samedi 18 décembre 2010

cultural tagging

I used to teach at University, and before that, I went through a whole 'arts' curriculum. That was just a few years before the internet developed, at the turn of the Millenium. One of the things we were trained to do in our literature and cultural analysis classes was to understand references - when a sentence, an image, a statement was a quote with high cultural significance.
One feature of the Marco Polo project would be to develop such analytical items for Western audiences. One way of doing it would be to engage the participants in drafting or improving wikipedia pages, and link relevant passages to those pages. Identifying not only the references to the great Chinese classics - Laozi, Confucius, the Journey to the West or the Romance of the Three Kingdoms - but also some contemporary 'pop' references, like Teresa Teng songs, or dialogues from famous movies.
I remember an instance in a Chinese movie - two male characters have an ambiguous, verging on flirtatious relationships. One of them asks the other - Where did I see you, where did I see you? The other answers - in a dream. This is a direct quote from 'Tian mimi', a song by Teresa Teng - and colours the whole passage. I had a moment of pleasure picking that up, which wasn't shared by my Australian friends.
The purpose of this? Train Western audiences to appreciate Chinese productions more fully, and train Chinese people to understand cultural gaps - what needs a footnote, what should be explained. In short, foster better understanding.

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