Ok, strange train of thought here. I’m listening to a song by Serge Gainsbourg “Torrey Canyon” and I have this terrible habit of listening to music without decoding the words. It’s crap really, but for a long time I thought Fear’s “Let’s have a war” was actually “Let’s have a word” (ha ha ha) - I guess my brain just goes into neutral and I happily hum along, missing the point of the song entirely.
So all of a sudden I decide to start listening to the words. What is “Torrey Canyon” about? (my subconscious had registered it under ironic-French-singer-does-funny-piece-about-cowboy) Well, it’s the story of the first oil-tanker disaster. The earliest one I can remember from childhood was the wreck of the “Amoco Cadiz” in 1977. The Cadiz is still the largest single spill on record. It was a major disaster that prompted the shipping authorities to change lane behaviour in the Channel and the French government to set up C.E.D.R.E. to organise effective methods for dealing with these emergencies.
But back to Torrey Canyon. After letting the Gainsbourg song sink in, I Googled the name of the boat (as you do) and found an amazing page on a UK university site entitled The Torrey Canyon’s Last Voyage - this is a truly chilling account of how events led to the wreck. And I was reminded of usability issues by the language of the site which is all about users failing to see the things they’re supposed to and being confused by those that they do. If you care about usability and design, have a read.
On a different note, I can’t believe the wreck of the Torrey was now thirty-five years ago and we are still spilling oil into our oceans…