Tuesday, November 10, 2009

History of Chinese Bookbinding Website Report

Troy Johansson
Professor Lisa Maruca
English 5080
10. November 2009
Chinese Book Binding

This website is dedicated to Chinese book binding. It is a part of the much larger International Dunhuang Project. The Dunhuang project is a collaboration on the known history of the East Silk Road. Dunhuang is a province in China that was important because of the Silk Roads that ran through it. The text for the Chinese bookbinding website is written by Colin Chinnery and the diagrams are by Colin Chinnery and Li Yi. Layout, content, and appearance all work together to make this a very good website.

The layout of the site is intuitive and user friendly. There are six styles of bookbinding covered on the site with a link to each type at the top of the site. These links do not go to separate sites but jump down the page to the section that is desired. Each section has two Chinese words in parenthesis following it. I was originally confused when I noticed this because I thought they were names of the people that worked on each section. When I noticed each “person” had the same last name and a different first name I puzzled out that it was not the names of contributors but the Chinese name of the style of bookbinding. This was the only time I was confused viewing the website. There are illustrations throughout the site that are not distracting to the text at all. There is a bibliography at the end of the page where it should be; it was not scattered throughout the site which made it easy to understand. The site is completely contained on one page, it doesn't become necessary to jump from page to page. It is organized in a very straightforward time line, earliest forms of bookbinding to the most modern. The layout and organization of the site is very well done and makes following the information provided on the site very easy.

The content of the site is very focused. It does not try to teach the reader everything about every different type of Chinese bookbinding. The site shares the information in a concise and easy to follow way. Studying the site beginning to end is not a masters class in Chinese bookbinding but it allows the reader to pretend they are a master. The text is backed up and strengthened by the many diagrams and pictures. The pictures are not just gratuitous, they link directly with the information shared in the text and improve the understanding of the reader. Difficult concepts are clearly explained through the use of pictures and diagrams. The information on the site comes from the International Dunhuang Project and is documented in the bibliography. The reputation of the Dunhuang Project and the thorough citing makes the information above reproach.

At the top of the site there is an option to download the site as a PDF. The PDF and the site are almost exactly the same, the only difference I saw is the PDF has a selective bibliography instead of the complete bibliography of the site. The site did not list when it was created or last modified but the nearly identical down-loadable PDF has a date of July 2nd 2007. There has probably been additional information on Chinese bookbinding uncovered in the last 2 years and an update of the site would appear to be in order but the source material for the website is all older. The most current source for information for this site is more than ten years old so it is possible that no new information has been uncovered in the last two years.

The appearance of the site in no way detracts from the content. The font is a very easy to read no nonsense font that works well with the scholarly nature of the website. It is a comfortable size to read and the color is well contrasted so straining is not necessary when reading. The diagrams were pleasant to look at and helped the reader understand. The pictures were high quality and pleasant to look at but probably would only be considered beautiful by book scholars. The colors and fonts work together to make this site pleasant to look at but not frivolous in any way. The appearance works well towards the aim of informing the reader. The diagrams and pictures are in close proximity to the text they are explaining and do not have to be searched for. The appearance is uniform throughout the page.

The intuitive layout, accurate and well explained content and simple appearance of this website combine to make it very effective. Stylistically nothing detracts from the content and the layout makes the website simple to use and follow. The content of the website is most important in this case and the content is not overwhelmed by useless tricks or distracting graphics and animations. The design of the website is very effective at allowing the information to stand on its own.
Chinnery, Colin. "Bookbinding." IDP Education. IDP, Web. 22 Oct 2009. .


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