X-Boorman offers two parallel pathways to explore the biographies that constitute the Biographical Dictionary of Republican China (BDRC): an exploration through Padagraph, a graph-generating application, and through a direct access to an enhanced textual version of the biographies. The Index-Glossaries section provides tool for the conversion of names between Wade & Giles, pinyin, and Chinese.
Padagraph is a graph application for the exploration of large-scale textual corpora. It can create links between any element present in a text and project these elements and their links in a virtual 3-D plane. The elements are represented by symbols (icons) from which the reader can start a new exploration at any time. In the current instance of Padaraph in X-Boorman, we propose by default a person-to-person graph. The graph contains all the 3,678 individuals mentioned in the various biographies and their connections with these biographies. The exploration can start from any node in the graph and follow any path the reader wants to take. The creators of Padagraph are Pierre Magistry and Yannick Chudy.
The basics to explore the biographies in Padagraph are as follows: the square symbols [+ Name in pinyin and Chinese] represent the individuals who are the object of a biography, while the circle symbols [+ Name in Wade & Giles transliteration] represent the individuals mentioned in a biography. The same person will appear twice, as a square (as a biographed person/biography) or as a mentioned individual. For example, Sun Zhongshan appears as "孫中山 Sun Zhongshan" (his biography) and "Sun Yat-sen" (his mentions in other biographies).
To start exploring, if nothing is being displayed, click on the "Global" button at the bottom of the screen. It will create the default graph. When you explore the graph, you can always click again on the "Global" button to come back to the default graph. You can add new nodes to the graph by groups of ten by clicking on the "+10" button next to "Global". This will expand the graph accordingly with all the related links.
To select a node, just mouse over any node. Padagraph will automatically highlight the selected node, as well as the links and the related nodes. Right click once on the selected node and Padagraph will display a new side window with the information about the node. In the case of biographies — square symbol — the side window will display the introductory paragraph of the biography, the list of all the names mentioned in the biography, and a link to the text of the biography [not activated yet due to the copyright issue]. In the case of mentions of individuals, the side window will display the list of all the biographies in which the selected individual is mentioned.
The side window also provides the possibility to explore further the connections between individuals and the biographies, either by selecting the neighbors (connected nodes) of the selected individual ("neighbors" button) or by making the selected node the point of departure of a new exploration "restart from this node" button). One can also click on any name listed in the side window to select this node and start a new exploration. The color of the nodes has no significance. The colors serve to visually distinguish the different nodes. The size of the nodes, however, is proportional to the number of links an individual has, either as the object of a biography (number of individuals mentioned in that biography) or as a mentioned individual (total number of mentions in other biographies).
There is a search field at the bottom of the screen to query and select directly an individual. This is a rule-based search field. As soon as one types a string of characters, a pop-up window will display suggested names. Click on the "Add to the view" to add the selected node to the current graph or click on "Explore" to take the selected name as the point of departure of a new graph.
The graph can be moved laterally or vertically by clicking anywhere in the graph and move the graph while maintaining the click on the mouse. On the left -hand side of the graph, there is a menu to Zoom in (+ lens) and out (- lens), to enlarge or decrease the size of the labels (A+, A-). The small "arrow head" button can make the graph move automatically. It is also possible to choose between a 2-D visualization (default) or a 3-D visualization by clicking on the 2D/3D button.
The figures displayed in the left-hand side menu indicate the number of displayed nodes (circle) and links (dash). In each case, if one clicks on these symbols, a pop-up window appears that provides more information on the distribution of nodes (entry = biography, mention = mention). Click again to make the window go away. The small cube at the bottom of the menu allows the reader to modify the layout of the graph by selecting a different algorithm. The cogwheel provides ways to modify the display and layout by modifying the parameters of the graph. Beware that if you modify the parameters, it will definitely change the layout and you will lose the initial layout unless you restore the original parameters. If you get lost, just open again the graph from the original link in this section.
The second pathway is a conventional entry through the list of biographies in the "The Biographies" menu. Biographies are listed alphabetically, as in the original work, but we have enhanced the reading by creating links between the 3,678 names of individuals mentioned in the biographies, including the 589 figures who are the object of a biography, and the various biographies. We have also added, whenever possible, the Chinese characters to the name of the works cited in the biographies.
At this stage, we can only make available a set of five biographies. The BDRC is still protected by copyrights owned by Columbia University Press. We have received the approval by Columbia University Press to make all the biographies available, but we can only make this happen after we sign a formal license. We are very grateful that Columbia University supports this project and it future developments.
We have also produced a glossary to facilitate queries in the biographies. This is meant to serve as tools for conversion from Wade & Giles to pinyin and vice versa. In the index for persons, we converted their Wade & Giles transliteration into pinyin whenever we had a complete name (e.g. Hsu Shih-ch'ang vs. N.T. Hsiung). In the latter case, since there is no way to know what the initials refer to, we did not convert to pinyin.
For the 585 institutions — this includes any kind of organization (club, association, company, ministry, school, etc.) — since the names were usually provided in English in the biographies, this remains the norm to make queries. Yet, for the Chinese and Japanese institutions, we endeavored as much as we could to add the original Chinese or Japanese characters of the original name.
Finally, a total of 1,415 place names appear in the BDRC. For the place names in China (860), we added pinyin and the Chinese characters to the most frequently mentioned locations (>10).