General Research Agenda:
Bringing together the analytic tools of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and traditional methods of humanistic inquiry, HyperCities publishes research that critically maps and interprets a wide-range of cultural, historical, and social dynamics. The central theme is geo-temporal analysis and argumentation, an endeavor that cuts across a multitude of disciplines, including history, geography, sociology, architecture, cultural studies, urban planning, archaeology, and new media studies. Crucial to such scholarship is the reliance on new forms of visual and cartographic, time/space-based narrative strategies. Just as the turning of the page carries the reader forward in a traditionally conceived academic monograph, so the visual elements, spatial layouts, and kinetic guideposts guide the “reader” through the argument situated within a multi-dimensional, virtual cartographic space.
Tenets of Research in “Digital Cultural Mapping” :
- Geo-Temporal Argumentation: Created using traditional GIS tools (such as ESRI’s ArcGIS), 3D visualization applications (such as Maya or Google’s Sketch-Up), and basic KML editors (Google My Maps), all scholarship published in HyperCities is in the format of KML. Short for Keyhole Mark-up Language, KML was chosen because its development is funded by private enterprise (Google) but governed by the Open Geospatial Consortium, which ensures a robust user-base and an open-source development model for specification and implementation. KML files can also be viewed in any geo-browser, including Google Maps/Earth, Microsoft Virtual Earth, and Nasa World Wind.
- A Self-reflective, Multiformat Model: By virtue of its hybrid instantiation, research publications in HyperCities reflect on the very medium in which scholarly work is produced. KML files can be viewed on the web or even on GPS-enabled hand-held devices. What happens when scholarship takes on the form of digital maps, layered datasets, and navigable space-time interfaces? At the same time, what happens to the format of the book, the traditional medium for scholarly publication? We see print publications and digital files existing in a productive tension, remediating and perhaps translating one another.
- Publications for the World of Web 2.0: Unlike traditional monographs which tend to be single-authored, fixed, discrete, and print publications, “digital cultural mappings” are often collaboratively produced, interactive, integrated, and hypermedia in format. Humanists work with technologists and designers to create the digital files, which will then be made available to end-users who can view, navigate, and even contribute to or manipulate the KML files within HyperCities. Navigation is both curated by the author as well as free-form, should the user so choose (comparable to public notes in the margin). Moreover, scholarly content co-exists and even intermingles with community-generated content, allowing new and rich interactions between traditionally-separated venues.
- Hypermedia: Unlike books which rest upon the linearity of print, strict pagination, and the limits of select illustrations, the publications within HyperCities are truly hypermedia maps that include unique narratives, troves of illustrations, sound, cartographic renderings, 3D models, and relevant datasets. The user can select to follow a specific pathway, or access the material following his own organizational ideas and needs.
- Scholarly Rigor and Peer Review: The emphasis is placed upon geo-temporal argumentation, interpretation, and critique. These studies are not simply about space and time; rather they are part of a cartographic visualization engine that uses representations of space and time to make the argument. As with traditional publications, scholarly rigor and peer review is critical for success as well as the wider acceptance of digital publications inside and outside the academy.