An increasing number of scholarsespecially those in interdisciplinary fields such as urban historyare creating original multimedia works that include graphics, sound, and other elements that are impossible or cost-prohibitive to publish in paper form. More profoundly, the digital medium opens up possibilities to structure works of original scholarship in new ways, not limited to the linear narrative of a traditional journal article. Multimedia articles provide authors with the opportunity to analyze, interpret, and present maps, photographs and other materials that are especially helpful for the study of urban places.
(1) One example is Simple Viewer, a free and downloadable Adobe Flash program (.swf file) with a plain text file (.xml file) that the author can edit this document to point the flash viewer to her/his images, and type in captions to those images. With a few simple edits, the Simple Viewer can be published (with all permission and IP issues resolved before-hand, and listed in the captions).
(2) Another example is to promote the use of Google Maps/Google Earth. Users with no experience in multimedia or web authoring can quickly create interactive maps at any scale, including textual and visual data. These online maps can be easily exchanged with the KML (.kml file) that is created by Google Maps/Google Earth. Such simple companions could be distributed as a link to the online version of the artile, which would deliver the very small .kml file, and launch Google Earth on the users desktop computer. The only technical requirement would be for the user to have Google Earth plug-in installed.
(3) A third potential example is HyperCities, which is a collaborative research and publishing platform built atop Google Earth/Google Maps. HyperCities can host both a simple online companion, and also the larger and more complex Multimedia Companions. Thus, any KML file produced as per (2) above, for Google Earth, can also be loaded and permanently published through HyperCities, which keeps it in the context of other urban research and archives-based HyperCities Collections. HyperCities made its debut in the Transnatinoal Urbanism in the Americas Multimedia Companion to 36:2 (August 2009), released in January 2010: