This resource is intended to aid digital humanities scholars who wish to integrate geospatial analysis into their humanist endeavors.

 Mapping and geographic information systems (GIS) can be powerful tools to support or augment humanities scholarship, but not every tool is suited to every digital humanities project. An interactive community archive, for instance, requires a tool which gives voice to multiple individuals rather than letting its authorship fade into the background, and whose technical barriers to participation are not insurmountable. Questions of authorship are less pressing for a map of the movements and interactions of artists in fin-de-siecle Paris, but such a project would flourish best if it were built on a tool which facilitated time-lapse animations and interactive pop-up windows displaying the artworks being produced. A map charting personal correspondence might only require point-based data, but for an examination of shifting political or linguistic boundaries, coverage-based data is indispensable. Each geospatial humanities project defines “geospatial analysis” a little differently, and demands different capabilities from its technical platform. It is vital to choose the right tool for the job, so that your project can work with the technology instead of fighting against it.

 The Reference Table provides an overview of the capabilities of several leading GIS and mapping tools, with an eye toward the particular needs and concerns of humanist research. The Detailed Field Guide (links at right) provides in-depth analysis of each tool, with an assessment of its ideal uses in the digital humanities, as well as a realistic evaluation of its benefits and costs. Taken together, these two resources provide the necessary information to choose the right mapping/GIS tool for your digital humanities project.

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