A Digital Gazetteer of North Carolina

UNC School of Information and Library Science, INLS 490-186, Spring 2020

Group project

Due April 23.

The overarching project vision is to create a digital gazetteer of North Carolina. There are a few non-negotiable components of that vision:

  1. It has to involve the collection, compilation and organization of information about places from various sources.

  2. It has to involve the creation and use of a web-based service for looking up information about places.

  3. The implementation of that service must inter-operate with broader systems for news, public services, scholarly communication, cultural memory, public health, self-government, etc.

  4. A corollary of the point above is that it must adhere to emerging social and technical standards for publishing data on the web.

Everyone in the course will necessarily engage with these requirements.

In addition to the design and implementation of the core gazetteer (which we will all work on together) you will work in a smaller group (3–5 people) on a project of your own design.

The project must contribute to or interoperate with the core gazetteer, and it must contribute to the use of some other set of resources related to North Carolina. Beyond that, the specific scope and shape of what you and your group choose to do is quite open.

Some examples of possible projects include:

  • Doing research into the representation of indigenous names in the gazetteer and developing and carrying out a plan to improve it in some manner.

  • Doing research into how the UNC Herbarium uses information about the locations at which specimens were collected, and developing a prototype that builds upon the gazetteer to aid their work.

  • Doing archival research into map collections to produce more detailed histories of the boundaries of administrative places.

  • Reaching out to a specific local community in North Carolina and working with them to produce a place-based information service that meets local needs and is under the control of locals.

The possibilities are endless, but as different as these projects are, all require understanding, discussing and resolving questions about

  1. how to represent places and their relations in nuanced but useful and manageable ways,

  2. what other resources (datasets, collections, literatures, courses, exhibits) might be integrated and interlinked with the gazetteer in useful or pleasurable ways, and

  3. how the gazetteer might beneficially mediate between the different communities around common places.

The deliverables for the group project will depend on the specific nature of the project. After spring break, each group will sign a contract specifying their deliverables and the division of labor.

Each group will give a presentation via Zoom on Thursday, April 23.