Sunday, August 15, 2010

Visualising China Project: request for user feedback

Announcement from H-ASIA:

This message is an invitation to potential users of an online resource under development at the University of Bristol to contribute feedback and help us shape the project. Some information about this project is available via

Some readers of the list might be aware that for a few years now I have been directing a project at Bristol that has been locating pre-1949 photographs of China in British collections, digitizing them, and placing them online at the 'Historical Photographs of China' site

Some of you may have seen the exhibition that we developed from the material, 'Picturing China', some have collaborated with us, and the project has supplied images some of you have used in books or presentations.

Over the last year we have been working with the 'Web Futures' team in Bristol's Institute for Learning and Teaching Technology, on a JISC-funded project -- 'Visualising China' -- to develop new ways to access this and related material. We're now at a stage when we need to secure engaged feedback from potential users of the new tool.

Why are we interested in hearing from you?

Use of the Internet for research is now prolific across all university subject disciplines. However, the differences in how online content is accessed and used by different researchers are nuanced across and within disciplines. Tools for organising, using and sharing online information as part of research - including text, images and video€“ are starting to emerge. Our particular interest in the 'Visualising China' project is in which tools are currently in use for research in modern Chinese history, and what are the gaps that they leave?

What is the online tool that we are developing?

We are developing a web-based resource that allows users to explore more than 6000 digitised images of historical photographs of China taken between 1870 and 1950 that we have have already made available. This is tool for researchers and other users that offers cross-searching with related online collections (to help avoid time-consuming searches across multiple sites). We are offering intuitive ways to filter image, video and textual resources according to time and geography, in other words, ways to help you navigate and pool information from wide-ranging sources. The tool is a research community tool, through which more online content can be easily linked to and thus used through a single point of access (for example images on Picasa, Flickr, Internet Archive, related Google books or online journals). "Deep annotation" is offered – annotating parts of images or videos for example - and explicitly linking such items to others. The resource can be used as a private research space, facilitated via user logins, or as a shared workspace, perhaps to create Learning Pathway resources for students.

How we would like you to help us:

We need help from the potential user community to decide how best we tailor our tool to your needs. If you are interested in providing feedback or simply want to keep up to date with progress, please fill in the form at

Your help would be very much appreciated.

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