Below is the first edition of the Marco Polo Project newsletter. To subscribe, please contact us at info@marcopoloproject.org

                                                                 August 2012

Welcome to the first edition of the Marco Polo Project eNewsletter

 News

In August, we launched our new translation interface. Our users can now translate directly from the front-page, with side-by-side bilingual text display. We wish to thank our programmer Guillaume Mauboussin for his work on this plugin.

We’ve also set up a twitter account, with the help of Fergus Ryan and Alex Gibson – you can follow us on @mpoloproject for updates – or like our facebook page, Marco Polo Project.

 Partnerships

In mid-August, the China in the World Institute at ANU launched the China Story, a web-based account of contemporary China. We’re very proud to collaborate with them through our translation work and weekly digest on danwei.com, and strongly encourage you to visit their website for high-quality analysis on contemporary China.

In September, Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris will start using our platform as part of their Chinese curriculum, so look out for more translations into French!

 Highlights

Our new contributor, Lesley McLachlan, submitted a series of editorials fromChina Newsweek  – follow 6 months of discussion on Chinese affairs in Chinese and English.

Looking for something original to translate? You could try a piece by Li Yehang, exploring religious issues in China from a Christian perspective.

 Help Us Grow

The Marco Polo Project is a living online community. Without you, we do not exist. Now we need your help to grow.

So that a larger audience can learn about us, please talk about the Marco Polo Project around you, send a link to your friends, or share our translations on Facebook, Twitter, Renren or Weibo.We are also looking for donations and sponsorships, to support further web development. If you think you can help, please contact us at Info@marcopoloproject.org.

The Marco Polo Project http://marcopoloproject.org

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Below is the first edition of the Marco Polo Project newsletter. To subscribe, please contact us at info@marcopoloproject.org

                                                                 August 2012

Welcome to the first edition of the Marco Polo Project eNewsletter

 News

The new Marco Polo Project website went live in February 2012. Since then, our developers have been working in the dark to make the platform more user-friendly. A significant improvement to our translating interface is underway, and should come up in the next few weeks. So get ready for a better Marco Polo Project experience!

Meanwhile, people are talking about us – with interviews on ABC Radio National’s lingua Franca, SBS Italian, and Jean-Michel Billaut’s blog.

 Partnerships

Since June 8, we have been publishing a weekly digest of the Chinese online magazine 1510 on the English language Danwei website. To listen in on conversations from the Chinese blogosphere, keep an eye on this column.

On July 18, we held our first Marco Polo translation workshop in Melbourne at the Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas. If you are in Melbourne and would like to join, please contact us at info@marcopoloproject.org

 Highlights

A smoker’s frustrated Visit To Hong Kong, a reflection on Politics And Stability, or a personal meditation on Animal Suffering. Read about this and more at the Marco Polo Project.

Or if you would like to practice, why don’t you translate one of the stories from Shu Dong, and give non Mandarin speakers an insight into Chinese ways of articulating feelings and emotions.

 Help Us Grow

The Marco Polo Project is a living online community. Without you, we do not exist. Now we need your help to grow.

So that a larger audience can learn about us, please talk about the Marco Polo Project around you, send a link to your friends, or share our translations on Facebook, Twitter, Renren or Weibo.We are also looking for donations and sponsorships, to support further web development. If you think you can help, please contact us at Info@marcopoloproject.org

The Marco Polo Project http://marcopoloproject.org

Terms | Privacy policy

Fau-Zii and I decided to outsource some of the programming work, so that we could finally bring the website to an acceptable level – enough that we could start advertising, testing and recruiting users.

I guess we’re at this point now. Done. Ready to go. We’re on!

The Marco Polo Project wishes you a Happy New Year! We are entering our second year of existence, and looking forward to new developments ahead.

2012 will be a crucial year for our project: we will launch a fully operational version of our platform, actively seek sponsors and grants, and publicise our website extensively. So this is the test of reality coming for us. Will people commit to our vision, and trust us to deliver our program? We shall see.

But before this happens, we still have a solid month of preparation work – so get ready for January!

A few days ago, I exchanged emails with Jeremy Goldkorn, who runs the wonderful Danwei online magazine. I was introduced to Jeremy through Professor Geremie Barme at ANU, himself introduced by Jill Collins at the Australian Embassy in Beijing. Thank you networks! It is really precious, when you start a project like this one, to received some attention and support.

I was thrilled when I saw Jeremy’s email. He’s a legend – he’s been one of the most influential online writers in China for the last 8 years. And now he’s giving us advice. He confirmed our initial thought that crowd-sourcing would only really work if we built solid partnerships with teaching institutions, who would feed a regular inflow of fresh and motivated translators to our website. He also expressed concern about the quality of our translations – something most people have talked about. We will need to think about it more deeply, maybe find a way to pay translators to review advanced work, or have ‘sponsored’ articles, with a reward for the translator.

But now, my main feeling is confidence in the possibilities of the internet. Jeremy was very friendly, and very quick to contact us. Earlier this year, I had a similar thrill when I contacted Meedan.net, and they got back to us rightaway, telling us about their web system.

Right, we’re still a bunch of random friends buidling a website in our study. But I can see how, slowly, we’re beginning to exist as a group with a mission. It’s a great transition, towards a proper collective. Thank you Danwei for the tips. Let’s do this thing!

Back in Melbourne after two months in Tianjin, it’s time to launch the second phase of development for Marco Polo Project.

While in China, I made good contact with Nicolas Idier and Jill Collins at the French and Australian Embassy. I also talked extensively with Juliette Salabert, director of Alliance Francaise in Tianjin.

This Chinese time did not make me doubt about the feasibility of Marco Polo. The Chinese people I met, whether students at Alliance Francaise or friends of friends, were all very keen to promote Chinese culture, intent on improving their English and any other language they spoke, and constantly plugged into the internet. Idealistic only children are ideal users for our website!

So now, let’s get the thing started, and launch an improved version. Nicolas mentioned the possibility of taking part in French-Chinese cultural events or, if not, he offered to circulate our business cards at the many literary events that he attends around China. High level marketing – let’s be worthy of the generous offer. To work!