I’ve noticed a trend with myself and readings for history courses–I always find one item in the reading that particularly strikes me, and I latch onto it. This week, it was a quote from Brian Sarnacki’s “Spatial History” that hit me. He quotes David Staley as saying, “visualizations cannot be simply an “add on,” but need to be a fundamental part of the research project from the beginning.”
As a side note, I am also taking the history and cartography course this semester, and so these are ideas that I have to tackle myself while working with mapping. Does having a visualization change the research outcome? What does and can a visualization add to a project? Why can’t a visualization serve as an “add-on”–having a visualization and the traditional scholarly methods work as partners? I know that there is a hurdle in learning how to do visualizations and spatial history, but that hurdle also exists for learning how to do traditional scholarly research.
Personally, I see many of these things as new tools for historians to learn, grasp onto, and utilize for the future of doing history. I consider it sort of like a new methodological approach to doing history, much like past shifts in doing history.