Nowadays, websites are often used to keep in touch with personal memories of a certain historical event. The website of the Jewish monument is an example of this. It has two goals: first to keep alive the remembrance of the Jewish people in the Netherlands, second to make Jewish relatives able to find their roots. It is a project which invites people to add their own information about the victims. The website already offers a lot of information about them, but for some people there is less data known so visitors of the website can add information about them which they found themselves. These additions are checked weekly by the administrators of the website, and it is always mentioned that a visitor added this particular part of information.
It is clear that the website really adapts to its time when collecting information from visitors: in the first years (2005-2010) information was collected via email, phone or letters. From 2010 on they made it possible for visitors to add information directly online. This shows that the developers of the monument go along with the time. For visitors it is very easy to add some more information, once you have created an account, which was quite easy as well. The fact that this information is checked weekly, makes sure that there are no fake contributions. The website itself is really easy to use and understand, therefore people will feel more invited to post additional information about someone.
However, because there is already a big amount of information, people are less invited to add or go search for more information. Furthermore, people are not encouraged to add information; there is no banner or advertisement to invite them to contribute. Moreover, it is not sure that the people that have the most information about the victims, are able to use this website or even know about its existence. Close relatives of the victims are probably already quite old, and may not even have access to the internet.
If we compare this website of the Jewish monument to the website wherewereyou.org, the biggest difference is in their way of attracting people to contribute to the websites. The website of the ‘where were you’ projects starts with an invitation to visitors to share their experiences during that day, from the first moment it is clear for the visitor of the website that their story is desired. The first website, on the other hand, is not showing this message very clearly. Moreover ‘where were you’ makes it clear what exactly they want to know from visitors: ‘What did you feel at first? How do you feel now? What do you want to see happen?’ These questions not only point out what the developers of the website want to know, but makes their approach also very personal. This is also different in comparison to the website of the Jewish monument, where people are not addressed personally. This makes the urge for visitors to contribute perhaps less strong.
All in all, both websites have an important task to remember traumatic episodes in history and they both try to invite people to actively participate in this remembrance. It is interesting to see how they do this in completely different ways, but both succeed.
Written by Linda and Myriam