Category Archives: Resources & Links of Interest

Stitching on the Old to the New: Tracking Change through Maps

I recently attended a workshop on Map Warper at NYPL that dealt with ‘georectifying’, an often arduous and tedious post-digitizing processing of maps, that the NYPL Map Division has managed to turn into a fun and engaged activity by opting to crowdsource it. Funded by the NEH, the Map Warper is a tool suite, used by library staff but also open to the public, to align (or “rectify”) historical maps to today’s digital maps, adding valuable geographic context to old maps. Importantly, all work done is in the public domain. In NYPL’s words,

“Tile by tile, we’re stitching old atlas sheets into historical layers, that researchers can explore with pan-and-zoom functionality, comparing yesterday’s cityscape with today’s. Along with other tools — such as one for tracing building footprints and transcribing address and material information found on the maps — we are laying the groundwork for dynamic geospatial discovery of other library collections: manuscripts and archives, historical newspapers, photography, A/V, ephemera (e.g. menus) etc.”

Given our discussions these past weeks, it seems to me that the points of departure are numerous. I’m reminded of Sarah’s post on mapping the urban setting of fictional characters, when I think about how this tool can help recreate the urban setting of historical characters/personages in today’s context. All one needs is a time period and location, if the Map Division has a corresponding map, lo, and behold! you can see the past and present streetscapes simultaneously.  From an urban planning perspective, it is fascinating to see how the cityscape wears the passage of time and explore possible lessons for urban design. I expect it also will help planners visualize and chart the imperceptible movement of real estate, the steady shift of the cityscape over the underlying landscape, which is only possible with tools such as this.


Source: Map Warper, NYPL Labs

“The above image shows a warped map sheet from an 1857 William Perris Real Estate Atlas depicting a section of Manhattan to the southwest of Union Square (see it in the context of the Warper). By stitching this to its sibling sheets from the atlas, we can build a complete 1857 historical layer of Manhattan, observing changes in the street layout and conjuring the ghostly footprints of old buildings. This is just step 1 in a larger integration effort, in which we can pull together archival records, newspapers, photography and other literary and historical documents that are associated with places on the map.”

Link –

For those of you interested, there is also a helpful tutorial video on their website to get you started on the project, and helpful Map Division staff are available for tech support.

Twitter Workshop Overview/Sept. 30th

Hi –
In class last week I suggested that we might want to share overviews from the workshops here since not all of us can make the Thursday evening DH workshops.

I suggest we keep these reports broad in scope and brief in text. Here’s my overview of the twitter workshop last week.

The workshop format was pretty informal. Approximately 12 students sat at computer lab portals in the subbasement library while we perused the twitter-sphere.
*(Make a note) Some of these labs are only accessed through the library, not the main elevators.

  • The teaching fellows (is ‘fellows’ the masculine use of the word?) flipped through various accounts demonstrating how twitter can increase your profile on the web.
  • For example: If you have a common name, your name may be associated with several people on the search engines, including criminals. To mitigate this, think of distinguishing yourself by adding a middle initial to your name and tweeting often to raise your visibility. Go to google. Search your name. See what comes up.
  • We noticed that Micki Kaufman got a big burst of twitter attention by way of a recent sharing of information and images. Congrats.
  • Suddenly one can become a “Twitter Star” as in the case of many prominent professors who have written books and have a great number of followers. In these cases a great many more people may be following you, than you are following.
  • Check out platforms like Hootsuite if you want to schedule your tweets ahead of time, put all your social platforms in one place, and measure your social media results
  • I’m attaching a twitter quick tips sheet here. It was for an event a year ago, but if you substitute #DHpraxis14 as the hashtag, and our classmates twitter handles (their accounts) to your tweets, you can use this good and simple guide to make some practical twitter sense.

Good Luck!
And, FYI – you do not need to be a twitter fan to have a small amount of success. I don’t really “love” twitter, but I “do” it, simply because its part of the digital world in which we live.


Data vs. Capta

Hello, all,

Here is Johanna Drucker’s piece, “Humanities Approaches to Graphical Display,” that I mentioned in class.

In her abstract, Drucker argues that ” the concept of data as a given has to be rethought through a humanistic lens and characterized as capta, taken and constructed.” In doing so, I feel that she helps to establish what is unique about humanities computing–that it is not computer science and humanistic study on different sides of the same coin, but rather an integration of concepts from both disciplines.