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HyperCities: Todd Presner (founder), project started in 2002

HyperCities is a collaborative research and educational platform for traveling back in time to explore the historical layers of city spaces in an interactive, hypermedia environment. (Home page)

HyperCities is also an experiment about the future of Humanities researches and publications. It was awarded one of the first “digital media and learning” prizes awarded by the MacArthur Foundation/HASTAC. It recently received the Google Digital Humanities Research Award. The video above is a good introduction on how the web interface works and how to use it. However, for a broader overview of what this project means for researches in Humanities, Todd Presner’s paper “HyperCities: A Case Study for the Future of Scholarly Publishing” (CC-BY 3.0) is a must read. Here’s an excerpt:

As a Digital Humanities 2.0 project, HyperCities is a participatory platform featuring collections that pull together digital resources via network links from countless distributed databases. Far from a single container or meta-repository, HyperCities is the connective tissue for a multiplicity of digital mapping projects and archival resources that users curate, present, and publish. What they all have in common is geo-temporal argumentation. All content other than the historical base maps is stored in “Collections” (curated groupings of media objects and interpretive narratives) that are owned and controlled by their creators, but can be made “public” at will, viewed by other users, and edited (if the owner grants such privileges). Media objects can either be stored locally in HyperCities or linked though KML network feeds or web-services; they can, then, permissions permitting, be dragged and dropped from one collection into another user’s collection within HyperCities, making possible a rich sharing, recontextualization, and re-aggregation of digital materials. The original archival collections remain “intact” and the contributing archive can decide whether and how to expose its assets within the HyperCities framework. All collections are displayed in the “Intelli-list,” an intelligently populated list of collections and objects keyed to the spatial and temporal bounding coordinates selected by a user (as a user zooms out temporally or spatially, more collections come into view; as a user zooms in, fewer collections are shown). Collections can be nested (every HyperCities collection can hold one or more collections, ad infinitum) so that a person or group of users can create a large and complex project all within a single “collection.” As intuitively as they use “folders” on any computer desktop, users can open and explore HyperCities Collections that have been made public by their creators. (more HyperCities publications)

About Todd Presner:

Todd Presner is Professor of Germanic Languages, Comparative Literature, and Jewish Studies at the University of California Los Angeles. He is currently co-Director of the UCLA Center for Jewish Studies (with David Myers) and will become the Director of the Center in Spring 2011. He is also the Chair of the proposed Digital Humanities undergraduate minor and graduate certificate program (slated to begin in Winter 2011). His research focuses on European intellectual history, the history of media, visual culture, digital humanities, and cultural geography. (UCLA Department of Germanic Languages)

The “Teheran Election Protests” is an excellent example of the way a “collection” works in HyperCities, and of HyperCities is capable of in general. It was created by a UCLA graduate student:

[…] this HyperCities collection curates the “media history” of the election protests in Iran, beginning on June 13, 2009, and continuing through December. As a series of richly curated maps, the collection geo-locates and chronologically organizes more than 800 YouTube videos, Twitter feeds, Flickr photographs, and other forms of documentation. The result is the largest, day-by-day, hour-by-hour, and sometimes even minute-by-minute web documentation of the election protests in Iran. (read more)

Thanks to Ghislain, over at Etherealisations, for pointing this ressource to me.

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