This Week in NDSA: Three Digital Presentations of Not-So Digital Things

This Week in NDSA, vice president Sandi Svoboda discusses a few websites that offer digital related resources.

My Internet browser holds several folders of bookmarks that I re-visit from time to time. One is titled “Digital Journalism,” and it has links to projects, stories, events and archives that I’ve come across in emails or through browsing and want to return for a closer look.

I thought I’d share three of these as they offer three unique approaches to digital presentation on three not-at-all connected topics.

First: the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Macaulay Library. It’s an online library of wildlife sounds and videos, and the design of the pages, the amount of information they contain and the organization is impressive. If you are ever in need of a Western European Hedgehog noise, this is the place, and it comes with scientific information and a map of where the hedgehog was recorded. I particularly like that the “search” icon is binoculars. I found four audio recordings of birds in Michigan, I highly recommend the Trumpeter Swan.


On a more serious note, I also have bookmarked the Gulag History site, a project of the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University. From the homepage, you can access a digital museum dedicated to an understanding of the Soviet gulag system. I wouldn’t recommend accessing it from work – not because it’s not “safe” but because reading the prisoner accounts might take up your afternoon. In my opinion, the site design is a little too bland, but it does let the content stand on its own.


The third site is escapist. It’s Atlas Obscura’s “Obsessively Detailed Map of American Literature’s Most Epic Road Trips.” My criticism is that there could be SO MUCH MORE done here: audio readings of book excerpts (The “Fair Use” provision of copyright would apply for a short section); photos of the places at the time of the book and now, for example. But the information visualization of the routes is user-friendly, colorful and eye-catching and could be used as a model or at least inspiration for maps that accompany a variety of digital material.

It also makes me want to re-trace the three trips that journeyed into Michigan!



About ronnieg

Veronica Grandison is a freelance writer and online project manager. She writes about music and entertainment for various local Detroit publications.

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