How to solve the 9/11 memorial problem

How to solve the 9/11 memorial problem
: And there is a big problem. The finalists have received, most generously expressed, a collective shrug from New York and the world. The judges have delayed their decision and said they will likely change whatever we’ve seen, indicating that they, too, are not pleased with the results. The process is, as reader Frank Hood says in an email to me, at “quagmire status.”

But Hood has a solution, a downright brilliant solution:


throwing the entire process out or attempting to ram an unpopular design

down the public’s throat, the proper thing to do is to show the public the

rest of the 5200 designs.

The LMDC said they took high resolution digital pictures of each design

before showing them to the jury. A small investment of $40,000 would buy

them the servers and web design to post everything on the internet with

enough bandwidth for the needed access by the public. Looking at 5200

designs is daunting? Well yes, but that’s the magic of the web. Some

people would look at all of them and link the ones they like. Others would

get a group together and divide and conquer. The good will bubble to the

top quickly. If the jury is truly right at having picked the best designs,

the rest of us will know it soon enough. The result of a few weeks of

picking over the entries by the online community would either be the

emergence of a few entries that people really like, a grudging consensus

that the jury is right after all, or the demand to start over, changing the


Brilliant, right? What’s so great about this is that it takes advantage of the power of this medium: links. Yes, viewing 5,201 (to be exact) entries is a daunting prospect. But by the time Web viewers get finished, they’ll have whittled that to, oh, a few dozen notable entries. Technorati could even catalogue the links to them (though, no doubt, some will get links because they’re strange or bad; links are not votes). But then the press can take advantage of this audience-editing and find the most notable and put them in newspapers and the discussion widens. Neither Hood nor I are suggesting that this should be a plebiscite. What it does instead is open up the process, allow all of us to feel involved and to help point to those designs that touch us and speak to us. There are bound to be surprises there.

In addition, this also meets the jury’s fine goal of displaying all the proposals as a memorial in and of itself. The heart and soul that went into those 5,201 entries will be, I guarantee you, inspiring.

So, LMDC, how about it? I’m sure you could find plenty of companies willing to host this (volunteers?). I’m sure you’d find any number of talented people happy to design the pages (volunteers?). Put up a tip jar and I’ll contribute to the cost.

Let’s do it.

[For those new to this blog, my full disclosure: I submitted a proposal but I’m not pushing for this as a way to get it back into consideration; that’s not why I did it; I did it just to be part of the bigger memorial.]

: See also some new posts on the quagmire from Greg Allen.