Post 3: DECIMA Project

My chosen project that I will review is the DECIMA project from the University of Toronto.  It is of Florence Italy from 1561, and maps out the residents of the city by using the data from the tax survey that took place between 1561-62.  This information is displayed onto a contemporary hand drawn map that goes into great detail to show the buildings and streets of Florence.  The tools available within this project are diverse and useful to finding information on many subjects.  For example, it is possible to overlay the path that the plague took when it hit the city, by showing which streets had more infected people.  Another tool is the ability to highlight the churches throughout the city, along with the territorial outlines that they would have been responsible for.

The most important feature of this map however is the data that came directly from the tax surveys.  Each residence in Florence is mapped out so that they can be clicked on individually.  This gives access to information about who owned the building, who lived or payed rent there, how many residents there were, and much more.  All of this information is then searchable by using a glossary which translates the Italian, so that all the occupations can be understood.  Individual occupations can then be searched for, allowing one to see where the members of the occupation lived in Florence and how much they paid to live there.

The visualization of this data is not too complicated, it shows a dot at each house in Florence.  As previously mentioned, these dots are what can be clicked on individually in order to display the information.  When a specific occupation is searched for it will highlight the dots of the people that meet your search parameters.  This is extremely useful for analysing where certain occupations lived in relation to each other and those around them.

(Example of the amount of information)


One of the few negatives of this project is that you can not search backwards.  What I mean by this is you cannot click on a random house and work from there toward seeing the rest of the people of the same occupation.  Though this is not a critical flaw, but more of one that is inconvenient when searching for specific things.  In comparing more than one occupation together it would also be nice to be able to have more than one occupation highlighted on the map at one time.  However, this is again only a problem with convenience, because it is still possible to compare two or more occupations.

Overall, I think that this project successfully does what it sets out to do.  It creates an easy to understand mapping system that provides a variety of specific information.  The ability to get a close and in depth look into the residents of Florence makes this project unique.

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