A website with a mission to clarify and enlighten its users on the spatial history of the slave revolt in Jamaica that lasted from 1760 to 1761, Slave Revolt in Jamaica, 1760-1761 takes users on a journey to explore an integral part of Jamaican history, and by extension Caribbean history. The main feature of this “online archive” is an animated thematic map which shows the path that the insurrectionists took in their revolt against their European colonizers. This map is accompanied by a written narrative detailing the slaves’ movement from one place to another and all that happened during their attempt to take over. The combination of the visual and the accompanying narrative gives readers greater insight into the strategic approach the insurrectionists took and possibly, hints at what their objectives might have been.
In general, the website has a strong “historical” feel. The color scheme, the font, the graphics, the language and the writing style all lend themselves to this feel; one which I would argue is quite appropriate for the kind of content. I would liken the website to a chapter ripped out of a Jamaican history textbook. The content is very specific and it directly speaks to its primary and secondary target audiences. A person visiting this website must have a vested interest in learning about history. As an online space for learning, it appeals to its students in two ways. The website provides a summary of its historical content in text form and using the maps, provides a more detailed lesson in an interactive form. As an instructor at a professional development institute, I have found that this bi-faceted approach to teaching falls right in line with the principles of adult learning. The content is all based in history so it’s challenging to query what is written unless the reader is an expert in this particular subject. Nonetheless, it is presented in a comprehensive way.
Is the website all I expected? It certainly exceeds my expectations. I did not for one minute think that it would be as engaging. The tabs that appear at the top of the homepage guide the user through navigating in a sequential manner, going from homepage, to a description of the project, the sources from which the information came and the finally to the animated map. With that said however, there are some areas for improvement. Let’s start with the URL – http://revolt.axismaps.com. There is no indication of what the site is about. Yes, it contains the word revolt, however that does little to capture a surfer’s attention. Additionally, the blog section is underdeveloped. The writer seems to still be working out the kinks here. In the interim however, an enthusiastic user may be turned off by this. The blog adds to the interactivity of the website so for it not to be functioning is unfortunate.
I would recommend that a voice over narration replace the written narrative that accompany the map. This would take the website to another level.
I really do like your your suggestion of having audio narration, maybe this was not possible for the curator to accomplish due to the cost. It would be nice though to listen along with the narrative.
The point you raised about the editor motivated me to do a little research on him. I am also now intrigued. In reviewing the website, I preconceived that the editor was Jamaican born. After my research (and I confess, it probably was not as thorough as it needed to be) I didn’t find any evidence that he was. Mmmm … I probably would have reviewed the site from a different perspective if I had this piece of information before hand.
I reviewed the Public Archive which is based on Haiti and I’m excited about a similar Jamaican project. I am also intrigued that the website editor is located in the US. I wonder if he will grow his project by adding on additional writers and researchers? It might serve the site well to have more voices included.
I made sure not to read your review when I saw that we had picked the same website to review, but I’m glad we agree on the addition of audio content! I didn’t think about the URL, however — it’s true that it doesn’t stick out very much, but it seems a little “clumsy”, too, doesn’t it? I mean this in the way that you might not be able to remember it off the top of your head. Perhaps it just has to do with the site host.