ICC Programming

Digital Humanities

6705.4 - Digitising Patterns of Power – Cartographic Communication for Digital Humanities

Thursday, July 6
5:10 PM - 5:30 PM
Location: Virginia C

Perception, depiction and organisation of spaces and places in the European Middle Ages encompass an interdisciplinary research field that helps to understand historical processes and relations within the medieval period. The representation of space in medieval texts, the appropriation of land and the subsequent installation of new structures of power are central research topics of the project “Digitising Patterns of Power” (DPP). The project focuses on three regional case studies: the Eastern Alps and the Morava-Thaya region, the historical region of Macedonia, and historical Southern Armenia.
DPP is a multidisciplinary project, conducted by the Austrian Academy of Sciences the Institute for Medieval Research (IMAFO) in cooperation with the University of Vienna, Department of Geography and Regional Research. It is part of an initiative to promote digital humanities research in Austria. DPP brings together expertise from historical and archaeological research as well as cartography and geocommunication to explore medieval geographies. By incorporating digital cartographic expertise, relevant facts can be depicted in a more effective visual form. The communication of space, time and spatial interconnectivity is an essential aspect of DPP. Optimal cartographic visualisation of base data as well as the historical and archaeological information in an interactive map-based online platform are important features.
To communicate specialised content such as historical landscapes, custom created base maps as well as advanced functionalities are required. A variety of aspects of geocommunication that are being investigated within DPP are based upon these requirements. Specific base maps are being integrated, as well as human interaction interfaces with the database. Concepts for the development of base maps in remote areas as well as the representation of spatial uncertainties inherent in historical data have to be created and embedded within the project framework.

However, the multidisciplinary of the project presents the participants with various challenges. The different involved disciplines, among them cartography, archaeology and history each have their own approaches to relevant aspects of geography and geocommunication. Different concepts of data structure and data categories exist, arising from the desire to not only represent objects in space, but also to define their functions and complex relations to non-spatial entities. Ambiguous categories and changes over time further complicate matters. The underlying concepts of space and its classification differ from the way cartographers conceptualise geographical space. Events and sources are important categories, the structure of the current landscape on the other hand is less important. Therefore, historians and archaeologist have other requirements of the base map than scholars or scientist dealing with recent or contemporary landscapes.
Furthermore, a large amount of the historical data has a great uncertainty. Not only is there thematic uncertainty, but also spatial uncertainty and undetermined locations. This provides further challenges when visualising historical data on a map.
This paper treats geocommunication characteristics and approaches to interactive mapping in a historical and archaeological context within a multidisciplinary project environment. The fundamental challenges of cartographic communication within DPP will be presented. Furthermore, recent results on the communication of historical topographic, as well as uncertain thematic content will be demonstrated.

Alexander Pucher

Senior Scientist
University of Vienna, Departement of Geography and Regional Research

Dr. Alexander Pucher is a long-term scientist and lecturer at the University of Vienna, Department of Geography and Regional Research. His major interests lie in usability issues of cartographic projects, Web-mapping and recent developments in geographic information science, such as crowdsourcing and collaborative mapping. He is active member of various national and international cartographic organizations.


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Karel Kriz

Assit. Professor
University of Vienna, Department of Geography and Regional Research

Professor for Cartography and Geoinformation Science at the University of Vienna, Austria. Currently working at the Department of Geography and Regional Research. Lecturer for Cartography and GIS, at the University of Vienna, Editor in Chief together with W. Kainz and A. Riedl of the "Wiener Schriften zur Geographie und Kartographie", Editorial Board member of the Cartographic Journal and Series Lecture Notes in Geoinformation and Cartography, past chair of the ICA Commission on Mountain Cartography. Main areas of research lie in cartographic design, web-based cartography, GIScience and thematic aspects of mountain cartography.


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Markus Breier

research assistant
University of Vienna, Department of Geography and Regional Research

Mag. rer. nat in cartography and geographical information science, is project assistant and lecturer at the University of Vienna at the Department of Geography and Regional Research. His main research field is the application of geographical information systems in historical research. This includes the use of methods of spatial analyses as well as using cartography and geo communication to visualize the spatial aspects of the research results. The visualisation of historical places and spaces in interactive maps is also of special interest to his research.


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John Kostelnick

Associate Professor
Illinois State University

John Kostelnick is an Associate Professor of Geography and Director of GEOMAP at Illinois State University in the United States of America. His research interests include geovisualization, cartographic symbolization and design, crisis and humanitarian relief mapping, and cultural mapping.


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6705.4 - Digitising Patterns of Power – Cartographic Communication for Digital Humanities


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