I'm implementing a blog here so that I can track my progress/make the site as a whole more scholarly, as I'm preparing to use this as my Digital Humanities graduate certificate capstone project.
This semester I'm in an information visualization class within the SLIS department. I was super excited since it seemed like it was going to be a great overview/introduction to different types of visualization, since I'm only really familiar with QGIS ArcGIS, and, obviously, the Google Mapping format that I'm using for this website.
So, after like 12 weeks of absolute suffering and really lackluster assignments, I asked the Professor about doing a digital mapping project for the term project. He was willing to allow me to do that. I was thrilled, finally, I'll get to present the work I've done on the map!
The first map I made was through QGIS, however that's hosted only locally on my computer and not able to be embedded in a meaningful and interactive way, it would only be a static picture, as below.
While nice, not exactly thrilling, or interactive, or particularly legible for that matter.
Admittedly, the Google Map is still in its initial stages, it only has about 30 locations and the layers/included information are fairly wonky. BUT I'm pretty proud of it, especially since I wasn't totally sure I would be able to embed it effectively into the site.
Well, Professor was Not Impressed. I've put too much time into it, why don't I just write a python script to scan the book for location names, who would even use this, is the text even taught in classes, what do the different colors mean, how is this going to work with your DH certificate, etc etc etc.
Needless to say I'm fairly crushed. While I understand that things need improvement, I think it's rather unfair to 1) assume that this text is pointless and I'm wasting my time and 2) holding everyone to the same coding capabilities.
He did, however, raise some good points. I think I do need to limit what's visible when zoomed out from the map. Obviously I'm going to be amending the layers so that each different type of location is a different layer and can be toggled on and off. I'm also going to be working with shapes to define things like "plains" and "moors" that don't really have one singular location but are instead large areas.
I've also been asking myself what the purpose of visualizing this information is. Primarily I think it's important to realize that While The Tale takes place primarily within the capital, the government had a wide reaching influence, especially since the emperor was assigning men to far off provinces to serve as governor. In addition to that, utamakura were frequently referencing locations that were extremely far from the capital, so being able to visualize that is helpful for understanding the literature of the time.
I will continue combing through the text by hand because 1) I enjoy it and 2) I think it's important to get as many details as possible about these locations, especially since the text is so old.
Below, a snapshot of some of the columns I have going in my excel spreadsheet of location data.
The orange highlighted rows are new additions that don't have longitude/latitude yet.