, and would love to see what you’re doing with it. I’m currently using the Google Earth API in combination with a GDocs spreadsheet / fusion tables , which is a really flexible way to do the data entry and management. Anyway, I’m using it in the spring and surely hope it will work for the class as well as my research. So, yes, let’s look at that stuff. I should admit, straight out, that I’m absolutely new to Neatline and am just setting it up for myself, so anyone who has experience actually implementing it, let me know.

    Finally, anyone interested in co-leading a session on this stuff, hit me back and we can put our heads together on it.

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