Rise and Fall of Power

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This project will look at the power of civilizations throughout history and visualize their rise and fall based on a set of categories to define what Power means.

Because the definition of “power” can change depending on the time period, culture, and people, the power of these civilizations will be based on their influence in:

  • Wealth (Trade, currency value, etc)
  • Military (Strength, amount of units, etc)
  • Science (technology, inventions, etc)
  • Culture (art, architecture, music, etc)
  • Religion (beliefs, Gods, rituals, etc)
  • Health (life expectancy, mortality rates, hygiene, etc)

My idea for this Digital Humanities project is to create a resource to document the rise and fall of civilizations and countries throughout history to see patterns, trends, and to have a visual context for how, why and where they occurred. This could become an incredible resource for academics, teachers, and students, and would help us see connections we may not have noticed before.

There will be an interactive map timeline that can be filtered by year to see highlighted places of power that change, shift, and move over time. You will be able to see the general super powers move and trade based on the success in all categories, and another feature will allow the user to see a civilizations influence individually as well, seeing its own journey through time, and also the ability to filter by category of power to see where competing powers were in those specific fields.

Being able to look at Rome’s timeline of power individually would be incredibly valuable, seeing as it obtained vast amounts of lands and spread far across and beyond the Mediterranean. In addition, it would be valuable to see the creation and spread of religious power, which would track Christianity around the world, and see cults rise and fall.

As well as a map, this project will also use graphics, charts, and other infographics to display the data gathered and input into the system. This would make comparing that much easier.

Another feature of this project will be the ability to look in depth at a specific topic, or a specific civilization. This will allow the user to see basic information about that civilization in that point in time. (Who was the leader, where was the seat of power, how big it was, etc.). You would also be able to look farther into specific about that civilization and their relationship in the categories of power.

An example of this filtering could include looking at Europe and Asia during the 1300’s in the height of the Black Death. Countries such as England and China suffered greatly because of the plague, and so their “ranking” in Health would be dropped considerably because of how many people died and were affected. Another example would be the fall of Egypt, when Cleopatra died during the Roman conquest in 30 BC. In this case, Rome’s power would increase while Egypt’s decreased as it became a Roman province under the new rule.

This will be an incredibly interesting and applicable project when complete, with uses for teachers and academic study to just name two. It will allow people to look at trends from which we can use to predict future power rises and falls. It will provide a visual picture of power through history, and what power meant through it as well.

I will be focusing on the most influential civilizations and superpowers throughout history (perhaps only picking ten, considering time deadlines) and when, how and where they rose into their power and had large amounts of influence.

The first part of this project will be the gathering of information and digitizing it into the computer. Most information about a Civilizations history is already recorded online, so it will not be a difficult job. This will require researching the dates of these civilizations and countries and recording them on a timeline.
After, finding reliable sources to record accomplishments and advancements in each of the ranking categories mentioned above must be gathered, and linked into the project to be accessed.

I believe that this project may be too complex to use the tools available to do all of what I am discussing. At the very least, I do not think this project can be hosted on any ordinary website platform, and will probably have to be built instead. There are lots of tools available however, and I think some of them can help pave the way.

To create an interactive map capable of all of these functions, using a tool such as Open Layers would be helpful. This would allow me to display different data sets at the same time which is important, especially when using the filtering system for different categories and civilizations.

QGIS could be a potential mapping tool, but i think it might be too stiff and would have too many limitations for what I am intending. Going with GeoServer seems to be more flexible and incorporational which would be closer to what this project needs.

To help the visualization of this project, using D3.js would provide a lot of interactive and unique options to display the data in the map, as well as in info-graphics.

I think to fully realize this projects potential, a lot of work would need to be done in the back end. Java script seems like it could be the most helpful tool to code things specifically. Also, JavaScript is used in many other DH tools which would make working together within those platforms easier and more effective.

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