Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Day 182: Walking through History

Day 182: Walking through History, originally uploaded by susanvg.

At conference end, my colleagues and I went on a walking tour of the monuments on the mall in Washington, DC. The Lincoln Memorial touches me as I remember events associated with it as well as what it represents - more than Lincoln and his efforts to unite his country and emancipate the slaves, but also the role this place has played in terms of continuing that work.
I went to a session this morning by Bernie Dodge, who talked about PuzzlePlaces - a new tool he is developing to encourage the use of maps. This reminded me of an old friend who talked of "The map is not the territory". It is only when we get into the territory that we begin to understand it - we can represent it in a map, but that is only the abstraction of the reality. The territory reveals so much more. Bernie spoke of how compelling uses of Google Maps and Google Earth can help us learn so much more through mashups, making connections to history, geography, literature, to better understand the territory.

Today we walked the territory, with a guide who filled in pieces that made the experience come alive, through stories. Through him, the mall filled with soldiers' tents as they bivouaced there during the civil war; a baseball player stood poised waiting to catch a ball dropped from the Washington Monument, soldiers died as they fought in battles in the Pacific, in Europe and in Viet Nam. And for me, Martin Luther King stood looking over a sea of people and inspired a nation to dream. From that vantage point where he stood, you can see across to the Capitol where, not so long ago, another step was taken on that road to freedom and dignity for all people when Barack Obama was sworn in as president.

History speaks through this place, its stories echo through to all who will listen.

1 comment:

  1. Love the map/territory distinction - It always amazes me how much we can learn from a 'teacher/guide' at such places!