Elites, Networks and Power in Modern China

Infrastructure

In designing the infrastructure to support the workflow the project and to establish the types and range of tools and technologies involved, we initially observed the existing solutions that provided ready-made solutions, both public and free (DocSky, Academia Sinica DH Center) or commercial solutions (CNKI, Proquest). We realized that there were three main options: 
  • To use one of the ready-made solutions, with the risk of become dependent technologically and financially on external platforms; 
  • To build our own cathedral, which entailed considerable development, with the risk of getting stuck in issues not directly related to the substantial part of the project (historical research)
  • To opt for the bazaar, namely to use existing technological bricks adapted to the tasks we wanted to perform and to connect them in a seamless workflow. This solution entailed not just the IT specialists connecting the bricks, but the historians getting their hands dirty (learning how to code).
There was a challenge in getting over the reluctance to step into unknown territory (coding), but this approach proved particularly fruitful and positive:
  • We developed an evolving flexible infrastructure based on user awareness and input
  • The members of the team discussed the technical challenges in the light of theirs needs for historical research
The final (but evolving) result is the set of connected technological bricks displayed below.