Monday, November 13, 2006

 

GIS

I browsed the David Rumsey site for this week and really enjoyed it. I would recommend the site to anyine with the least interest in historical maps. A word of warning: do not go to this site if you have other work due soon.

Because of, yet another, foible of my computer (not allowing pop-ups) I could not access the collection using the insight Browser option. After this initially discouraging start, lightly peppered with my cries of 'why won't you work!?', I moved on to the other options. The Collection Ticker was what I settled on. I commend those who structured the layout and operation of this approach.

The collection pans past slowly in a single line from right to left. The speed is sufficiently slow that you can eyeball the maps easily before they pass from the screen; for those who need/want more time to peruse, a pause button is easily accessible. If you would like to know the maps title/content a simple hover of the mouse displays the information clearly. I chose to leave the mouse icon on the middle of the screen, therefore as thumbnails of the maps panned by each title was listed. The reverse option is also very helpful. Also noteworthy is the inclusion of pictures/digital images of the covers of atlases and cartographic documents.

After multiple downloads I was finally looking at the map of New York City that I was interested in. The colour delineation was surprisingly clear; I have sometimes found that seemingly small issues like colour selection are overlooked in such large projects. Tools such as the one for measuring distance were easy to use but others were less applicable, or perhaps I used them improperly. A button or link for a tutorial explaining the possible manipulations and options would have been helpful. I think that perhaps this site is more important as a demonstration of future rather than realized potential for GIS and historical studies.

The site is not universally positive. I was discouraged by the repeated downloads necessary to view the maps -although understandable instructions were generally provided. Also, a search option would dramatically increase the usefulness of the site for research purposes especially.

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