For those of you who attended the 2010 GIS fair last November, you heard UCLA’ Dr. Todd Presner speak about his project, Hypercities, and are probably already familiar with what it has to offer. If not, read on.
As described on the GIS fair keynote abstract, “Hypercities is a collaborative digital mapping platform that explores the layered histories of city spaces. Awarded one of the first “digital media and learning” prizes by the MacArthur Foundation/HASTAC in 2008, HyperCities is an interactive, web-based research and teaching environment for authoring and analyzing the cultural, architectural, and urban history of cities.” Using Google Maps and Google Earth, users can go back in time to explore cities of centuries past, analyze how cities change over time, and interact with the maps through social media. The fundamental idea behind HyperCities is that all stories take place somewhere and sometime; they become meaningful when they interact and intersect with other stories.
More information, as well as some “how-to”s can be found at the Hypercities website. To start using this tool, click on “launch Hypercities” at the top. From there, select a city that you would like to explore, and then choose a map from the menu bar at the right. Users can add as many layers of maps as they want, select the opacity for each map, export metadata, and view ‘collections,’ which are projects that other people are working on with those same maps.
It can be a bit clunky at first, but once you get the hang of it it’s a lot of fun to play around with.