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Wall 2.0: Should some things be left offline?
Thursday, March 27, 2008
The scrapbooking/archiving site Footnote.com and the National Archives have joined forces to put together an online, interactive version of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, widely known simply as the Wall, AP says.
Every name etched onto the real-world wall is viewable online and linked to the veteran’s service record. Online visitors can add photos and describe their memories of the servicemen and women who died in the war.
Cool and all, but is it really a good thing? It’s the experience of being in the stillness of so many people confronted with the scale and blackness of the Wall, the very physicality of the thing, that makes it such a meaningful experience.
“The memorial is a historical document that obviously is very emotional,” Footnote.com Chief Executive Russ Wilding says. “We want the site to help people come together to remember the veterans who were lost.”
Sure, it’s an adjunct, not a replacement for actually going to the Wall. But I wonder if having the simulacrum, even knowing it’s not intended as any kind of replacement, somehow detracts from the power. Aren’t the names now just so much more data on the Web? Isn’t the Wall itself just one more cool website? Source