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AKDC debuts new data visualization tool: LayerCake

The Aga Khan Documentation Center at MIT has released its prototype of LayerCake, a 3-axis mapping tool that enables users to build maps layering narrative, time, and space simultaneously. Envisioned by AKDC Program Head, Sharon C. Smith, Ph.D., the tool has become a reality thanks to the design and programming expertise of James Yamada (Master in Design Studies, Harvard GSD).

Ali Asgar Alibhai (Ph.D. candidate, Harvard NELC) provided the content for the pilot project by analyzing textual sources of Ibn Jubayr’s 12th century pilgrimage from  Spain to Mecca.  The resulting map documents Ibn Jubayr’s travels temporally, geographically, and with accompanying descriptions of the cities and sites he visited.  Images and information about those cities and sites is linked to Archnet–AKDC’s globally-accessible, intellectual resource focused on architecture, urbanism, environmental and landscape design, visual culture, and conservation issues related to the Muslim world–to provide more context.

While James, Ali, and Sharon continue to develop the tool and refine the interface, we welcome users to view Ibn Jubayr’s travels in LayerCake and provide feedback for this test case.  Please send questions, comments, and suggestions to the project PI, Sharon C. Smith.