Though my project does not involve maps in the traditional sense, I still find the intellectual background/conceptual framework involved in map making quite interesting. As someone who often both reads and writes fantasy fiction, creating new ways of conceptualizing space and transferring it to a consumable form for an audience is something that I’ve been preoccupied with for a long time. Most of my experience in map making is in the form of traditional media (pen and ink/etc.), but, who knows–with the wide-spread shift toward digital book formats, maybe one day digital fantasy novels will be able to include digital interactive maps that allow authors to create new and multidimensional ways of portraying their worlds to readers.
As such, one of the linked projects this week that I found most interesting was the HyperCities platform. I can see how this would especially be useful for mapping urban spaces–as infra/structures are built and rebuilt on top of one another, there is an urban geography at play that really deserves to be mapped in both time and space. What a great way to map the changes in a neighborhood over time, for example. The platform link is also a great example of the importance of data curation for digital projects–so many of the links are broken or images are missing, it was really disappointing not to be able to get a better sense of the interesting projects made with this tool.
The Brooklyn block-by-block project was also interesting, but in a way, I was expecting more out of it–I was expecting to be able to click on a building and see an image of it (either present-day or a historical collection) or get some kind of link to a story about that location rather than just having a very large, very detailed map that color coded all available buildings by date. I can see the purpose of this–it does, as the project states, allow you to see where development happened and where it didn’t–but it fell short of my expectations. This map does tell a story, in one way, but it’s not a story that I found to be particularly engaging. Maybe that says more about my preferences than it does about anything else, however.
In this week’s readings, I also found a link to Timeline JS, which I think is going to be the program/format that I use for my project instead of TimeMapper. The project that convinced me that this would be a better platform for me was the Bulger on Trial timeline that was linked on the Timeline JS homepage. This is exactly the sort of project that I want to be able to do–create an interactive timeline with links to all sorts of other media, like documents, video, and images.
Exploring this project also helped me settle more on the scope of my project. What I would like to do is a make a timeline of Karadzic trial at the ICTY which covers not only the trial, but the important dates referenced in the trial documentation–dates of massacres, the progress of the war in Bosnia, the peace process, etc. This will allow me to craft the most compelling story possible about the trial. The project conceptualized as such doesn’t have much relation at all to my (prospective) dissertation work, but it’s something that I find interesting, which is ultimately more important to me than the utility of the project to my academic goals. Then again, the alternative version of this project–a detailed timeline of the trial that maps all of the documents filed and testimony given in order to better show the “lifespan” of an international criminal trial, so to speak–didn’t have much to do with my (prospective) dissertation either.
Even though I’m interested in creating a story that I can share with others, it’s really limited to the time-span of this class–I don’t really have the sustained interest in the project needed to curate the data I use for it for any extended period of time. I’ll keep the project bibliography and whatever documents I decide to download from the ICTY’s site on-hand for future reference, along with the project url, but I will most likely just present the timeline on this WordPress and then lock it after the end of the semester.
With all this in mind, here’s my updated project timeline:
February 26-March 12: Explore the potential background info that I can use to put the trial in context. This means going through my existing bibliography of books and other media on the Balkan Wars to pick out the most compelling and relevant sources that I’ll use for this project. That this section includes Spring Break is important: a lot of my library is still packed away back at home, and I’ll want to be able to pull physical copies of the books I’ll use most heavily. (I know ILL is a thing, but one less thing for me to forget to return on time is always a bonus.)
February 26-April 2: Sort through all the trial documents. It’s important that I start to do this process at the same time that I’m gathering my background information because I have to see what events in specific are referenced in the trial documents. I have a good idea of what events will be focused on, but I’d rather be certain before gathering a bunch of stuff for some event that I know Karadzic was involved in but that was not covered extensively at his trial. I’m setting April 2nd as a hard date to stop combing through the documents. I know myself–I’ll just keep looking and thinking and digging until the night before the project is due if I let myself, which I won’t. I’ll have the documents selected by the second, and then make myself move forward with whatever I’ve found by that point so that I don’t run out of time and turn in a jumbled project.
March 12-21: Get project planning documentation done, with whatever that might entail.
March 26-30: Settle on which documents are the most important out of the ones that I have reviewed and make a pen-and-paper draft of what my timeline will look like with these documents serving as the core of the project. It’s important for me to do a physical draft of the project before doing the full-on digital version. I’m not very proficient at visualizing things on-screen–when I really want to tear a topic apart or come up with a really good outline, I have to do it with physical tools in physical space. I’m not saying that I tape documents and notes to a wall and connect them with pieces of string like a conspiracy theorist…but I sort of low-key do.
April 2-13: Transform my physical timeline into a digital one. This will mean transferring the blurbs I’ve written into the Google Sheet that Timeline JS runs off of and plugging in the links to video, images, etc. I’ve decided to give myself a hard limit of 30 slides (the Timeline JS site recommends 20, but I don’t think I could do an adequate job in that limited space…although, we’ll see, ultimately). So I’ll do five slides per day for six days, with the remaining three days to tweak the presentation/fix up my WordPress so I have a good page to put the timeline on.
April 18: If I could, I’d like to present on the 18th. That way, I have five more days of extra padding to work with the timeline presentation in case I need it. Obviously, I can push myself to finish the project two days earlier (by the 11th), if I get slated to present then…but the 18th really would be preferable. Neither first nor last is a good position to be in.