Multimedia In African History

My research interests are far from mainstream and easily accessible. Before reading our sources for this week, I was reading one of the blogs that I follow called Perspectives on Africa. One of the more recent posts was about a project “Anti-Apartheid in Exile: Alfred Hutchinson’s Road To Ghana”. http://www.vincenthiribarren.com/maps/hutchinson/index.html

This interactive map includes a brief story, portions of an oral account of the journey as well as picture to help you follow the story while situating it geographically.

Another, both created by Vincent Hiribarren, is called ” What do the Names of African Countries Mean?”  http://www.vincenthiribarren.com/maps/afriketymo/index.html 

As I was interacting with the multimedia sources that were the readings for this week, I could not help but be less impressed with the Hutchinson Map as well as the Names of African Countries map in terms of their visual appeal. These are much smaller projects and are not nearly as visually stimulating as “Snow Fall” and “Pine Point”. After being somewhat disappointed that the digital history projects that are interesting to me are almost not worth mentioning in a digital history course, I began to question why. The Hutchinson Map is a historical project that has been researched and is presented in a medium that allows the use of oral history as well as geographic orientation of the story being told. The Names of African Countries project is not a story but the visual representation of this information makes the information more accessible and understandable. The historical value is clear to me, and yet the historical presentation and representation value cedes importance to the value of the appeal of some of these projects. I imagine that the funding given to these projects reflects the public interest that they receive. My critique of these kind of projects such as Snow Fall is that the focus rests primarily on the visual appeal and the ability to entertain rather than the historical significance. The influence of these sites have little, it seems to me, to do with the importance of the story being told as with the visual appeal that it has for its audience. 

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