Via BoingBoing via Joi Ito comes news of the National Reconnaissance Office’s NROjr. The NRO is in charge of our nation’s battery of snoop satellites; NROjr is their child outreach project. What they could possibly hope to gain from this is beyond me. They claim that “Our hope is that the various activities will spark an interest in your child to learn more about space”, ostensibly by inspiring them with the love of science and technology and driving them to excel at math and other academic skills.
The thing is, it’s easily one of the most boring and downright crappy sites I’ve ever seen — and Im a big fan of Web Pages That Suck. Start with the awful, Muppet-esque voiceover that sounds when you hover your mouse over a menu item. Add some of the lamest games in the universe, some purely awful stories (admittedly, by students — though how those three students (all from the same school, Cub Run Elementary) got chosen I have no idea) with titles like “Proud to Be American”, an art gallery (mostly models of satellites made by students from — wait for it… Cub Run Elementary), and a few kinda ok projects (making models of satellites like the kids at Cub Run Elementary), and you got one suck-ass website. The questions it raises are so numerous: Should we embarassed to have a ‘gov domain name of this low quality? Why hasn’t the site been updated in at least a year? Where’s the “Satelline Rescue Hero story” (yes, the NRO misspelled “satellite”) we were promised would be up by October of 2003? Why is the Flash section in a frame that cuts off the menu in Opera? Why is their no “back” navigation in the Flash parts? Is this really the best online experience that one of the most technologically advanced agencies of the richest, most powerful government in the world can provide?
Finally, given that this experience is soooo poor, are they actively trying to make kids dumber?!