Experiences While Mapping

In the past couple of weeks we have worked thoroughly with GIS. This has taught me a great deal about the digital world and how to convey it to the general public. For example, we learned how to create maps that represented the travels of Linn throughout his diary. With GIS, we are able to map Linn’s positions and see what he saw through different map layers. In my case, I used the map layer “RoanokeRebels” to plot Linn’s journey from the beaches of Reno all the way to Pork Point. I was able to visualize the various forts and land obstacles, as well as get a feel for the exact route Linn took to get to his destination. GIS creates a story out of just a few of Linn’s diary entries. This idea of mapping through GIS relates directly with Bodenhammer’s theory of spatial thinking.

Linn runs into a fellow soldier in this swamp who happens to also know James Merrill Linn

Linn and his comrades run into fellow soldiers in a swamp and stop to talk about past colleges, friends, etc. 

Spatial thinking is the way in which we navigate the world while manipulating the space around us. It is this type of thinking that has, “reinvigorated geography as a discipline, just as it has engaged scholars within humanities” (Bodenhammer, 14). More specifically, it has brought about what Bodenhammer calls “intellectual currents” into the American experience. GIS is a perfect example of how maps can provide a story in which anyone can follow. At the beginning of this assignment, I knew nothing about Roanoke Island and what battles had taken place there. However, through the process of mapping and what Bodenhammer calls, “observation and testing”, I have been able to develop a good understanding as to how the battle of Roanoke Island unfolded.

It doesn’t matter what the map is of or where it is, through spatial thinking with the right resources, we are able to comprehend any event in history. What’s so great about GIS is that it offers, “a view of the physical environment seemingly stripped of its cultural assumptions” (Bodenhammer, 16). This means that we are seeing the map as a plain canvas into which unlimited amounts of data are poured into it. Through the addition of map layers and map notes, the viewer is able digest what happened on that particular map, and can then proceed to make an inference on what occurred. Despite all these benefits of GIS, “most humanists have not adopted GIS, or more fundamentally, found it helpful” (Bodenhammer, 22). However, I believe that over time, people will start to realize the value of GIS and will learn to incorporate it more and more into their work.

Here is the link to my map project: http://bit.ly/1qv35c8