The Historic Mapping Congress first met a few years ago with the express purpose of coordinating the efforts of various organizations and individuals interested in finding and mapping historic roads and the important sites they connected. The technological advantage that Geographic Information Systems (GIS) offered were quickly recognized and the group almost immediately took on the challenge of designing a spatial database structure and defining the applications and web services that would access it. The driving philosophy has always been centered on allowing the public to openly input their knowledge through a spatial “crowdsourcing” concept based on interactive maps and the ability to validate those contributions by others. To date, our efforts have produced a geographic data model and many conceptual ways of providing electronic collaboration. With a primary focus on the technology aspects, some of the more traditional collaboration issues may have appeared to be largely unattented. This blog post is an attempt to update the record by explaining each of the many ways our group is already facilitating and promoting the open sharing of historic information through geography. As our motto says, we are “mapping the past, charting our present, guarding the future.”
The work of historians, whether professional or amateur, is often highly focused which can make it difficult to find and collaborate with others seeking similar goals. Through modern social media applications, currently focusing on Facebook while evaluating other forums, we offer the ability to share your specific interests and connect with others who may be able to help you or at least offer you advice. The Facebook “group” is the Historic Mapping Congress and the “newsfeed” there includes links of topics related to old maps (the most recent topics can always be viewed in the right hand frame of this home page with article links available even to those who are not members of Facebook.) Any member of the group may also post comments to the group’s “wall” discussing your topic of interest or listing specific questions you may have in order to help forge appropriate connections. Anyone with a Facebook account and an interest in old maps is encouraged to join by simply pressing the “Like” button on our page. Access is automatic and immediately available.
Some within our congress will have familiarity with GIS software. For those individuals we offer a group on ArcGIS Online to share datasets and webmaps. That group is also named the Historic Mapping Congress and although membership is free and open, the group is monitored so there may be a delay in gaining entry for first-time users. All are welcome to participate though and the “gatekeeping” function is just an administrative step associated with that portal. You can learn more about what is available for GIS users, or hopefully begin to understand the use of this technology if you are not, by visiting the GIS tab of this page. It will develop more and more over time, but already has information about GPS and LiDAR as well as our data model for storing historic geography.
To learn more about the organization behind this community, we are developing a permanent web home for the Historic Mapping Congress to answer basic questions about us and the structure of our community. Eventually we will also provide an interactive mapping website for community (“crowdsourced”) input and community validation of that data. Please stay informed, or better yet, get involved in making it happen.