A vibrant new Internet portal has opened that provides English speakers with information on Taiwan culture. You will want to save a bookmark in your browser for Culture.tw. The portal offers information about arts events, performances and music festivals as well as photography and feature articles. A generous supply of links takes you to artists' communities, orchestras, museums, festival hubs, and individual artists.
The site won support from Taiwan's Central News Agency in an open bid process and gains from the resources the CNA brings to the project.
The portal's chief editor discusses the site with reporter Robert Brownlow in today's Taipei Times:
Miranda Loney, chief editor of Culture.tw, said that the site was unlike other cultural portals because, in addition to presenting links to local Web sites, it also offers information and articles in a foreign language. "Our site is not just a cultural portal. If we'd have just made a cultural portal it wouldn't have worked," she said. "We had to augment it with lots of English information that wasn't readily available."
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To be sure, many Taiwan-based English-language Web sites already cover Taiwanese culture, and a few offer a partial multimedia experience. Internet surfers can download podcasts from International Community Radio Taiwan's (ICRT) Web site, for example, or watch videos on the Taiwan News' site. [...]
But Culture.tw has access to CNA's extensive video and audio production resources and takes the multimedia experience to a new level, with videos, audio files and a well-managed collection of links, in addition to a growing collection of articles and pictures. There are plans to add Web 2.0 functions like blogging and user-generated content as part of a redesign next year. Readership is growing, and the site is already one of the first links that pops up when a person enters search terms like "Taiwan culture" or "Taiwanese art" on Google.
Culture.tw was conceived three years ago by a group of academics led by Wu Chin-fa (吳錦發), the assistant director of the Council of Cultural Affairs (CCA). Foreigners were enlisted for a focus group to brainstorm ideas for an "English Web portal" (英文入口網站). The CCA then submitted an RFP, or request for proposals, for companies who were interested in running the site. CNA, a news service that derives a portion of its revenue from the Taiwanese government, won the bid.
The site is run by Loney, an editor at Academia Sinica and former reporter and editor for the culture and arts section of Japan's Asahi Evening News, two editors, a project manager, two Web designers, six systems engineers and four translators. It employs one full-time reporter and has featured articles by 15 paid freelance writers.
The writers tend to be experts in a particular field, like Taiwanese visual arts or Aboriginal cultures, and Loney said she's always looking for more contributors.
Two early highlights are articles about Hoklo-language poet Chen Chao-cheng (陳昭誠), a taxi driver who was a victim of the White Terror period, and Tsui Kuang-yu (崔廣宇), a video/performance artist who has shown his work at Tate Liverpool. Readers can listen to Chen read three of his poems in a soulful baritone and watch a video of Tsui rolling bowling balls at pigeons in London."It's very exciting. And everybody loves working for us," Loney said. "Just think that just a few years Taiwanese weren't even allowed to speak their own language. And now we can broadcast it over the Internet for everyone to hear the beauty of their language. It's great, isn't it?"