Web design and the interpretation of place : a case study in Austin, TX



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This thesis discusses and proposes a design for a new kind of web-based interface for the display of historical interpretation. The design, specifically for the interpretation of the now-demolished Texas Confederate Home for Men in Austin, Texas, uses this site as a case study to explore how original historical research can combine with and inform the design of a hypothetical open and dynamic on-line database of historic properties. The first half discusses the history of the Home's development, highlighting its significance as a relic of 19th century reform movements and social utopianism, while exploring how this relates to its physical isolation from the surrounding urban context. The second half discusses the scope of web-based historical interpretation and some conclusions about the limitations of current solutions. This chapter then discusses and proposes a series of web-based interactive diagrams illustrating the significance of the site's history identified in the previous chapter. The design attempts to bridge two competing desires in historical interpretation: the desire for rigorous yet static curated interpretation and the desire for an open non-curated data management system.