Google Fusion Tables


I’m still working on my Stevenson and Oliphant talk for the MLA, and I thought I’d try to map some of the location data that I’ve been collecting for that talk. My friend Mitch Fraas, a Bolinger Fellow here at Penn, has been using fusion tables to look at the geographic distribution of printed books from the records at Van Pelt. Basically, all you have to do is upload the location data as a table to Google Docs and select the visualization that you want. You can embed the visualization directly, or produce a Google Earth view that adds geographic images. I’ve done both below for Smollett’s Humphrey Clinker. The interesting thing about such a visualization is that it helps to highlight the different imaginary spaces of geography. On the one hand, there are the physical locations. On the other, you can use tools like network analysis to figure out how closely associated those places are in the world of the book. (Zoom & click on icons for count. Count number is distinguished by color.)

Locations in Humphry Clinker (1771); Google Fusion Table Map

Differences between geomapping and other location-based visualizations can help to demonstrate how literary networks distort the geographic spaces of the novel. For instance, in the force-directed network graph at the bottom of this earlier post, Edinburgh is closer to England, and Scotland closer to France, due to the close proximity of these locations in terms of their citation in the novel.