Last week I had a chance to accompany several Footnote.com managers and software developers as they conducted in-home and in-office usability sessions with a number of readers of this newsletter. One of the new services they tested was Footnote’s new “Viet Nam Wall” image. It was an unannounced product at that time, but that changed today at a press conference at the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, D.C. The Interactive Viet Nam Veterans Memorial is now visible to everyone at no charge on www.footnote.com.
I’d suggest that you take a look at the Interactive Viet Nam Veterans Memorial, even if you did not have friends or relatives who died in that war. First of all, it is a very moving experience for any American as we can see the names of all those who died during the war. Second, it is a technological marvel: at five gigapixels, it may be the largest single graphic image ever placed on the Internet. Yet you can view sections and search for names by using any Windows or Macintosh computer. The image even works on dial-up connections although perhaps not at a speed that you would want to live with.
Footnote.com hired a photographer known for his work with National Geographic. He went to the Viet Nam Veterans Memorial and photographed each section of the Wall in high-resolution color. He then returned to his studio and spent many hours “stitching” the individual photographs into one massive image.
The result is one photograph of the 58,249 names carved into the black granite wall. This high-resolution photograph covers every inch of the 246 feet 9 inches (75 meters) of granite blocks. At the highest tip, the Wall is 10.1 feet (3 m) high, tapering to a height of eight inches (20cm) at the extremities. The image stored on Footnote.com contains five gigapixels. This one photograph has to be seen to appreciate the details available.
You can now examine this hallowed ground without traveling to Washington, D.C. For many of us, this is a great service.
You can search for a name of anyone who died in Viet Nam. (You can also search by locations or by other terms. For instance, you can find all the men from your hometown who died in Viet Nam by entering the name of the town. Click on “Advanced Search” to limit your search to locations.) When the name is found, one click of the mouse will display an image of that name as it is engraved on the Wall. You can zoom in and out easily to see all the details. In fact, you can zoom all the way out to see the entire wall or zoom in to see very tiny details. You can also navigate up, down, left and right.
Once the name is displayed, you will also see a “pop-up box” that displays more information about the person: full name, rank, military unit, military specialty (occupation), home town, home state, age, race, religion, marital status, Viet Nam tour start date, date of injury, date of death, location of casualty, cause of death, and more.
Now for what I think is the best part: you can add more text and even pictures to the online information. If you knew this person or even served with him, you can enter your comments as a memorial to his life. Stories about his life, his service in Viet Nam, and especially his beliefs are strongly encouraged. If you shared any experiences with this soldier, sailor, or airman, you can now share those stories with others. Stories about the deceased’s family and the impact of his death are also appropriate. If you have a picture of the deceased, you can also scan that and upload it. All information contributed then becomes visible to others who look for that soldier’s record on Footnote.com. The information you add may be of great benefit to his family, friends, and others who look for his record on the Footnote.com version of the Viet Nam Veterans’ Memorial Wall.
To see one veteran’s story about finding a fallen comrade in the Footnote.com database, go to http://go.footnote.com/thewall?xid=47 and click on the video there.
I am very impressed with the Footnote.com online image and database of the Interactive Viet Nam Veterans Memorial. I suspect you will be, too. It is a technological marvel as well as a moving experience.
The Interactive Viet Nam Veterans Memorial is one of the free services available on Footnote.com. You can even leave a tribute, a story, or a photograph at no charge. Anyone searching for that soldier in the future will be able to see your contribution, again at no charge.
To search the Interactive Viet Nam Veterans Memorial or any of the other collections available, go to http://www.footnote.com?xid=47.