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January 09, 2006 || 10:47 pm
Icons mess up

I'm sure I'll blog about the Icons project at greater length at due course, because it's an interesting and difficult project that also touches on lots of things I work with, but here's a quickie which starts with a BIG MISTAKE they made.

Oh dear - if you go to their atlas page, try to find the 'east of England' area. It's where the East Midlands should be. And vice versa. As an East Anglian, this riles me, and it's unfortunately ironic, symptomatic of the London-centrism of the trendy web designers that invented the whole project to look at 'Englishness'. While we're on the map, I'm not sure how the Isle of Man feels about being part of Cumbria either.

And then, when you do go to the East of England page - or, for that matter, any of the other regional pages - there's hardly any items on them. London gets a whole sheaf - but someone's really not been doing their research. Given that one of their first twleve 'icons' is the Empire Windrush, isn't it a bit strange not to put Tilbury on the atlas page for the East, when London gets Windrush Square in Brixton? and why does Chelsea and Man Utd football clubs get a mention, and not Arsenal, or Liverpool? are they only things of interest in the whole of Merseyside an Anthony Gormley installation and an art gallery - nothing about the Liver Building, the Cavern Club or any other Mersey icons?

I know that the idea of the project is to start a debate, and by writing this post I'm probably pleasing them, but it does strike me as more than a little insensitive to be so blatantly lazy about the regions. The Bramah Tea and Coffee Museum round the corner from my office is not more 'iconic' than Blackpool Pleasure Beach, which gets its image used as the map 'icon' for the North-West but doesn't actually merit getting an entry. And poor Cumbria and West Midlands gets absolutely no entries - no Lake District, Staffordshire Potteries, canals, Coventry Cathedral, Stratford-upon-Avon - what the hell were they thinking?

What is stranger is that in the national press no-one I've read so far has picked up on this. Has our media really gotten so introverted? Surely someone's noticed the sheer laziness of this piece of work - thinking its being 'inclusive' by nominating the Windrush and cups of tea, while leaving out whole swathes of the country?

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