Digital Project Proposal

For my digital project, I propose taking pictures of memorials around DC and looking at what their locations signify.  How close are they to the National Mall?  What does their distance mean?  When were they created? Why at that particular time?  Using these questions, the point of the map would be to create a timeline of when memorials were built and the significance of their time and place.  This would shed light on the sociopolitical atmosphere of DC in the past century or more.

Having only lived in DC since August, I know the main monuments on and around the National Mall but I feel like there are more memorials scattered throughout DC that I’m unaware of.  Why don’t the monuments further from the Capitol receive as much attention?  Maybe they do and I’m unaware of it but creating an interactive map with all of the memorials would be fun and useful not only for myself but others as well.

The tool I would use to create this map is Viewshare.  For each monument, I would tag the location and include a short paragraph about when it was built, why that time and who proposed the memorial.  I think it would be interesting to see where the ideas for a monument come from and who generally supports them.  Is it common for certain groups of people to create a committee to build a monument? If so, who are they? For example, looking at military/war memorials, are veterans the core group for proposing a memorial or is it people outside of the military?

In looking at the monument’s histories, I would cite the distance between when the memorial was built and time period of the person or event it represents.  For example, how soon was the WWII memorial built after the war ended?  Was there a reason for the delay in building the memorial (if there was)?

While all of this information might be too detailed for this project, perhaps I could focus more on the facts of the monument (date it was built, who initiated the project, time gap between the event/person and memorial) and leave the tags open ended.  By this I mean I could put a question at the end so visitors would take it upon themselves to inquire more about why the memorial was placed where it was, why were time gaps as long or short as they were, etc.  Leaving the paragraphs open ended could be a good way of creating curiosity in visitors when they go to sites.  It is way of promoting critical thinking about history.  It might be possible to create a sort of scavenger hunt.  I don’t know what the prize would be, aside from gaining knowledge (which is always good).  Maybe in the future the map could be used for activities like that.

2 Replies to “Digital Project Proposal”

  1. Great topic and I think it could make for a great Viewshare view. The key step in working with Viewshare is to think about opperationalizing this as a spreadsheet.

    Specifically, it sounds like each row in your spreadsheet is a monument. So now the question is, what are each of the columns? You have a great list to start from . Oh, and you probably want to include a descriptive paragraph, and if there is an image or something associated with each one that would make them a bit more compelling, further, if you have any links to other sites or resources about the monument you might want to include a related link column. A key question is are there other ways to categorize these? This is, of course, all permitting that you can find this data. So there will inevitably be an interplay here between what you can find and what would be ideal.

    For testing purposes, you can use this spreadsheet from the Viewshare site as a template for thinking about what your data might look like.
    http://viewshare.org/media/cms_page_media/11/fairfax_postcards.xls

    When you have an idea on this, I would suggest that you try and get the spreadsheet working for say 3 or 4 of the monuments. Then work through uploading the data and try out building the interface. When you have that little bit of work done you will know a bit more about what is going to be the most valuable data and you can go back and fill in the rest.

    Now, have you thought about how you will come up with your list? For example, Wikipedia has 130 monuments or memorials listed as being in DC http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Monuments_and_memorials_in_Washington,_D.C.
    Similarly NPS has a list of nearly 100 as well:
    http://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/wash/sitelist.htm

    It will probably be best to pick one of these lists, or find some other list, and work from that.

  2. Oh, one other thought, you will probably want to use something like http://www.getlatlon.com/ to get exact lat lon coordinates to put in your spreadsheet. Viewshare can do lookups for you but they won’t really be as precise as what you want.

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