The Spatial Humanities


The digital humanities is the broad knowledge area created by the intersection computer science and the humanities. Digital humanities includes everything from the use of motion capture to record and study dance to cultural analytics (data mining large cultural data sets). The field uses digital media in combination with the methods of old school humanities like art, archeology, cultural studies, history, linguistics, literature, music, and philosophy with computational tools for analysis, data mining, visualization, and statistics.

The subset of the digital humanities focusing on the use of geospatial technologies is the spatial humanities. In “The Spatial Humanities: GIS and the Future of Humanities Scholarship” the authors state:

“Geographic information systems (GIS) have spurred a renewed interest in the influence of geographical space on human behavior and cultural development. Ideally GIS enables humanities scholars to discover relationships of memory, artifact, and experience that exist in a particular place and across time. Although successfully used by other disciplines, efforts by humanists to apply GIS and the spatial analytic method in their studies have been limited and halting. The spatial humanities aims to re-orient—and perhaps revolutionize—humanities scholarship by critically engaging the technology and specifically directing it to the subject matter of the humanities. To this end, the contributors explore the potential of spatial methods such as text-based geographical analysis, multimedia GIS, animated maps, deep contingency, deep mapping, and the geo-spatial semantic web.”

The spatial humanities can be as simple as an animated history of place:

To Rome Reborn an interactive 3D model of the city of Rome circa 320 A.D. built by Past Perfect Productions and licensed by Past4Ward, LLC. The company plans to market this and other historical products to K-12 school students featuring game play similar to a Massive Multiplayer Online (MMO) titles as well as other virtual immersion techniques tailored to curriculum standards in order to supplement text books and class discussion.

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Where are the GISPs?


The Geographic Information Systsem Professional (GISP) Certification is awarded by the GIS Certification Institute (GISCI). More and more geospatial jobs seem to be preferring candidates with this certification.

You can view our distribution at the 2012 GISCI Poster Competition. Lastly,  here is the trend line of job postings including the term “GISP” on Indeed.

Developing Job Skills from the GIS&T BoK: Part 3


This is the 3nd post on developing job skills from the GIS&T BoK. Other posts on this topic:
1. Developing Job Skills from the GIS&T BoK: Part 1
2. Developing Job Skills from the GIS&T BoK: Part 2
3. Developing Job Skills from the GIS&T BoK: Part 3

This is the last post on developing job skills from the Geographic Information Science & Technology Body of Knowledge. The two images below are the final matrices for Geospatial Technicians and Scientists here you will see three additional knowledge area that are not geospatial but are considered important for all technicians and scientists at my agency. You will notice that geospatial technicians are evaluated on four knowledge areas while scientists have the additional Institutional and Organizational knowledge area.

How it works: Find a position  of interest by reading across then read down the column, the the numbers correspond to the levels in the job skill knowledge areas previously posted. You will have to open them up (below) to read them. They are too verbose for me to retweet.

Example: Supervisor (Supv)
8+ Years of experience
Design Aspects & Data Modeling (3 – Extensive Experience)
Cartography & Visualization 
(4 – Subject Matter Depth & Breath)
Analytical Methods (3 – Extensive Experience)
Geospatial Data (4 – Subject Matter Depth & Breath)
Organizational & Institutional (4 – Subject Matter Depth & Breath)


Keyword Searches in a Geospatial Data Library (with Video)


This is the 3rd post on building a geospatial data library. Other posts on this topic:

1. Structured Searches in a Geospatial Data Library (with Video)
2. Keyword Searches in a Geospatial Data Library (with Video)

In this video I showcase the keyword search functions of the Geospatial Data Library. As with structured searches keyword searches are extremely fast because we are loading a verbose text string with all the pertinent information directly into memory. We can search using the name of the geographic feature, geography, sources, dates, and other discriminators.

In future posts I will be building a MS Access database to support the loading and discovery of geospatial data.

Structured Searches in a Geospatial Data Library (with Video)

This is the 2nd post on building a geospatial data library. Other posts on this topic:

1. Structured Searches in a Geospatial Data Library (with Video)
2. Keyword Searches in a Geospatial Data Library (with Video)

So to recap…

We run into problems when we try to implement any naming conventions on source data:

  • More than likely you will run into system imposed limits on the length of the name. For example SDE Feature Classes in ORACLE can be no longer than 38 characters including the instance name.
  • Usually, source names are not user friendly and trying to find a particular one from a list of 800 or more can test anyones patience especially if you are not a GIS professional.
  • Once a source has been named it is very difficult to rename. Customers will quickly link applications and maps thus modifying a source name become a destabilizing event.

The solution to these issues is to implement standards in a look-up table rather than directly on the source data. In principal, such a system would consist of a parent table containing source information (SDE, services, layers, shapes, covers, etc…) and a daughter table containing your classification schema. A graphical user interface would then provide users with access to the information in the daughter table while a backend uses the parent table to retrieve the data.

The image below is of a geospatial data library my unit implemented at SFWMD. The system was written in C# as an extension to ArcMap. In the video the structured searches are occuring through the daughter table.