Creating Visualizations

The Neatline Sandbox looks interesting, and like it might have good potential as a visualization tool.  However, I admit to being a bit stumped about using the Sandbox.  Can anyone point me towards a tutorial, which might discuss the different functional tools contained in the Sandbox?  I created a new item, and got to the screen with a picture of the world and several buttons to use, but have so far not been able to generate anything that looks like a visualization.  Any help in that area would be greatly appreciated.

Google Maps proved a bit easier to use.  The tutorial showed me how to use some basic tools in the application, and gave me enough information for me to work with.  I chose an easy routing option, just taking my run route to the WWII Monument on the National Mall.  (Note: I tried to attach my file to this post, but was unsuccessful.  The .kmz format of Google Earth is not something I was able to upload).

Here again, I can see how this is a great tool, but it is one that can only do a few things well.  It does not seem well-suited to a variety of tasks.  Perhaps spending some more time experimenting and learning the tool will produce some more valuable products.

The challenge for me with many of these tools is that they are not as intuitive as I would like them to be.  I have gotten used to IPhone and IPad type applications, which are fairly intuitive and take little time or effort to learn (especially for my technologically-challenged brain!).

Also, I find that knowing what your goals are, and what type of outcome you want to produce, is vitally important to the project.  Without having a clear idea of what I wanted to do, experimentation was challenging at best, debilitating at worst.  Key to success lies in understanding the tools, understanding one’s research, and understanding how to bring both of them together to produce historical research that others (scholars, students or the public) will find easy to use.

3 comments

  1. I too had a great deal of difficultly with this week’s practicum tools. I didn’t have a clear idea in mind, either, so maybe that is why i was struggling so much. But Caitlin made an interesting point on her blog, asking whether visualization is a useful tool for every approach to history (or humanities in general). I’m still trying to figure that one out!

  2. I couldn’t figure out how to point to something in Neatline either, but then I realized that all you have to do is choose one of the three options in the upper left hand corner of the map and then click on your map to create the visual landmark. After choosing one, you then have to press save in the item record window. If you want to add an image or link, use the description field and you can mouse over to bring up tags about want the buttons do. I agree the Google interface seemed much easier to use.

  3. Ditto to the difficulty in experimenting without a clear purpose. I think part of the problem is that you need a rather large amount of data or a number of layers for the map to demonstrate anything. This is reminiscent of a concern presented in last week’s readings on data-mining. Also I found myself learning the most when I was searching for a specific function or capability, so having a project with defined goals would be helpful.

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