American Panorama is “an historical atlas of the United States for the twenty-first century,” bringing together a variety of geospatial and data visualization methods to create interactive maps of American historical data. Parameters sat down with the editors of the project, Robert K. Nelson and Edward L. Ayers, to talk about their experience with creating Panorama, as well as the journey from early digital history projects—like Ayers’s 1993 The Valley of the Shadow—to current methodologies and the future of digital scholarship.
Robert K. Nelson
Dr. Robert K. Nelson is the director of the Digital Scholarship Lab. His current research uses a text-mining technique called topic modeling to uncover themes and reveal historical patterns in massive amounts of text from the Civil War era. He is currently completing two projects from this research. One is a digital project that will publish and analyze multiple topic models of Civil War-era archives including the Richmond Daily Dispatch and the New York Times. The other is an essay that analyzes these models to produce a comparative analysis of Union and Confederate nationalism and patriotism.