Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Transportation Futuristics

This online exhibit of Transportation Futuristics is meant to accompany the installation in the McLaughlin-O'Brien Breezeway on the UC Berkeley campus. The exhibit offers no explanation for what the installation in the breezeway contains or even where the building is or what it is used for. Presumably someone at Berkley has created this exhibit, but they never state that on the site.
The collection consists of pictures of various forms of transportation that were suggested for development at different times but were not actually ever made. The site suggests that the collection is meant to examine the various forms of transportation that have been imagined as well as why they were thought of and even what kept them from being successful. The exhibit is finished and it does not appear that they have any intention of doing anything new with it anytime soon.
The exhibit is designed solely for browsing, and it has no search functions. Visitors must choose between 11 categories and from there can click through that part of the collection one item at a time. For example a person interested in futuristic maritime transportation would select the maritime gallery, but beyond that they are limited to viewing the items individually in the order specified. Users interested in futuristic maritime transportation from the 1940s are forced to click through to find the information they are seeking.
Each item consists of an image and a short explanation, along with the information about where the image came from, sometimes even including the call number of the book it can be found in. While this metadata is helpful, it does not answer all the questions that a user might have about the individual images.
It seems that the exhibit was created for a person with a casual interest in transportation futuristics rather than someone doing actual research on the topic.

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