Images on the Web

Image Based Search Tools from Europeana

Two image-based search tools are available from Europeana: vieu (European Cultural Heritage Visual Search) and VIRaL (Visual Image Retrieval and Localization).

About vieu:

vieu is a visual image search engine focusing on cultural heritage content. Starting from a random set of images from the available collection, one can invoke a query and get a list of matching images ranked by visual similarity. In the results page, the visual similarity score is dispayed on top of each returned image, along with two basic options. The “details” option shows how the similarity between the image and the query was determined. The “original” option links directly to the source of the original image with all related information. Currently the source of all images is the Europeana portal, where each item is also linked to the content provider. Clicking on each returned image issues a new query.

About VIRaL:

VIRaL is a content-based image search engine. The query is an image, either uploaded, fetched from a given a URL, or chosen from the VIRaL database. Given this single image, it retrieves visually similar images from the database and estimates its location. VIRaL also suggests tags that may be attached to the query image, identifies known landmarks or points of interest, and provides links to relevant Wikipedia articles.

VIRaL also includes two additional functions: VIRaL Explore, which allows browsing of the entire VIRaL image collection on the world map, and VIRaL Routes, which constructs a route on a map showing icons of places visited (after images are processed and grouped with appropriate location information offline). An example of VIRaL Routes is depicted above.



Images on the Web Innovative Technology

Different Views of OpenStreetMaps

Stamen maps allow users to visualize geographical data in three different ways: toner maps (black and white, worldwide), terrain maps (US only), and watercolor maps.

For over a decade, Stamen has been exploring cartography with our clients and in research. These three maps are presented here for your enjoyment and use wherever you display OpenStreetMap data.

OpenStreetMap is a project utilizing the power of collaboration to create wiki-style maps with open geographical data (viewable, usable, editable). Data are gathered from a variety of sources, including individual GPS units, aerial photography, and copyright-free maps.

Via Deep Focus.

American Images on the Web

NYPL Map Warper

NYPL has now scanned nearly all of its public domain New York City atlases… and built a web tool where users both inside and outside the Library can virtually stretch old maps onto a digital model of the world à la Google Maps or OpenStreetMap, thus creating a new copy that is not only aligned with spatial coordinates on the Earth, but normalized across the entire archive of old maps… All of this is done collaboratively, through the piecemeal efforts of staff, volunteers, and interns, a group of roughly 1,500 participants worldwide.

Read more about the project here. To participate, begin by creating an account here and then check out a YouTube tutorial here.

Innovative Technology

Innovative GIS Projects in the Humanities

Below is a list of humanities-related Geographic Information System projects and their potential applications. Do you know of another exciting project to add to the list? Please let us know!

Project list compiled by VRC staff member Helenmary Sheridan.

Google Lit Trips

Developer: Various contributors; Jerome Burg, site editor

Discipline: Literature

(View of the “A Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man” Lit Trip, by David Herring)

(“The Grapes of Wrath” Lit Trip in Google Earth, by Jerome Burg)

What it does: Contributors have mapped the journeys of fictional characters on modern and historical maps supplied by Google in Google Maps and Google Earth. These maps can be saved and shared, along with accompanying text and images that also use Google-supplied tools. Routes can cross a single city or whole continents, and users who have downloaded multiple datasets can compare journeys.

How it does it: Google Maps, Google Earth

What this could be adapted for: This is itself an adaptation of a familiar use of GIS. Similar projects could follow the movement of an artist on the Grand Tour, a specific artwork from collection to collection, or a book from its author to printer to eventual reader.

Mapping the Republic of Letters

Developer: Dan Edelstein and Paula Findlen, Stanford Humanities Center

Discipline: Literature, History

What it does: The Republic of Letters project maps the physical locations of 6,400 correspondents from 1629 to 1824 and the routes of 55,000 letters and documents exchanged among them. A histogram reveals that the 1760s were peak years for the correspondence recorded in the Electronic Enlightenment database; London and Paris were the top cities of correspondence, and Voltaire, Rousseau, and Locke were the top three letter-writers of the entire period (though Voltaire received very few in return.) The map can display connections between correspondents, city-dots by correspondence volume, routes marked according to their traffic frequency, and a writer vs. writer comparison view. Users can also filter the data by correspondent, choosing between sender or receiver. Finally, data periods on the histogram are adjustable, and a play button allows the user to move through time year-by-year.

How it does it: Probably visualization software and staff-developed tools. A much rougher tool along the same lines could be made with ArcGIS, which is used at the University of Chicago.

What this could be adapted for: Correspondence of any time and place, or exchanges of sketches, trade routes, any other documented physical object; which contemporaries authors cite in their manuscripts, the dissemination of news stories, who marries whom in dynastic marriages…

The Map of Early London

Developer: Janelle Jenstad, University of Victoria

Discipline: History/Humanities (English literature)

What it does: Toggle-controlled layers displaying roads, building names, ward boundaries, and other points of interest from the late sixteenth to early seventeenth centuries are built on top of the 1560s Agas map. Querying a site will load information about it in a separate window, either a modern history and description or a transcription from contemporary sources that reference it.

How it does it: The map was built with ka-map, which allows for selectable layers, legends, zooming, and panning. Both the original, non-layered map and the more complicated “experimental” version are several years old.

What this could be adapted for: This sort of map/layer/content setup is ideal for connecting texts or images to specific locations, though probably most useful in a limited geographic context like a city. The Map of Early London points out Shakespeare’s theatres and places important to Renaissance drama, but a similar map could go further and build layers associating printers’ shops with particular writers, grouping contemporary performances together in a layer separate from performances a decade later, or go in a non-theatrical direction and study artist-client relationships within Florence, for example, and the network of tradesmen who supplied the artists.

Digital Atlas of Roman and Medieval Civilization

Developer: Michael McCormick and Guoping Huang, Harvard University

Discipline: Archaeology/History

What it does: The atlas compiles a huge amount of information about Roman and medieval sites throughout Europe, the Near East, and North Africa from archaeology and literature, then presents them in an interface. Cities are color-coded according to certainty about their location, but not sorted according to era or culture; though the user can view overlays of kingdoms at the same time, it’s not possible to drag layers so that one overlays the other. Querying points brings up identification, labels visible only at maximum zoom.

How it does it: ArcGIS, the same software used on the University of Chicago campus.

What this could be adapted for: Any sort of atlas project with various sources of data displayed at once.

The Geography of Art: Imaging the Abstract with GIS

Developer: Jim Coddington, MoMA

Discipline: Art History

What it does: Coddington’s team adapted imaging techniques usually used in GIS to photograph terrain, instead turning it on a Pollock canvas to photograph paint clusters and specific pigments that can be distinguished with multi-spectral imaging. Their results, while preliminary, show that GIS techniques can successfully isolate paint based on texture, pigment, or location, characteristics sometimes invisible to the naked eye or to other imaging techniques. Though Coddington does not discuss this aspect, their integration of GIS imaging and atwork also raises the possibility of treating a canvas itself like a map, placing features of a painting on a sort of coordinate grid and then drawing spatial relationships between them.

How it does it: Multispectral imaging and mosaic software.

What this could be adapted for: The imaging technique is applied here uniquely to art history, but the idea of georeferencing locations on an artwork could be applied to the printed page as an alternative to conventional hypertext. Within art history, underdrawings and a final painting could be distinct layers on a “map” of the artwork, with location labels providing more information on technique or any element of interest. Or, using a Pollock as an example, the georeferenced location of paint globs could lead to a model of the artist’s hand movement.


Images on the Web Medieval

Linguistic Geographies: The Gough Map of Great Britain

A high-resolution, searchable, and zoomable copy of the Gough Map of Great Britain is now available online through the Linguistic Geographies project. The map may be searched by modern or medieval place name and browsed by place alphabetically.

The Gough Map is internationally-renowned as one of the earliest maps to show Britain in a geographically-recognizable form. Yet to date, questions remain of how the map was made, who made it, when and why… This website presents an interactive, searchable edition of the Gough Map, together with contextual material, a blog, and information about the project and the Language of Maps colloquium.

Images on the Web Innovative Technology Photography

See Historical Photographs of Your Neighborhood with WhatWasThere

WhatWasThere is a project based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, which combines GIS data with historic photographs, including many of architecture. Photographs are linked to their location of origin on maps, allowing visitors to the website (or users of the free mobile app) to take a virtual historic tour through cities and neighborhoods. Users may also contribute their own photographs.

The premise is simple: provide a platform where anyone can easily upload a photograph with two straightforward tags to provide context: Location and Year. If enough people upload enough photographs in enough places, together we will weave together a photographic history of the world (or at least any place covered by Google Maps). So wherever you are in the world, take a moment to upload a photograph and contribute to history!

American Exhibitions Images on the Web Museums Renaissance - Baroque

Digital Exhibitions from Newberry Library

Newberry Digital Exhibitions showcases cataloged, digitized materials that have been featured in past Newberry exhibitions. It recreates these exhibitions in digital form so that the information continues to be accessible even though the works have left the physical gallery space.

The newest digitized exhibitions include Illuminated Manuscripts and Printed Books: French Renaissance Gems of the Newberry Library and French Canadians in the Midwest.


American Images on the Web Innovative Technology

PhilaPlace: Explore the City of Neighborhoods


PhilaPlace is an interactive Web site, created by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, that connects stories to places across time in Philadelphia’s neighborhoods. PhilaPlace weaves stories shared by ordinary people of all backgrounds with historical records to present an interpretive picture of the rich history, culture, and architecture of our neighborhoods, past and present. The PhilaPlace Web site uses a multimedia format – including text, pictures, audio and video clips, and podcasts – and allows visitors to map their own stories in place and time.

PhilaPlace creates a dynamic virtual view of a city, browse-able via maps, topics, and collection groupings. For example, clicking on the map view and then selecting “Verbal and Artistic Expression” from the left menu will bring up artistic sites throughout the city, plotted on a map. Click on each point of interest for more information including images.

Images on the Web Innovative Technology

Explore the Beauty of Maps, Old and New

The BBC provides digital tours of “five of the world’s most beautiful old maps,” including a Psalter Map from 1260 which shows the earth as a flat round disc and a satirical map from 1877 depicting Russia as an octopus (above). The same website also features maps of the digital world, including a map of blogging and a map of global data exchange.

Images on the Web Innovative Technology Medieval

Mapping Gothic France

With a database of images, texts, charts and historical maps, Mapping Gothic France lets you explore parallel stories of Gothic architecture and the formation of France in the 12th and 13th centuries, considered in three dimensions: space, time, and narrative.

Via Geospatial Technologies in Education.