The prefix “hyper” refers to multiplicity and abundance. More than a physical space, a hypercity is a real city overlaid with information networks that document the past, catalyze the present, and project future possibilities. Hypercities are always under construction.
Todd Presner, David Shepard, and Yoh Kawano put digital humanities theory into practice to chart the proliferating cultural records of places around the world. A digital platform transmogrified into a book, it explains the ambitious online project of the same name that maps the historical layers of city spaces in an interactive, hypermedia environment. The authors examine the media archaeology of Google Earth and the cultural–historical meaning of map projections, and explore recent events—the “Arab Spring” and the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster—through social media mapping that incorporates data visualizations, photographic documents, and Twitter streams. A collaboratively authored and designed work, HyperCities includes a “ghost map” of downtown Los Angeles, polyvocal memory maps of LA’s historic Filipinotown, avatar-based explorations of ancient Rome, and hour-by-hour mappings of the Tehran election protests of 2009.
Not a book about maps in the literal sense, HyperCities describes thick mapping: the humanist project of participating and listening that transforms mapping into an ethical undertaking. Ultimately, the digital humanities do not consist merely of computer-based methods for analyzing information. They are a means of integrating scholarship with the world of lived experience, making sense of the past in the layered spaces of the present for the sake of the open future.