A tweet originally posted by @guykawasaki from @TheJennTafur let us know about a new history initiative that was launched by Emory University and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Voyages: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database is a project that took two years to bring to life online and pulled from data collected since the 1960s. Universities across the globe collaborated to bring as comprehensive a view as possible of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.
The database is really information overload, full of tables, time lines and maps. It is so amazing to me to see so much information about slavery in one place. Often times the history of Africa and the Diaspora is overlooked or forgotten. Even online it is hard to find a comprehensive source on the history of black people from anywhere in the world at any point in time. This really does change that. Now the hope is that people find out about it and take the time to explore and learn. Due to the nature of slavery, most black people will not know the place, time, location or name of their ancestors that were brought over on slave ships. However, being able to go through and looks at all this information still helps in perhaps making some of the holes in our collective history smaller.
Anyway, as I was perusing the site I heard singing. I was going through the section that gives the history of the project and came across the following:
Perhaps most important, the new site would provide an opportunity for researchers everywhere to continue to contribute their discoveries and correct errors in the data that they might find. After a peer-review process any new data or corrections will be added to the core database at three year intervals. It is difficult to think of any international project of preserving and reconstructing history which has depended more on collaboration than Voyages has. It is even harder to think of one that provides a better basis for such collaboration to continue into the future.
Seriously, that brought a tear to my eye. I just wish they could update sooner than once every three years, but that would require a lot of fact checking, so it is understandable.
Please do not miss the part in the title of this that says database, and that is what it is. For the academic me, this is a dream site. For the every day user me, it is a bit confusing simplys because it doesn’t match what they are presenting on the homepage.
Because I have to… what were they thinking with the design!? This is my big disappointment with the whole thing. It looks like something out of 2002 with a bit more dynamic CSS. It is just… ugh. When I first went to the site, I didn’t even know where to start. First, I clicked on the map since it has little bubbles, but that just brings up a text box below. I thought locations would be a nice place to start, but there is no clear place on the front page, apart from those bubbles that lets you start out with a location. So the map is a dead end, but it is the main visual and it is interactive. While it is clear their primary target audience is educators, this has interest to a world community so I would think they would have maybe spent more time on making a user friendly UI. It can still look like a database, just a more inviting one. I also think it might be less confusing if they added a “search the database” option to the homepage so you don’t have to click through to a secondary page to perform a search. I’d also like to see a “how to use this site” section, so the layman can easily browse the amazing data this site has to offer.Category: web 2.0 | Tags: database, slave trade, slave trade database