We received a 2-year National Endowment for the Humanities grant in 2010 to develop new approaches and tools to enhance the use of spatial data in the humanities. Our goal for this project is to create an innovative product and initiate a developmental platform for the visualization and exploration of complex data within a humanities-focused web GIS.
The initial focus is to use the North American Religion Atlas (NARA) website as an open-source product and expand the ease of use and the power of NARA through the development of new tools and methods to work with complex spatial data. At the completion of the project in spring of 2013, NARA will become the Digital Atlas of American Religion (DAAR), providing tools that will allow scholars to categorize data on the fly and visualize it in a variety of different ways, from traditional mapping to tree maps, cartograms, and other advanced methods.
We will also present ways for humanists to examine the diversity of the human experience at varying scales and with multi dimensions. For studies using data from the US census, voting statistics, or any other spatially-referenced data, the tools permit researchers to group and map categories easily and in new ways or to aggregate data by scholar-defined classifications. Overcoming current limitations of GIS can make maps more complex, more visually dynamic, and more easily interpreted.
Results of our project will be made public in a variety of forms, including but not limited to books, articles, presentations, and workshops (actual and virtual).