This is a sophisticated, well-designed, interactive, information-rich tool for learning about the US primary/caucus results. It’s updated every half hour, it includes a timeline showing how vote results have come in throughout the months, from Iowa to Super Tuesday, and it’s frankly chock-a-block with information. Don’t know what the difference is between pledged and unpledged delegates? The “Delegate Types” tab walks you through it. Want to see a flowchart of how the whole system works, from primaries to the national convention? The “Process” tab shows it to you, in high-quality, easy-to-follow graphics.
Newspapers have been offering more and more rich, timely, professionally-designed content to support their stories. Most of the time, this content is a pleasure to use and it teaches clearly and well. It’s linked to large amounts of background content (in the form of articles in the paper itself) and it’s usually up-to-date and appealingly designed. I’d say it’s some of the best free web-based instruction around, at least for general education on topics of current interest.
It all makes me wonder: are these learning objects? If we made these things in libraries, or in universities, would they be used more than, say, our static research guides? Could we even make them in libraries? (There are definitely issues of cost and skill.) If we currently can’t, is this a kind of instruction that we’d like to work towards developing? Should we be training ourselves to create materials like this–if not a guide to the electoral process, then maybe an interactive history of African-American migration after emancipation, for that American History class we teach every year?
I think of how we could tie library sources in–digitized special collections, links to saved database searches, Google Scholar searches with persistent URLs passed through our link resolver, live chat with a reference librarian–and I can imagine this being a hugely successful new route for libraries to take. It would mean partnering closely with faculty to build the content and tie it to the curriculum, and it would mean training and financial support for more advanced, sophisticated multi-media production. But if we’re serious about building up our web presence and services to match our physical presence and services, I think this is one model I wouldn’t mind emulating.