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Open Historical Maps

Open Historical Maps: Crowdsourcing, Open Source GIS, and the Research Web

ABCD GIS Group, Harvard Center for Geographic Analysis
Wednesday 15 April 2009 from 12.00-14.00
CGIS North Building, Room S050, 1737 Cambridge Street

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Our presentation will show how open source GIS and curated “crowdsourcing” can create an infinite archive of places for digital historians and ethnographers. While the importance of space and place to their research has long been acknowledged by social scientists, there remains a wide gap between their theoretical concerns and the data-driven empiricism of GIS. For those without technical or database skills, maps and geodata are mostly commonly to illustrate rather than advance an argument. However the web can render the tacit knowledge of geography implicit in most historical and ethographic narratives available to the scholars in entirely new forms. We will showcase our ongoing work with the Maps Division of the New York Public Library on a web-based Map Rectifier and Digitizer, a platform for scholars and entusiasts to georeference scanned historical maps and digitize historical features of cities and the environment.

SHEKHAR KRISHNAN is a researcher and activist pursuing his doctorate in History and Anthropology of Science Technology & Society (STS) at MIT, where his research on the history of technology and the urban environment in colonial Bombay and western India. He has been a project fellow with Zotero at the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University. With Schuyler Erle, he manages geo-spatial web projects for the New York Public Library and the Network in Canadian History of the Environment (NiCHE). 

SCHUYLER ERLE has been a free and open source software developer, project leader, and evangelist for over a decade. He is a co-author of Mapping Hacks and Google Maps Hacks, both published by O’Reilly Media. He currently lives in New York City, where he leads EntropyFree, a technology consultancy focused on geographic information systems (GIS), natural language processing, academic computing and humanitarian aid.

One Comment

  1. stephen douglas

    good on u shekhar. im v happy my pad and its wonderful surroundings (3500 year old ruined stone city 100 yards away) high in the oldest mountain range in Europe in county sligo has yet to make it onto googlemaps though. Long may that continue.

    Posted on 18-Apr-09 at 3:25 AM | Permalink

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  1. [...] to the ABCD GIS working group at Harvard University. Here’s the abstract from Shekhar’s announcement: [We] show how open source GIS and curated “crowdsourcing” can create an infinite archive of [...]

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