QGIS is a open source GIS mapping system that links all kinds of data to geographical coordinates or points on layered maps. The free QGIS program can be downloaded onto most operating systems and has the ability to create and read GIS maps and run installed plugins to enhance the features of the basic program. GIS, or Geographic Information System, is a system used to organize data geographically, using points on a map as tags for specific data, thus linking the data to a certain location on a GIS map. QGIS is a means of creating and reading GIS files.
The program can run and create two different types of graphics to display the data- vector graphics and raster graphics. One simple explanation of the difference between the two is the ability to zoom in or out of a map created using each. When using a map made with vector graphics, the shapes and images on the map are infinitely enlargeable (like images created in Adobe Illustrator), while a map created using raster graphics becomes pixilated when the user zooms in too far (like digital photographs.) The QGIS program has the ability to link data in a database to specific points on a layered grid, whether those points are created using vector or raster graphics.
Although the QGIS tool would be a bit too advanced to use in a digital project in this class, it could prove useful as a literary tool if used correctly. One specific way that QGIS could prove useful would be if incorporated into a work of literature as an interactive guide for the reader (for example, a map of Marlow’s journey in Heart of Darkness, or an interactive guide to the places in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.) The tool would add the most value to a work of literature that included travel and or journeys between and among varied locations.
A second conceivable use for the QGIS tool would be to map important literary locations in a specific city. The GIS file created could contain data about poets and authors who lived in that city (where they lived, where they wrote, where they were buried, etc.) Thus, the GIS file could serve as a guide to bibliophilic tourists when they visited the city mapped, or simply as a manual for locals wishing to know more about the literary history of their region.