Visualizing the Telephone Network in French Indochina (or The Beauty of Boring Books for the Digital Humanities)

Digital Southeast Asia

When historians engage in historical scholarship, I think it is safe to say that they want to “visualize” or “see” the past in one way or another, and there are various techniques that they use to do this.

First, knowledge helps one see the past. The more one knows about the past, the more visible it becomes.

Second, knowing languages also helps one visualize the past. The greater one’s ability to read historical sources in their original form the more one is able to see.

Third, theory can also help. Looking at information from a different theoretical perspective can help one see the past more clearly as well.

Finally, these days the emerging field known as the Digital Humanities (DH) is providing various ways to visualize the past, one of which is by mapping.


These days there are numerous open source (meaning “free”) GIS programs (such as Quantum GIS and…

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