On my second long weekend in Abu Dhabi, after I had explored Dubai, I went to a more new area of the UAE – Fujairah. Although, not as big or as popular as the cities on the West coast of the UAE, Fujairah is quite well developed but still has elements from before. Firstly, it is not very densely build yet, although there are a lot of construction sites. This results in more open air areas and thus emphasises the lack of human presence, generally quite common for the UAE. It is very tranquil, especially in contrast with Dubai, and there aren’t many commercial attractions. There are however, a number of historical locations such as forts, museums, archeological sites, and a heritage village.
The reason I went all the way to the other side of the UAE is that I wanted to dig deeper into the life before the oil and the money, when the economy was pearls and air conditioning didn’t exist. Fujairah was so far given me the best insights into that life, for two reasons. The contrasting underdevelopment supported with an influence on history. I visited almost all of the cultural and historical places except for the bullfighting arena. I learned about the people who lived there 7000B.C. or 3000B.C. and how they lived. I saw some of the lives of the pearls, the houses and dresses that people had. Their boats, weapons, and utensils.
In order to perceive the sharp contrast with the near past and to understand about life in the desert and the culture that it creates, I decided to solidify my knowledge about the place. I took out my tourist map that I found at my hotel in Fujairah and decided to make it my canvas for recollection.
I wanted to show to the dynamic between modern style architecture and heritage that exists in Fujairah. I decided to show it in 3d using SketchUp Pro 2017 and some models of buildings I found on the internet specifically in 3dwarehouse. I thank yiorgos for his models.
I created a mosque on my own and edited the rest of the buildings so that they fit on a map. I have chosen only buildings that I have seen and remember as part of my journey, but not everything. The map lacks the concentration of skyscrapers on the East side of the city. I have only put the building of Commerce which is in the beginning of the highline. I have put a famous hotel – Hilton, which resides on the shore and is important location for tourists as the area is populated with a number of hotels. The Fujairah fort is surrounded by the museum and a modern hospital. I have added Al Badiyah Mosque a small, old mosque that is now a tourist attraction and resides North of the center.
SketchUp Pro 2017 is quite had to navigate because unlike Photoshop it doesn’t have layers that allow for separation of all objects. The forms that are inbuilt are limited and details and more complicated structures have to be worked out by hand. Otherwise, it is very simple so easy to get used to, and does a very good job with simple models.
Despite all of this, I feel like the map is missing some objects in order to fully transfer my message of coexistence of the old and the new. I think that the bullfighting arena should be included as a token of incorporation of tradition into modern society. The museum, so old that in itself creates historical interest should also be included. Moreover, on the Eastern side of the city a few more of the modern building should be marked. And lastly, the new mosque Sheikh Zayed, the second biggest mosque in the UAE, represents the integration of traditions in modern society. I am currently working on creating the model itself and I will update it on the map when it is ready.
For me this extended 3d journey into the history of the UAE both in Fujairah and online, has given insight into the modern Emirate culture. It has set, like a history course in Middle school, a base understanding of the changes that a society has faced and is facing in a particular place. This time the place was the UAE and it was completely different from the one that I knew back home, so the lesson has been an important one. I hope you enjoy my map and if there is any interest for any continuation just write me a comment or an email and I will share the file.
In my post about crowdsourcing I mentioned a digitisation project we worked on as a class. We made a accounts in the site 18th Connect, and together we digitised Memoir of a chart of the east coast of Arabia 1764. This manuscript is a telling of a journey and description of an old map. To access the site one need to create an account and password and can immediately start editing any text that is available in the site.
This manuscript, written back in 1764 is read through an OCR, in particular TypeWriter. The text is read and then an editor, like me and my classmates, has access to every line that is identified by the software. This includes many mistakenly read ink spots, paper folds and others, which should be removed from being included as data. There are also mistakes when it comes to the spelling of the words and sometimes letters that are hard to read. This is the first level of editing that we had to do. Many other additions to the text and its metadata followed. As my final project I decided to finalise the document and prepare it for online publication.
In the following paragraphs I will describe the process, some problems and some solutions and generally refection on the making of such publication.
Turning the Memoir into a TEI XLM file requires many additions to the original text and correcting the OCR’s mistakes. This format is associated with some specific tags, similar to those in HTML, but more literature specific. In order to add more information about the specific layout of the text, the fonts, the character’s size, purpose, I started using the TEI Guidelines. They are very complex because they deal with texts in enormous detail. There are notations of verse structures, rhymes, play structure, character information and many many others. There are tags that give incredible amounts of metadata about the information put in the text. In order to properly annotated a text in this manner one must know the specific tags, similar to learning a program language. I am very incompetent when it comes to the many functions of the language, so my current edition of the Memoir isn’t very profound in metadata. However, diving into the depths of TEI showed me how much there is to learn and what precision of information one can achieve. I found that TEI is not a very popular language outside the limited interest in Digital Humanities. I also noticed that many of the examples in the site are given with logograms, which suggests involvement from far East countries.
Thought the whole text there is a spelling specify that comes from the difference in the age of the English language. Often instead of “f” or “s” the author would be put the long “s” according to the spelling back then. In order to provide accurate “translation”, editors have to change the old letter with the new equivalent to keep the meaning. There are sometimes just spelling mistakes where the OCR couldn’t read the text because of a blur and we had to correct them as well. These were minor things that were fixed a couple of days after we started. There were many symbols such as pictograms of anchors, degree notations and fractions that aren’t traditionally included into a keyboard. Those are initially noted with “@“ and later replaced with the right symbol using the functions in TEI Guidelines.
Punctuation and emphasis like italics, bold, and underline are manually imputed correspond to the text. This task first requires a closer look to the text and its meaning. Putting different character descriptive tags provides a further reading from the editor’s side. The process happens attentively first in order to copy the text and second to transfer the meaning correctly. Here the editor has some freedom of interpretation but mostly the obligation to fully transfer the author’s intent. The same goes concerning page layouts. They should be inputed in order for the original arrangement to be kept even in digital format, so that it can be recreated as well. These minor but important additions relate to the topography of the text. With time understanding and interpretations change, so keeping as much as possible from the intended is important. The software, TypeWrite, keeps track of all changes that are made to each line with username, time and change made. This information is valuable and it kept in the XML file, because it is very influential to meaning of the text.
I have used the tag “hi rent=“italics”/“bold”/etc” to mark text. The location of certain pieces of text I have marked with “hi rent=“center”/“right”/“left”” . These tags are specific to TEI, however I have used other tags such as marking a paragraph “p” that are typical for HTML but are used in TypeWrite as well. In all of these small insertions that the editor makes can be made mistakes. Or at least there are enough different ways for them to be written that differences may occur. For example, I know that not all commas that follow an italicised piece are italicised. Sometimes I would put the closing tag “/hi” before an additional comma because I haven’t seen it. There are many minor variations like these that come either from the inconsistency of one editor or between many with different styles. Also I would add that even in this text I don’t think I have manages to capture quite all of the elements on the page. There are lists, different indentations and stories within stories that I haven’t marked. This is partly because I don’t feel very comfortable using all of the TEI notations and partly because it requires a lot of time and screen staring.
Once having transcribed the text and all of the information contained within the page, the editor can add annotations, comments, footnotes, and any type of tag to provide additional interpretations. In my edition of the Memoir I have not completed this phase. My interactions with the text end with the input of the actual information.
However, from here one starts academic interest and need for more precise knowledge in TEI. The map can be described in great detail as there are some repeating characters such as Captain Smith, and there are many locations. I think that given the nature of the text – a distribution of an old map and a memoir of a traveler – it would be very appropriate so someone to georeference the locations and see if the distance estimates are correct. As we noticed during the GIS day the coasts around the Arab peninsula change often and it would be interesting to see the changes from 300 years ago. Moreover, there are instances of interaction with groups living near the coasts. There are lists of stocks, plans for trip provisions, and accounts of valuables that the Captain has encountered.
The user interface of the site 18thConnect cannot be left without a comment, because in such crowdsourcing initiatives the experience for the user is very important. The site doesn’t look too welcoming from the home page, but the bigger issues appear when editing starts. The portion of the original text that is seen is very small, which would make sense if this space was attributed for editing purposes instead. But it isn’t. The OCRed text appears in a very small box below the original, which is not very easy to navigate with a mouse as you have to click on the next line in order to start editing it. The problem is that the given shortcut controls for movement between the lines, insertion or lines, deletion and submission don’t work properly. Most of the times I have used them the site doesn’t respond and even after clicking the “Insert line” button the page doesn’t refresh and no result shows. Not to mention that if you are using iOS the shortcut commands are completely inaccurate.
That doesn’t aim to discourage you from editing text, it is just a note to the creators. There is a certain satisfaction of contribution to the world that I associate with this finished digitalisation and with others I have completed. Although small, it is a lasting impact that one can make in the world, which will be recorded in the metadata of the work to be remembered as long as it exists. I think it is fulfilling for people to spend sometime on a text, because it triggers both internal and external change.
NOTE: To anyone interested in this particular text I should mention that I know of at least to instances where something must be added, but I am unable to do so.
Top of page 8 needs to have a line with: “hi rent=“center” (2)”/hi” added.
On 9 page, line 23: a Boat “founded” or “sounded”?
Add a table on page 4
AND Professor Wrisley in his course https://wp.nyu.edu/ahcad139/
Maps are a representation of reality that are intense in information. You can see where and even when (?) things were and are.
When connecting two maps one observes the differences on the them. Often, the emphasis on a maps can range from detailed buildings to depiction of nature – water and topography, which allows you to understand:
1. About the aim of the map
2. Evaluate the accuracy of the map
3. Learn about the long term changes (in UAE’s case the changing coast) and so about the ecological impact of the development.
There is another way to use mapping out: in cases where you have addresses and information about the place. For example in NYUAD’s Akkasah Archive there is a large collection of photos with dates, locations and names – metadata – of photos of the Middle East: Egyptian, Emirati (possibly),Turkish Photo Studios and sometimes personal cameras. When you locate visually, in space the information from these pictures you can learn:
1. The locations are connected with the types of neighbourhoods.
2. Learn about people’s life: clothing, style, likes,
3. [A personal favourite] Individuals. Pictures paint a frame of a life and sometimes they can tell great stories. If it be a very open Egyptian lady on many photos or tourists who had pictures of the Olympics in 1963 and Hitler.
So developing maps of information that corresponds to actual space is another dimension of certain data. And I find it quite useful. For two reasons – it requires easy interactions with maps (which you learn) and allows me to understand the underlying conditions when making a map and using it to interpret information as it is what is depicted on the map that will be of importance.
In the mean time, I found myself having kept a number of maps of similar kind – tourist maps. As I travel around I realised that the only people who would possibly make any use of a paper map are the tourists. Because I know that I wouldn’t use one in my own city, although we also have these tourist maps, I know that there is something fundamentally wrong with these maps when it’s your own town. You care more about banks, about street names and numbers, and none of these cutely drawn cafes doesn’t have what you need.
However, I have found myself a tourist many times and each time those tiny, cute maps have been somehow useful because they have allowed me to study the interesting parts of the area so I can easily recall it and imagine it. When I come back to a city I just recognise the tourist attractions and destinations, and am able to estimate my location and orient around. For this I admire the people who choose which things to depict for doing it so well that I learned from it. This is the art of making maps; they are accurate representations of where we are or were that contain much more information. Showing information in the context that is desired by their use, which helps to then read it. Maps can show real scale of places and people.
In a Ted Talk Danny Dorling uses maps and the data which they represented to show a bigger picture, which we often lose from sight behind all of the bad news. Everything is going well for the Earth, a balance is being established in the population, governments are controlling pollution (especially in more dirty areas – Japan, USA), more and more people are getting educated and caring about Nature. We have enough income of food for everyone [I don’t know his views on diets] if we decrease the amount of meat we eat.
Maps represent more than we can actively see so they seem authoritative pieces of big truth [about big things “out there”]. But maps are someone’s interpretation of spacial information and the truth is arbitrary to the purpose of the map. They are not necessarily real as in “out there”; if Abu Dhabi was as big as shown on an map for a local bank had showed, nothing of such scale would be possible for the city. But they represent the things that are “out there” through a certain prism of need. And depending on the needs can be used for different marketing and targeting strategies, instead of spacial orientation. They are institutionally or personally motivated.