As we have gone along this semester we have read, observed, and participated with various public humanities projects. The common theme that has been echoed is how does the information get to the public and how involved are they in the process? What I really like about Historypin is that it involves the public more than some of the other projects we’ve read about or participated in. It allows users to add information, photos, videos, etc to the site. It allows viewers to see, actually see, change over time. I think that this helps to bring history and the humanities alive to people in a way that reading someone’s story or even looking at one artifact can have. People can relate this change to areas and places that they know. They can see the progression and changes over time, depending of course if there are multiple photos of one’s area. I think that the site and the idea behind it are phenomenal. It allows people to visualize concepts that they usually just read about. To me, this makes a real and personal connection with users. It reminds me in a way of the Images of America Series books you find at places like Barnes and Noble about your town’s history.
These books are fun and interesting to read and look through because readers get a sense of their own local history. Historypin takes this concept and makes it interactive and allows users to see those old photos along with present day photos. It also allows users to read about personal experiences from those who live in their community. I love how engaging the site is. Working with it is, for the most part, easy and straightforward. My only complaint is that it was a little glitchy at times which can make using the site frustrating. If you can tough it out and persevere it’s a wonderful experience. Plus seeing what you’ve added and comparing photos is quite rewarding.
The readings on mapping were all very interesting to me, for basically the same reason that Historypin was interesting. I love the idea of giving readers and researchers a visual to what they are reading. In my opinion, it helps readers notice patterns of behavior as well as get a better understanding of location. Using maps or actually doing mapping for research purposes can be an enormous help. Just as Historypin allows users to see changes over time, mapping allows researchers to see patterns. The first thing that came into mind while reading these articles was when I did my undergrad research on Jack the Ripper. I didn’t use mapping while doing my research, but by going back and forth over facts I noticed patterns emerge. Had I drawn out the comings and goings of the victims I would have seen patterns quicker, or even noticed more of them. What I did notice by going back over facts constantly was that each victim lived in the same doss house shortly before their death. While I don’t think the case will ever be solved, noticing how each victim’s life overlapped with another was interesting. It could possibly lead to new suspects. The visualization of information and patterns is a helpful tool when performing research. It also allows readers to connect with the material on a new level. I found the mapping concept interesting and feel as though it has given me a whole new tool to explore information with.