How did space impact history? and how do digital technologies help scholars answer that question?
Today, scholars use technologies (similar to Google maps) in order to look at how geography relates to the people in a specific region. Using those digital technologies, scholars can look at how space changed overtime and how the society changed within the space. Jenna Hammerich ‘s article on GIS (Geographic Information System) technology provides a few examples of how studying spatial history answers questions like “Why did African American families settle almost exclusively on the near north side of St. Louis in the 1940s?” By looking at the northern area of St. Louis and other neighboring areas, scholars can see how the northern area could have been more convenient to African American families in the 1940’s.
I’m an English major, but I have always loved history, so I thought that this idea of using technology to answer questions relating to history. At least, at first…I started to think of the digital humanities really had a place in answering these questions. Couldn’t scholars answer these kinds of questions without digital technology? Well, Professor Colin Gordon, quoted in Hammerich’s article, answered my question, by saying that answering such questions and making discoveries would be possible without GIS technology, but “It would have taken longer.”
I think that is a reoccurring “theme” within the digital humanities. Scholars can answer questions about history and the humanities without digital technology. But the technology is time and cost effective (and probably fun to use).