Digital History Presentation: Mapping the Tracks of Serial Killers, Reflection

            When it comes to projects on forensics and crime, there is always the same concern: how do you examine a criminal, without focusing too much on the individual? Including too much information about a criminal, especially a serial killer, can lead to the glorification of the killer. Still, the perpetrator of the crime can inform readers about the nature of or reasons leading up to the incident.

            In my project, I repeatedly ran into this concern. Even when I attempted to limit how often I named the killer, since the project involved examining their killing sprees, the killer had to be included.

            That’s why I decided to start the project by making the website’s landing page about defining geographic profiling. In doing so, I hope the page gives a purpose to the map, which otherwise would be just a series of pins. Furthermore, although I include a short biography about the killers, I tried to limit it to information that would inform the map, such as which incidents were included and why, as trends in the murders and why the trends disprove theories that geographic profiling is based upon. In the map itself, I attempted to focus on the victims, both by provided information as to what happened to them and a profile photo, when possible.

            If I were to continue with this project, I’d want to include more killers to further examine trends. Additionally, I’d like to expand the site to include more information about the forensics behind geographic profiling. Given the timing of this project, I was only able to seek out and include information on four killers, who were chosen due to their prominence in American culture.

            Due to the randomness of the killers who I did choose, I did find it interesting that they did disprove geographic profiling theories to such an extent. Being able to visualize their crimes on a map both pulled the project together, and confirmed my theories surrounding the forensic technique.

            As a result, making the map was probably my favorite part of this project. It remains the main focal point, and the website simply provides additional information to support it.

            The main technical issues that I had with the map, however, was that I was unable to properly embed each individual map. While the main map could be embedded, the individual pins related to an individual could not (or if they could be, I could not figure it out).

            I hope that the full map can be a resource for historians, forensic scientists and those interested in serial killers in general. In promotion, I hope to distribute the map through social media sites, like Twitter and Facebook. If I were to expand the site, I may also create social media handles related to the project. For example, I think that this would be a great opportunity to create a Twitter bot that would share each victim and drive attention to the website.

Anyways, here’s my project: https://tracingthetracksofserialkillers.home.blog/

And here’s my poster presentation (this was also my first time making a poster presentation) :

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