cool tools

Cooperative Cartography

It’s no secret that working in a group can be more difficult and frustrating than working on your own. One valuable opportunity that DH tools offer is an easier mode of cooperation. Such is the case with Crowdmap, a tool for collaborative mapping. The ability for multiple members to input data can result in a fuller map less subject to the risk of inaccuracy than a single author map. What ways could you use this tool to foster productive thought? Would such a tool fit well into the classroom?


Create your own Timeline


Facebook has recently changed their settings to present a person’s personal Facebook page as a timeline, illustrating life events in chronological order as digital information. Wouldn’t it be cool to see Victor Frankenstein’s monster’s life in a timeline!?

Tiki-Toki is an online software that helps its users create a visual timeline of any amount of extended events or even in our case, a timeline of a literary novel. It’s free to sign up and the outcome is beautiful. There’s even a way to make a timeline in 3D and add videos. There’s so many options to visually present information and would be a really cool project for class.


WorldMap: Researching and Creating Online Maps

Harvard University’s WorldMap is a platform developed by the Center for Geographic Analysis (CGA) for scholars who wish to explore, visualize, edit, collaborate with, and publish geospatial information. This is a great tool for historical projects, as well as contemporary eco criticism, studies of urban environments and cosmopolitanism,  as well population studies. Users can track changes over time and make their own visualizations to highlight their work.

Researchers can upload, create and edit maps, share or edit view access, export raw data, use online cartographic tools, georeference, and publish work online. This is just one of many online digital humanities tools that enables a range of new methodological approaches and provides researchers with a fresh supply of data.

Incorporating the Digital and the Text

In the digital age, it’s virtually possible to communicate with almost anyone around the world thus creating a never-ending network of people. For an undergraduate class, I entered data into a software called Gephi that created a visual network/graph, connecting people in ways I would have never guessed. I entered data on character interactions from the novel Tropic of Orange by Karen Tei Yamashita (an incredible book I may add and recommend). After my network was visualized, I was able to understand certain aspects of the novel, for example, just because a character dies, it does not mean that their character dies out of the book. One specific character, who died early on in the book, still had heavy interaction throughout the rest of the novel through other characters thoughts and memories. Here was my network:

Tropic of Orange network image

The characters at the center of the graph are the primary characters. The thicker the connecting line, the more each character interacted with the other.

What would Robinson Crusoe’s network look like?

What would Crusoe’s Pinterest Board look like?

Adeline Koh from “Introducing Digital Humanities Work to Undergraduates” argues that “you and your students are all already digital humanists, because you all use technology in your daily lives.” Although there may be a sharper divide between digital humanists work and just simply using technology, she does make a point that we may be more organically accustom to using DH tools than we are aware of.

Koh gives multiple examples of incorporating DH tools in the classroom for beginners, such as Wordle, Google maps, and Wikipedia.

In addition to these ideas, another engaging activity for undergraduates would be Pinterest. For example, what would Robinson Crusoe’s Pinterest board look like? What would he pin?

Taking this idea a step further; it’s one level of engagement to ask a student to pin things on Pinterest. It’s another to ask them to give adequate explanations or support from the text to help explain why Crusoe would pin certain items.

Works Cited:

Koh, Adeline. 14 Aug 2014. Web. 15 Feb 2016. “Introducing Digital Humanities Work to Undergraduates.”


Storm Clouds and Word Clouds

Ever wish you could create a beautiful visualization of your favorite book? See the most frequent words in a magazine article? Well you can using Wordle, a free online visualization tool. Paste in the text of your choice or link it to a site with an RSS feed and hit go. Check out some of the neat examples on their front page (the featured image for this post is a cloud of the most common crossword answers in the Guardian).

Imagine using this tool to get a sense of the most common weather references in Frankenstein or Robinson Crusoe.

Google Lit Trips

This digital tool allows you to trace the journey of characters in literature on the surface of Google Earth. Pop-up placemarks along the way provide resources such as related media and links to supplementary information. All that’s required is registration on the site and a download of Google Earth. The website also allows you to request Lit Trips that haven’t been created yet. Certainly an intriguing tool for any teacher looking for a new way to visualize narrative for their students.

Woolf Online: Accessing Archives Digitally


Woolf Online is a tool I have used in the past to research and write about Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse. “Woolf Online” allows users to view drafts, notebooks, photographs, and various editions of Woolf’s novel free of charge. It also offers transcriptions for pieces that may be difficult to read, as well as contextual work to provide background for readers (such as pictures of Cornwall).

This project is one of many digital projects that organize and allow access to artifacts and resources otherwise unavailable to most scholars.


Bridging the Gap through Newspapers

As most DHer’s are aware of, there has been a constant debate over how much control computers and the digital world have on innovative learning. Some believe that students should be able to learn without the overwhelming force that the digital world has. Thus, teachers have been creating new ways in which there is a happy marriage between the traditional forms of pedagogy, and the digital.

Instructors such as Mark Sample argue that we need to teach students about writing, research, revising and engagement without using the essay that, in some, does not allow the student to learn everything that they should. Sample urges the notion of “public writing” and “creative analysis” where students post blogs online that contain more than just text (images, sounds, objects, etc.).

In order to move away from the casualness that blog posts typically have, student and/or class newspapers might be the solution. There are multiple websites that offer free templates for newspapers in which users can create their own traditional-looking newspaper and both post it and/or print it for public display. Because blog posts are typically not printed out for public consumption, the newspaper format allows the student to go through the revising, editing, and formatting processes much more seriously, because, once the newspaper is printed and distributed, it cannot be edited like the casual blog post. However, newspapers can still contain images and creative qualities that the former essay cannot. Therefore, the newspaper might just be the bridge that the print and digital world need.

Here are some websites that can be used to create newspapers:

Works Cited:

Sample, Mark L. “What’s Wrong with Writing Essays.” Debates in the Digital Humanities (2012): n. pag. Web. 1 Feb. 2016.

Blog at

Up ↑