Cultural Atlas of Australia

Cultural Atlas of America landing page

For this Website Review Assignment, the site I will analyze is the Cultural Atlas of Australia, http://australian-cultural-atlas.info/CAA/index.php. The picture on the right is the landing page of the website. As you can see, at the top are the multiple pages that users can use to navigate throughout the website. Also, there is a search bar that allows users to search specific information they are looking to find on the website. Along with those features, the landing page has a welcoming message that serves as an About by describing what the website does.

As previously mentioned, the landing page has a brief message for those wondering what the Cultural Atlas of Australia has to offer them. The message explains that the website consists of an interactive digital map that marks the locations that appear in popular Australian media, such as films, novels, and plays. At the end of the small paragraph, it also offers the viewer an option to click on the word “map” that will take you to the picture below without having to click on the Map page in the header.

As we move from the home page to the next, it is the Map page. The interactive map is what the website revolves around for the most part. The map consists of the world, but mainly of Australia and its surrounding regions. It shows the user all of the locations where certain media, whether it is films, plays, or novels, was created, but also shows where the narrative or shooting of video took place. On the left of the interactive map, users are able to filter the results for what type of media they are searching for, the location type, the state, when it was published, and a search bar to look-up keywords.

Interactive Map page

Another feature of the interactive map is the ability for users to see the Google Maps view from what the landscape and environment looks like. With this feature, it enables the user to visually see the landscape where the play, film, or book actually takes place. This provides the users with an extremely cool experience, which the creators did a good job with, and does not force the users to travel to Australia when they can see the landscape from the comfort of their own homes.

Next is the Showcase page. The only thing on that page is a link labeled “Mapping Ecological Themes in Australian Film and Literature”. This page leads the reader to six different case studies about the exploitation of resources in many areas of Australia. My sole issue with the Showcase page is that unless the website administrator was planning on adding more links, it should just take you right to the six PDF’s of the case studies on natural resource exploitation in Australia.

Frequently Asked Questions page

The third page is the FAQs, or Frequently Asked Questions. I feel as though most websites do not have this page, but I like the fact that Cultural Atlas of Australia does. The website has an extremely interesting concept with the use of its interactive map and other various features that the users may not understand how to properly use the site. Also, the FAQs page enables the users with the information on how they can contribute, whether it is a new narrative or location, a photograph, or correcting incorrect information.

Then, there is the About page. Although there was a brief description of the website’s goal and purpose on the landing page, there is an entire page to describe the website. This About page consists of a synopsis, ways to contribute just as the FAQs page discussed, its target audience, and how it works. After the About page, the website has a Contact page, which allows the user to contact the creators of the website, as well more opportunities to contribute to the site. Lastly, the last page on the website is notifying the user that there is an application for both Apple, Android, and Google products, called The CultureMap Mobile Application. The digital atlas app allows its users to access the same interactive map that has over two-hundred films, novels, and plays that feature Australian places.

The CultureMap Mobile Application page

Also on the About page, the creators provide a statement with what they hope their technology can offer. The page states, “The Cultural Atlas of Australia is an interactive digital map designed to meet the needs of anyone interested in tracing the ways in which Australian places and spaces have been represented in fictional texts.” The page eventually further explains how users can find specific results and the information they are seeking by visiting this website.

For those interested in what the Cultural Atlas of Australia has to offer, this is the perfect website for them. People who are interested in Australian geography and culture can use this website in order to plan a literary tour, visit film sites, and research landscape and locations. Also, giving people the opportunity to interact with the website, which in this case is with the map, might entice more people to visit the site. Plus, the creators allow visitors the chance to contribute to the website and the ability to keep the website growing. Although it is great for people who are able to navigate it and enjoy the content, it is not accessible and navigational for everyone. One group of people who may be unable to properly use this website would be the visually impaired because the Cultural Atlas of Australia does rely on an interactive map for its users to experience.

The Cultural Atlas of Australia is a very comprehensive and complete website. It encompasses so many different aspects that all come together quite well to create a great, interactive website. One potential bias of the website is that the interactive map does not consist certain forms of media, such as poetry, short stories, television series, documentaries, and biographies. I would rule that this is not a legitimate bias due to the fact that the creators acknowledge these mediums’ absence from the Cultural Atlas of Australia, and are possibly open to adding them in the nearby future as the site continues to develop.

The design and structure behind the Cultural Atlas of Australia is certainly only achievable through the website and app. I do not believe other forms of media would be able to replicate or create their own digital atlas. Other forms of media can possess an atlas but none could possibly be as interactive as the digital atlas that is pictured above. The main difference between most atlases and the one I have analyzed is the obvious fact that it is digital. The ability for readers to click on multiple markers and navigate between them with ease is what separates the Cultural Atlas of Australia from all of the others that are not digital.

Overall, I really enjoy the concept of the Cultural Atlas of Australia and I have never seen another website quite like it when it comes to being this interactive. Aside from the digital map, the website is well constructed, is easy to navigate, and is aesthetically pleasing. The background is of a desert in Australia, the top of the page is a piece of a map, and the content on each page looks to be on worn-down pieces of paper. I feel that this is the perfect website for people interested in Australian geography and culture but could be interesting and informational for people who are not as knowledgeable on the subject, such as myself.

For Further Reading: “Cultural Atlas of Australia” – http://australian-cultural-atlas.info/CAA/index.php

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