Would you like to explore, research or wonder at the sheer beauty of the island of Sardinia? All this is now possible thanks to a series of websites published by the Regione Autonoma della Sardegna. The portal of the region lists all of them in their home page and these will interest archaeologists, GIS experts, geographers, historians, environmental scientists and also curious people. All these websites are in Italian, and not all of them may be useful to the academic community, and therefore it is easy to overlook them. However, I would like to signal that not only some of these websites are really outstanding, but they are also being integrated and accessible through innovative interfaces.
I am referring to Sardegna3D, a virtual globe similar to Google Earth and NASA WorldWind, but limited to Sardinia. It requires the installation of a small software for Windows and integrates both satellite and aerial photographs, already with alternative coverage taken in two different years. It uses layers to map towns and sites of cultural or naturalistic interest and it is possible to access a wealth of information just by clicking on the sites. These include real-time webcams and weather maps; famous beaches; cultural heritage sites and topographical maps. The information for each topic is provided by one of the websites, but the integration of them in a single interface using advanced GIS capabilities gives a taste of what will be possible in the future. Sardinia is a culturally rich region, a microworld on its own, and therefore many researchers may benefit from this integration. The maps and aerial photographs were already part of the atlas available at Sardegna Territorio, but using an interactive virtual globe provides a better experience. Information about the cultural heritage of Sardinia is provided by SardegnaCultura; the website is also an editor’s choice. It contains several gigabytes of information, including full-text books! That website is really large, with many themes, including archaeology, literature and linguistics, fine arts, photography, theatre and music. There is so much information indeed that is easy to get lost. Other websites that may be worth looking at are Sardegna Turismo, where there are sections on past travellers, literary landscapes along with information on the best beaches. SardegnaForeste focuses on forests, natural parks, flora and fauna, providing maps, full-text books, short videos and pictures of the Sardinian ecological system. A separate section also assesses the threat from fires. All these websites offer several interdisciplinary themes and because we are talking of a single island it becomes quite evident how all aspects relate to each other.
I think this is one of the best implementations of Web technologies that is available now. The websites published by the Regione Autonoma della Sardegna are primarily containers of a wealth of information and would easily deserve a mention just for make available such a collection of diverse information. However, it must be praised the effort to facilitate the access to such information and especially the decision to link different topics through themes while providing an impression of order by maintaining separate websites. I thought of mentioning this in our blog because there is a lot of talking about new technologies and possibilities for the future; this is here and now. It will be also interesting to see how Intute will develop as similar websites will become more frequent and the barriers between disciplines will start falling, and new approaches and methods will emerge to access the large amounts of information that are discreetly published everyday.