Geographic Information System, or GIS
What GIS projects are, is the new wave of presentation of scholarship. Do they contribute to scholarship? I say no, but instead serve an alternate purpose. For those of us in the History field who are not natural writers, options for digital presentation are more alluring. Besides being a source for information other interested parties, they are an engaging platform on which to display your research and digital prowess.
To get to know a GIS project behind the scenes, try this. And hey, who doesn’t love an introduction video?
On the Mapping the Republic of Letters page they describe themselves as a site that “seeks to answer these and other questions through the development of sophisticated, interactive visualization tools. It also aims to create a repository for metadata on early-modern scholarship, and guidelines for future data capture.”
When I poked out the site, I found that the Voltaire page was fun. If as a scholar, you are interested in tracking letters, social communications, even the history of emotions or thought then this is a great place to begin a journey into the research.
If you are not looking to begin original research, but instead want a historian-vetted source to supplement knowledge then other GIS projects might be better suited to that. For instance, they can be used as excellent sources for teachers. Teachers may struggle to keep modern children engaged in classrooms that now have tablets and Smartboards, especially in the subject of History- often famous for being a snooze-fest. Surely not to anyone reading this blog of course…
Well, with the Virtual Jamestown page, it is easy to imagine a classroom being engaged by the 3D villages and other features. Check it out for yourself! If I were a teacher I would certainly be looking to GIS projects to drive home the text book history in a way that the student can visualize.