Scrolling through the list of Best of the Web nominations, my eye was caught by the Never Lost: Polynesian Navigation site (http://www.exploratorium.edu/neverlost/) from Exploratorium, the museum of science, art and human perception in San Francisco. I am currently taking an Oceanic Art class and one of the things we have talked at length about is the importance of navigation and the development of navigational tools and methods in these island cultures.

The Never Lost site serves to give an explanation of the traditional Polynesian navigation systems that had started to disappear but have been recently revived. How the Polynesian people originally managed to build strong boats and find their way on long journeys between islands is described as well as how these techniques have been adapted by contemporary navigators.

The site itself has a clean, simple design and is very easy to navigate. The ability to make the site full-screen makes it even easier to look at. It is multilingual, in both English and Hawaiian. The main body of the site is divided into four categories and within each category there are text, videos, images and interactive elements to describe origins, canoes, navigation and voyages. My favorite interactive elements are the canoe with all of its parts linked to videos of how the part is made and what it does and the planetarium including tours of important constellations and descriptions of all the Hawaiian directions (there are many more than four). The navigation bar at the bottom of the page includes a very useful glossary of terms, many of which are Hawaiian.

Drawbacks of the site are that it is not searchable and there is no bibliography for further research, though it does include biographies of those involved in the making of the site. Despite these things, the breadth of information given on the site is extensive; I don’t think anyone could walk away without learning a lot about Polynesian navigation.

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