Wherewereyou.org and Groeistad.nl: Contributing in 2001 and 2018 a comparison

We looked at two different digital collecting sites, wherewereyou.org and groeistad.nl. These two websites are very different, both in their functionality as the time they were launched.



The website wherewereyou.org was started by three undergraduate students without any specific funding. They wanted to collect personal narratives about September 11 from people all around the world. On the website they say: “These are the World’s hearts and thoughts.” On the website wherewereyou.org input was collected for one year. The collected data is still available online.

The collected data is all textual. The input possible by users was limited to their entry, name, age and state or country they live. The website user can search the entries by the metadata of age and location. It’s also possible to search the entries for specific words. This allows an user to search the archive and retrieve information from it. However the search function is not working for entries. Searching by a particular name is possible. This makes it possible for contributor’s to find their own contribution on the website. There is also a page containing states and countries and ages, which allows users to view all entries from a particular state or country or with a particular age when writing their contribution. Because of these limited search functions, the website is not a very handy tool to use for research.

The goal of the website was to record thoughts and emotions of everyday people about the events from September 11. Some people however only made contributions expressing their sympathy with the victims of the attacks:


“#7 | Saturday, September 15th, 2001
i pass my sympothy on to New York city and all the families of the innocent people.

Matthew Davis | 20 | Australia”

There are also entries containing violent comments, which can be seen in the contribution below:


“#2520 | Saturday, September 14th 2002

Hello, I’m Laura from holland and I just wanna say that everyone in Rotterdam feels sorry for what happend september eleven 2001. We will support you in every possible way. Just believe in God and we will get the bastard We hope that he gets the chair!!! Our Love for everyone who was in NY at the time and who lost a special person
Greets from Rotterdam
Laura | 16 | Netherlands”

The website offers a great place for people to express their thoughts about the events of September 11. For research purposes the current website is however very limited, because of the limited metadata and broken search function. Because the website only allowed contributions for one year, it also offers an interesting view on the internet and websites like these in 2001-2002.



Groeistad.nl was launched last may and is a tool developed to be used in class. The tool allows teacher and students to input their own data on a map of Amsterdam. Only primary school students and teachers who go to school in Amsterdam can make a contribution to the map. The kind of entries to this website is also limited, because of this restricted access. The goal of the website is not to collect as much data as possible, but to provide primary schools students with an interactive tool to come in contact with heritage in their neighbourhood.

The data is added to the map by creating a pin on the map. Pictograms (archeology, architecture, museum treasures, monuments, stories and art) in the pins tell the user what the information from a pin is about. It’s possible for teachers and students to create a private map, for educational purposes, but there are also public pins available on the website. These pins show a wide range of information about various sites in Amsterdam. The creators of the map already provided important places in Amsterdam with pins and information. This helps students and teachers to create their own pins. With 217 pins, primary schools in city district ‘Oud Zuid’ are by far the most active contributors to the map.

The website offers a lot of functionality. Users can add both private and public pins. They choose a category for the pin they add to the map. Inside these pins they can add both textual and visual information. It’s also possible to display various older maps on the current map used for the digital tool. This allows the user to view historical maps and look at Amsterdam with a historical vision. Users need an account to add pins, which limits the access to the website and helps contain spam on the website.

The website works well as an educational tool and can not only teach students about heritage in their own neighbourhood, it can also help students with developing their writing skills and learn how to read a map. The main goal of this digital collecting website is to provide an educational tool for teachers. The digital collection is however very limited, because most of the information is set to private by primary schools for teaching purposes. It would be interesting to see more public entries on this website. It is also quite a difficult tool to use for students as they first have to discover how the map works, instead of immediately starting their research and providing a simple contribution. The possibilities of adding images however provides interesting pins and adds a visual element to the information collected.



Both websites don’t offer much for research purposes. They weren’t designed to be used for research, which limits the possibilities for future research. As community projects to collect data they are both interesting examples of how this is done during a specific period of time on the internet. The difference between wherewereyou.org from 2001 and groeistad.nl form 2018 are very big and shows how the internet has developed. Because of the big difference in time between these two websites it’s difficult to compare them.

Wherewereyou.org is a site where literally everyone could leave a post and is therefore much more uncensored than groeistad.nl. The possibilities of groeistad.nl to add visual context would however also been interesting for the contributions on wherewereyou.org. The purposes of the two websites are very different, but they both offer communities to make contributions about a specific topic.



Maurilla and Wietske