From Space to Place: Place-Based Explorations of Text

  • Purves R
  • Derungs C
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New data sources, for example in the form of geotagged image libraries and digitised archives of historical text documents, provide us with new opportunities for exploring how place is described. Using a framework derived from work in human geography and information science, we illustrate how there is more to place than names and coordinates. Through a set of case studies we explore different aspects of the seemingly trivial query ‘mountains in the Alps’ addressing a range of issues including ambiguity, the use of vernacular names, ways in which concepts such as mountain are used in different locations and by different groups, approaches to automatically generating macro-maps in space and time and, finally, techniques allowing regions to be characterised and compared based on the terms used to describe them. The use of all these methods in combination allows us to come closer to a meaningful representation of place in the sense of human geography within the context of Geographic Information Science. However, our approaches focus on the naming of places and their material or perceivable properties, and there is still much work to do to properly represent place, and particularly sense of place. Nonetheless, we suggest that such approaches have considerable potential for those working in the digital humanities, and especially those concerned with contributing to a spatial turn therein.

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  • Ross S. Purves

  • Curdin Derungs

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