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10/8/2008

Living With Wikipedia (China Beat) and Social Bookmarking

Filed under: — C. W. Hayford @ 1:08 pm Print
China Beat asked me to pull together some thoughts on “WIKIPEDIA, the Free Encyclopedia.” With help from several friends, including Alan Baumler and Konrad Lawson, I posted “Living With Wikipedia: It’s Here to Stay” (October 7, 2008). I invited comments here at Frog, though, and we would welcome tricks, thoughts, or indignant denuncations. If I have set this link right (which is a big "if"), Chayford Wikipedia bookmarks will take you to my Delicious bookmarks. This is better than searching Delicious for "Wikipedia," which gives you 529,036 hits. I don't want to think about how many hits you would get Googling "Wikipedia." Speaking of Delicious (formerly Del.icio.us), it's one of the social bookmarking sites (the link is to the Wikpedia article). Delicious describes itself as "a social bookmarking service that allows you to tag, save, manage and share Web pages all in one place. With emphasis on the power of the community, Delicious greatly improves how people discover, remember and share on the Internet." In other words, it's a cousin of Wikipedia. Whether Delicious too is "here to stay" is another question. By now, searching Delicious generally gives you an overwhelming number of hits. Maybe there's a better way of handling the problem of sorting and classifying websites. There are quite a few more such sites in the Wikipedia article "List of Social Software," including digg, diigo, Furl, and the list goes on. Touchgraph gives you a beautiful display which shows the web connections for a site you enter into the search box, but I don't see how it helps me learn about, say Wikipedia. Likewise oSkope, a "visual search assistant," which allows you to search visually. What this adds, I am not sure. In other words, we have come a long way since my green metal box of 3x5 cards. But I would like to hear more skepticism, or at least truth in labeling, about these "social" enterprises. The Wikipedia article Social Bookmarking states some of them:
no standard set of keywords (a lack of a controlled vocabulary), no standard for the structure of such tags (e.g., singular vs. plural, capitalization, etc.), mistagging due to spelling errors, tags that can have more than one meaning, unclear tags due to synonym/antonym confusion, unorthodox and personalized tag schemata from some users, and no mechanism for users to indicate hierarchical relationships between tags (e.g., a site might be labeled as both cheese and cheddar, with no mechanism that might indicate that cheddar is a refinement or sub-class of cheese).
No librarian will be surprised. Ideas, anyone?

4/14/2007

More geographical coolness

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 4:40 pm Print
Konrad's post on the GIS dataset below is well worth looking at, as this is a very cool dataset. I saw Peter Bol give a presentation at AAS (which has been getting some attention) in panel 161 Mapping Chinese Modernity: Industrial Technology and the Question of Space in Modern China (1850-1950). Bol was brought in because no panel on modern technology is complete without a Song intellectual historian ((his joke, not mine)) and because he is one of the main movers behind the China GIS project. He showed us a set of maps that proved that the Chinese railways did not really change the pattern of economic development in China that much because they mostly followed existing transport routes. ((I'm actually not sure how good this is as a point, as I am pretty sure that railways always follow existing trade routes, since that is where the cargo and passengers want to go. I assume I get this bit of knowledge from Cronon Nature's Metropolis since it is the only train book I know at all well.)) What made his point really interesting is that he was able to illustrate it with maps that he had made up in "a few minutes" using the GIS data. I suspect that easily available GIS data will change a lot of things in the world of scholarship. One example is Google Books, which now automatically generates a map which shows all the places mentioned in any given book.  Any suggestions for other cool things that cheap, convenient GIS data will make available to us in the future?

China Historical GIS Data Sets Project Available

Filed under: — K. M. Lawson @ 2:47 pm Print
There was an announcement on H-Asia which might be of interest to historians and researchers that appreciate the power of GIS geographic information data. This Harvard program has made available for free (with registration) the download of an amazing collection of GIS data related to China's historical borders, administrative units, etc. Below is a copy of their most recent announcement:
China Historical GIS Data sets project available, Harvard University CHGIS China Historical Geographic Information System [Version 4] We are pleased to announce the release of the China Historical GIS - Version 4, providing a fully documented database of historical administrative units in China. The new datasets may be downloaded free of charge for academic use. Contents of the new release include: Updated! Time Series datasets (from 222 BCE to 1911 CE) for the region covered by modern Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui, Fujian, Jiangxi, Guangdong, and Hunan and partial coverage for Guangxi, Shandong, Sichuan, Yunnan & Zhili Qing Dynasty Datasets circa 1820. Updated! Late Qing Datasets circa 1911 for the region covered by Anhui, Fujian, Gansu, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hebei, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Shandong, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Yunnan, Zhejiang, Zhili (Including more than 35,000 town and village points) New! ChinaW Dataset (with more than 150 variables related to Cities, County Seats, and Yamen) circa 1820-1893, produced by Regional Systems Analysis Project (G. W. Skinner, Zumou Yue, Mark Henderson at UC Davis) New! Physiographic Macroregions of China produced by Regional Systems Analysis Project (G. W. Skinner, Zumou Yue, Mark Henderson at UC Davis) Updated! CITAS 1990 data (Provinces, Prefectures, and Counties) joined with basic census statistics. New! USGS Geographic Names Data circa 1990 for all Provices (over 140,000 named features) New! Digital Elevation Model plus Topographic Background Image (derived from GTOPO-30). Frontier Regions datasets (circa 1875 – 1900) covering areas in Tibet, Qinghai, Xinjiang, and Mongolia, as digitized from Russian historical maps. Digital Scans of Southwest China Maps by Joseph Rock The complete contents of the datasets listed above are available for free download by registering your name, institution and email address at http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~chgis CD-ROM is available ..... For price and postage information please contact CHGIS... Editors:: Peter K. Bol [pkbol [at mark] fas.harvard.edu] and Jianxiong Ge Executive Editors: Merrick Lex Berman [mberman [at mark] fas.harvard.edu] and Zhimin Man Chair, China Historical Geographic Information System Project Center For Geographic Analysis Institute for Quantitative Social Science 1737 Cambridge Street Harvard University +1 617-496-6222 Email: pkbol [at mark] fas.harvard.edu Visit the website at http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~chgis

12/14/2006

Announcement: East Asian Libraries and Archives Wiki

Filed under: — K. M. Lawson @ 5:19 am Print
The Frog in a Well project is expanding. While we hope our three bilingual collaborative weblogs dedicated to the study of East Asian history will continue to develop and add more contributors, I would like to announce a new project that we are hosting here, the East Asian Libraries and Archives wiki, or EALA: The East Asian Libraries and Archives Wiki This wiki will serve as a central collection site for information about archives, libraries, museums, etc. in East Asia that are of potential interest for anyone doing research on or in East Asia. It will also include sections dedicated to other kinds of resources but its primary focus it to provide researchers with a good starting place and reference for information on sites they may be visiting. While many archives have websites, my experience has been that they vary significantly in quality, convenience, organization, and speed of access. Also, visitors to archives can often provide extremely useful information to future visitors that may not be of the kind you are likely to read on the archive's official homepage. The two most important aspects of each archive entry will be: 1) Basic reference information that will help a researcher plan ahead for their visit and easily find links to more details 2) Provide a place where researchers may record their personal experiences in the archive. As a wiki, anyone will be able to edit the individual entries, update information that might be out of date, and record their own experiences. The East Asian Libraries and Archives wiki was originally founded in 2003 and originally hosted in a similar form at Chinajapan.org. It was inspired by the Chinese archives website at UCSD which hosts a range of useful, if somewhat outdated information for students and scholars wanting to do research in the archives of China. I hope that other students and scholars of East Asia will share some of their experiences and, as they conduct their own research will consider updating information available. You may read more about the site here, and there are numerous help files on how to edit and create pages on the site here. The wiki has links to a blank archive form (PDF, Word, and wiki formatted text) for convenient note taking on your visit. I have posted a few entries from my time in Japan, which I added to the original site in 2003-4. To get an idea of what kind of information entries can include, see for example the entries for International Library of Children's Literature, the Ōya Sōichi Library, and the Yokohama Archives of History. While it is off to a slow start, I would also like to take this opportunity to introduce the Frog in a Well Library, or the 文庫, where we will host various primary documents related to the history of East Asia: The Frog in a Well Library

11/11/2005

Ling Long: Digital Women’s Magazine Project Relaunched

Filed under: — K. M. Lawson @ 1:16 pm Print
001002.24 I just found out that Columbia University has relaunched its project putting the Chinese women's magazine Ling long (玲瓏, "elegant and fine")online. You can visit the newly updated site here: The Ling Long Women's Magazine I have linked and blogged about the project before, even using the project as an example of a relatively easy way libraries can contribute to resources online in a way immediately useful to other historians, but there have been some great improvements in presentation this time. As before, you can view images from most pages of the magazine from 1931 to 1937. However, the site is now much more pleasant and sports a new interface for finding pages and viewing multiple pages while scanning through articles. Also new is an article by my friend Elizabeth LaCouture, a PhD student at Columbia University about the magazine which is also available in PDF format, along with a bit more about the project and the collection. The project is well worth visiting, and I can only hope that many more of these great sources make their way online.

11/6/2005

Searching Google Print for Old Books on China

Filed under: — K. M. Lawson @ 1:44 pm Print
Google print, which is scanning thousands of books in major research libraries, is useful when you want to scan across many English language books for terms. It only offers you a few pages, but will show you all the hits for words in given books, the pages they are on, and what pages surround them. Many books are not yet available, and you will find that some important books on East Asian history, both old and new are frustratingly missing will less common works are there. However, instead of going to the index of books you own, if it is on Google Print we have an increasingly quick alternative to consulting indexes. For example, didn't Poshek Fu's book on collaboration in wartime Shanghai mention an organization called the Shanghai Association of the Theatrical Circle for National Salvation? Ah yes, Google Print tells me that it is mentioned on page 74, and in a footnote on page 188. I can then login to my google account and view that page, and in many cases a few pages surrounding it. You can also completely search the contents of a work by of our own Alan Baumler, the leading contributor here at Frog in a Well - China. His Modern China and Opium: A Reader is already scanned up by Google through the University of Michigan's library. Now, most of us know that Google has been scanning lots of books no longer protected under copyright. Thanks to this announcement, it is easier for me to get at them. Go to Google Print and search for China related books, for example, with this search term:
china date:1500-1923

You can also use other search elements to limit by author for example (eg. author:smith) or title (eg. intitle:language).

This could develop into a very useful searching tool for us in the future, since every page of these public domain books can be searched and viewed through google. Update: See more interesting examples of old google print text searching over at Cliopatria.

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