The New York Times explored the centuries long emergence of “High-Rises” through the creative use of poetry, timelines and archived images from the Times’ library. It is one of the most imaginative uses of what I call “digital assets” I have seen.
High Rise also examines the link between impoverished living and the tiny cubicles that high rise developments afforded to the poor. There is an especially pointed piece of the project, maybe a voice of the younger people who produced it, that wondered if the return to tiny living spaces should forewarn the poverty that once lived in such tiny spaces 100 years ago.
It would be right to wonder if the poetic narrative of this project would get old, maybe just a little too cute at the expense of content. But, surprisingly, the poetry added a lightness to the experience. The poetry almost certainly would not have worked if the content had not been so rich. The clever narrative cannot be used to prop up weak content.
The project includes user-contributed content, but truthfully it is the weakest part of this strong showing. It almost seems it was added as an afterthought, both because it is stuck at the end of the navigation and the images don’t reveal information, experiences or truths that the reader would not have seen or thought about before. The user-contributed content was sorted and categorized well but simply doe snot compare to the rich content that precedes it in the narrative.