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
If you think anything I write here represents the opinions of anybody but myself, you need more help than I can give you. The opinions are all mine, folks. Nobody else's. ESPECIALLY not my employer's.
If that's too hard to understand... well, I'm sorry. There's only so much I can do. I'm not a therapist, and I'm not a miracle worker. (Unless you consider staying employed in this economy a miracle.) I wish I could help you work through your delusional belief that I'm speaking for anyone else but myself. Honestly, I do. But in the end, that's a monkey you'll have to get off your back on your own. Sorry.