blog dds

2008.12.24

Europeana Launches, Again

The European Union's digital library Europeana, launched with great fanfare last month only to crash two hours later due to high demand. Today it came back up again with quadruple serving capacity and a promise for a suboptimal user experience during its test phase.

As a European I felt ashamed at Europeana's first launch seeing a project that was supposed to be a showcase of the continent's cultural and technological strengths fall flat on its face. This was especially sad, because nowadays even small startups regularly tap into cloud computing services to increase their serving capacity by orders of magnitude within minutes.

The re-launch didn't make me feel better. The contents and appearance of the library under underwhelming. The timeline interface, which currently seems to be the only browsing method, is especially lame.
Europeana's flipping interface
It attempts to provide a page-flipping-like experience through a web 2.0 interface. Only, what should have been a continuous flipping through all a year's images forces you instead to flip across groups of twenty images; then you have to select with a mouse button the next group. The result wastes screen real estate while gratuitously mixing user interface metaphors. Imagine Google maps requiring you to select a next map after scrolling a bit off a map's side.

The library's content is not much better. A comparison of the (taxpayer funded) Europeana with (taxpaying) Google is devastating. A search for Picasso on Europeana returns 17,573 hits, but most of them are missing. In contrast, a Google image search returns 5,990,000 hits and many lovely images.
Europeana's Picasso collection

Google's Picasso collection
I rest my case.

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Creative Commons License Last modified: Wednesday, December 24, 2008 8:55 pm
Unless otherwise expressly stated, all original material on this page created by Diomidis Spinellis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Greece License.