Evaluating the “Geography of the Post”

When you look at a digital history project, you want to be amazed. You want to be impressed and take some value out of it. Today, I’ll be looking at the Geography of the Post site to see how it measures up according to the Digital Project Evaluation Rubric.

Looking at its content, the site is composed of a map of western U.S.A. in the 19th century and shows the number of post offices established through the years from 1846 to 1902.  At the bottom, the site gives a basic description of the map displayed. The description explains about some of the map’s features. For example, by pressing the “Duration View” button above the map, one can see the lifespans of each post office represented by a light or dark shade of green based on how long its been around. The “Status View” button shows the conditions of every post office in a selected year. Aside from that, there’s not much else in terms of content. While you can look at the names of the post offices on the map and their year of establishment, there is nothing else to look at. It’s a shame that this website is lacking content, since I would have liked to learn more about these 19th century post offices. From what I gathered, it seems they got all of their information from a postal historian. About 29 percent of the post offices are labeled as unmapped, although this is due to the fact that there are some offices that were simply not written down to begin with. In addition, offices that underwent name changes appeared as a brand new office opening, while its old name appeared as closed. To be fair, several of the issues here are not the designer’s fault, but rather, it’s the fact that not everything was documented on the Geographic Names Information Systems cite.

In terms of functionality, the site works well, as it gives a small guide on how to use the map. I like how you can interact with it by adjusting the scale to see how many post offices were open on the selected years. It’s pretty straightforward, overall.

Personally, I liked the aesthetics of this site as the green dots stick out against the black/dark gray background. The site’s layout is simple, and that’s perfectly fine; no need to overcomplicate things.

Unfortunately, since there is very little content, the site doesn’t engage me. I mean, it is interactive but there’s nothing there that’ll keep me interested for more than a few minutes. I like being able to see how much post offices expanded in the 19th century, but I just don’t see the relevance in it. There has to be more of a purpose for showing the public this map.

Overall, the site has potential for more content. It has good aesthetics (at least in my opinion) and has a good layout, but there’s not a lot of content. If I could click on one of the many thousands of green dots to learn more about a specific post office, then that would make the site much more interesting.