All of us here at AU and in this class were alive on September 11, 2001. Not only that, we all have direct firsthand knowledge of the event, whether we lost loved ones or just remember hearing about it on the news for the first time. However, as the years role by, and generations grow up who never remember it, how will history describe 9/11? What will learning about that event look and feel like? In previous times, people went to libraries to read books or hear recordings of radio broadcasts and televised speeches. What will it be for our children?
If they will be using the September 11 Digital Archive, then they will be in good hands. The organization, “funded by a major grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and organized by the American Social History Project at the City University of New York Graduate Center and the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University”, organizes and records stories and facts from 9/11 (Abo 9/11 archive).
What’s so great about this database? What I was struck by was how precisely it was organized. When you go to the front page, go to the top and click on browse. You then go to another page which breaks the available information down into categories like stories, documents, etc. Within these categories, there are further subdivisions, like for stories, which break the information down into categories based on where the stories came from. This preciseness makes finding information a process that is easy because of the way everything flows. It’s quick, efficient and to the point, perfectly suited for the internet age.
That being said, the site isn’t perfect. The fact that some of the same pieces of information appear under the link browse as for the link research seems a little redundant. Also, there is information about flyers that were on the streets of NY during 9/11. It seems meant to capture the mood, but the website puts so much information into the attack rather than setting up what a day in NY would have been like back than that it makes little sense…It seems like something that belongs in an exhibit made years after the attack. But overall, the website is a solid way to record and present information on 9/11 that could serve our children well.
“About the September 11 Digital Archive”, American Social History Project (2004): http://911digitalarchive.org/about/index.php
4 Replies to “9/11 Archive”
This site provides a useful tool for teaching students about the events of Sept. 11, 2001. One aspect of the site that I like are the stories contributed by visitors to this site and the Smithsonian's "Bearing Witness" site and exhibit stories. These are stories about the experiences of survivors of the attack as well as stories about where people were and what they were doing when they heard the news about the attacks. This aspect of the site makes us think, "where were we?" and "what were we doing" when America was attacked much in the way that our parents and grandparents remember "where they were" and "what they were doing" when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
While it does contains a few flaws, this site is overwhelmingly useful for the student, those wanting to learn more about 9/11, or the casual visitor who abhors reliving this moment over and over but is still drawn to the scope and magnitude of the offering. Bonnie makes a good point. The site does make you think where you were – much like the Kennedy assassination in 1963. The stories, documents, and images help us remember.
I was amazed by how appropriate the inter-connected nature of the web museum was. It's an extremely appropriate way to present the information. Thinking back on the day, I experienced it through television, radio and the internet simultaneously. Information overload was a key part of the 9/11 experience, and part of why it was so emotionally exhausting, it never let up. So while it's not interested in putting you in the spot per se, it does capture the cultural sense of 9/11 in a way that an actual brick and mortar museum could not.
Like most of us, I recall 9/11 like yesterday, but I'm encouraged at how well this site preserves that experience for future generations. One thing I've always been impressed by is how each generation does this courtesy to posterity one step further. Literally every piece of information of value about 9/11 will be preserved for posterity. This is truly amazing and unprecedented for an event like this. I can't help but think how much more information there will be about the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 compared to the collapse of the Soviet Union, how much more information there is about that than the Iranian Revolution, and so on. Who knows what courtesies future generations will do to [i]their[/i] posterity?