There are lots of excellent features on the website - it was very easy to locate the page for the object in question as it was one of the week's featured items, and alongside a picture and some text was the recording that I'd heard on the radio. Website users can also log in and leave comments on each object, and some seem to be doing so.
So far, so good. I found the object, and found out a bit about it. Then I got adventurous and thought I might look for other objects with similar stories. The 'Explore' section of the website comes in two flavours: a flash-powered spiralling timeline version, and a list version. I'll be linking to the basic list version because I'm not sure if everyone will be able to view the flash, and the lists are easier to work with anyway.
There are several things I don't like about these 'Explore' pages, and I like to think that this reaction is born from annoyance that a good website isn't more useful, and not just some boring librarianly desire for catalogues to be complex. My complaints are as follows:
- there is a range filters (for location, theme, culture, size, colour, material, time period, contributor type, and BBC area), but you can only refine the results by only one filter (plus a time period) at a time. You can look for purple things from 1925-1950, or cloth things from 1925-1950, but not purple cloth things from 1925-1950.
- the time periods are also fixed, so you can't narrow down a search to a known date or range of dates, you can only find everything from 600 to 200 BC, or 1600 to 1700 AD, but not items from 1325-1425, or 1966 only, or whatever.
- the geographic categories are rather broad: UK, Europe, East Asia, Africa, Middle East, Pacific and Australia, North America, South Asia, Central and South America, South East Asia, America, and Central Asia.
- there's no free-text search, so you can't search for a specific place (or name, or object): you can only browse using the broad filters described above.