LayerCake, a 3-axis mapping tool enabling users to build maps layering narrative, time, and space simultaneously, is currently under development at the Aga Khan Documentation Center at MIT Libraries. In LayerCake, latitude and longitude are mapped on the horizontal axes while time is mapped on the vertical axis. The scale of the time axis is remapped to accommodate the chronological span of items on the map. Users may explore the map by panning, orbiting, and zooming their point of view. They may also click on map items for detailed information.
The prototype of LayerCake documents the hajj of Ibn Jubayr--a twelfth century pilgrim--through an analysis of his Rihla (Travels). Referencing Ibn Jubayr’s text in the left column (by date, place, and chapter), the sites and cities he visited on pilgrimage are displayed as points in geographic and temporal space; wherever possible, cities or sites are linked to Archnet--AKDC’s globally-accessible research portal focused on architecture, urbanism, and material/visual culture of Muslim societies--for context and further exploration. The nature of Ibn Jubayr’s writings allowed the LayerCake development team to add a fourth dimension, the notion of ghurba, or separation, in both physical and emotional states of the traveler including the sense of foreignness, homelessness, loneliness, separation, estrangement, alienation, or being out of place: Ibn Jubayr’s ghurba is revealed through the use of color on this map.
LayerCake will be released as an open source tool and it is our intention that the tool be used by scholars, researchers, and students to tell stories, display collections, and reveal complex temporal and geographic relationships in ways that purely spatial maps cannot.
For more information, comments, or suggestions, please contact the project PI, Sharon C. Smith, Ph.D., at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.