May 08, 2005
Vietnam Views

I wanted to take a moment to direct your attention to a project that just got launched by my friends at my old company, Forum One Communications, for the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation.

Vietnam Views is a collaborative database of stories from Vietnam vets. The stories are organized by timeline, and by a simple tag-based folksonomy — so stories about, say, the Tet offensive can be connected together.

It’s a great idea, especially now (we just passed the 30th anniversary of the fall of Saigon at the end of April) — to let vets tell their stories in their own voices, rather than having them used as political pawns like they too often have been over these decades.

Could it be made better, though? I think so — because that’s just the kind of contrary cuss I am :-)

One way that jumps out at me would be to apply the data visualization stuff I was going on about in my last post. How? Here’s one idea.

This is a project that cries out for integration with WorldKit. Why? Imagine if, when posting their stories, vets were presented with a map of Vietnam, and they could tag locations on the map as being relevant to their story. Then users could “browse the map” just like they browse the tags — zooming in on, say, Saigon and seeing all the stories clustered around it.

You could then take it a step further — take the map and put a timeline slider next to it, starting in, say, 1959. The map has dots on it for all the stories from that year. Move the slider forward to 1960 and the dots are replaced with the stories from 1960. Scrubbing the slider back and forth, you could use a display like this to pull together all the individual stories into a kind of illustration of the ebb and flow of the war — clustered together in 1963 around Ap Bac, in ‘65 around the Ia Drang Valley, in ‘68 around Khe Sanh and then all the major cities at Tet, and so on.

D’you see the possibilities that creative use of data visualization opens up? This is just one example — and that’s why I’m continually amazed more people aren’t thinking along these lines…

Posted by Jason Lefkowitz at May 08, 2005

in case you aren't aware, worldKit supports time navigation

great idea


Posted by: Mikel on May 9, 2005 3:56 AM

Great ideas. I guess all great minds think alike - we've got grand geographic and time-based datavisualization as definite additions to the site. They're not there now simply because of time to create. The current beta site was developed in less than 1 week. Now that we've got some positive responsive we're going to be working with VVAF to define round two. Anyone with other feature suggestions, please send them along!


Posted by: Kurt on May 9, 2005 9:56 AM
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Ant's Eye View is edited by Jason Lefkowitz, a consultant and Web developer in Alexandria, Virginia. Got a question, comment, or concern? Let me hear it!

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