I was listening to the BBC this morning and heard a piece about the Eyes on Darfur site, which went live just hours ago, at 8:30am EST. The reporter described the site as an effort to draw attention to the atrocities occurring in the region by posting satellite imagery of villages that are at imminent risk of being attacked. They interviewed a representative from Amnesty International, which is behind the creation of the site, who described the satellite imagery as being able to depict in great detail what is happening on the ground, and provide “unimpeachable evidence” of war crimes and “enabling action by private citizens, policy makers and international courts.”
Upon visiting the site, my first reaction was to the soft colors and rounded edges and generally very slick design – it was somehow jarring and in stark contrast to the site content. But no matter, I wanted to explore the satellite imagery and clicked on the ‘Satellite Evidence‘ link – again, there was just something about the smooth Flash animations and slick graphics that I guess I’ve been so indoctrinated to associate with games and, in the Web 2.0 world, a good user experience, that I really had to force myself to put all that aside and realize the horrible tragedy that the makers of this site have worked so hard depict. But sadly, heartwrenchingly, I found the satellite imagery to be terribly disappointing – if I had seen these images without any supporting descriptions, I’m not sure if I’d had much of an idea of what I was looking at. Is there some feature, some button, that I am not clicking on? I really hope so – the idea of bringing this terrible tragedy to the world’s attention by allowing them to see it up close is a fantastic one – few things are more likely to drive people to take action than seeing something up close – I can only hope that the detailed images described in the BBC segment are there, and that I just didn’t find them.