So points me to “The coolest photo of Earth’s atmosphere you will see today“.

I’m a sucker for a new wallpaper and anything with a nice egg shell blue sky in always works for me as I find all that empty clean space calming on a monitor screen. Same with any decent photo pointing upwards or from really high up pointing downwards.

I clicked the link. And the Digg submitter was right – it was the the coolest photo of Earth’s atmosphere I saw today. The only one, but still, the thought was a good one. Right click > set as Desktop > minimize screen > aaahhh, what a great view.

I then saw that this was the EOS NASA online image bank and there was a link to more content. Aha, I thought, if the other images are as good as this one then I am in wallpaper heaven – cities, mountain ranges, coastlines – all in high res and screen filling goodness.

So I clicked the small link “view images index“. It took me to a page with a few thumbnails and the worst most pointless content selection browse I have ever seen.

I could only assume that they have made it deliberately hard to get any use from this part of the site. And I usually don’t mind random meanderings through content delivery sites but after a couple of clicks I was so annoyed I simply stopped.

EOS website navigation

Now NASA must have one of the worlds largest image banks containing some of the most incredible images ever seen. So why spend billions on the camera to take them and then what looks like 5 minutes thought to organise them for public viewing on a webpage?

Ironically it probably took ages for some poor web editor to manually hyperlink each of those numbers to a page. Or more likely there’s a CMS routine that sticks a new number on the end of the list everytime a new batch of images gets uploaded.

Their “mission statement” as they grandly state it is actually fulfilled: ” The purpose of NASA’s Earth Observatory is to provide a freely-accessible publication on the Internet where the public can obtain new satellite imagery and scientific information about our home planet.” …but to satisfaction? Not mine, certainly.

And underneath each of those links were some astonishing images. This is a classic example of when you have too much content – how do you present it in an understandable fashion?

To be honest I am happy to wait for all those thumbnails to load onto the same page or divided by a simple taxonomy or a perpetual page like Unspace.

I can only assume it won all those “Webby” awards for it’s content and not the site itself.