Dam Across the Yangtze - Promise or Threat?
28 February 2003
EDTEC541 Online Spring 2003
Problem, Need, or
in prehistoric times the Yangtze River has been both the primary lifeline
and the most destructive force in what is now Central China. For the past
century, the Chinese government has considered ways to harness the Yangtze's
strength and tame it's devastating power. A decade ago, the government
set out to accomplish this goal as they began construction of what will
be the world's largest dam when completed in 2009.
anticipate that the Three Gorges Dam will produce hydroelectric power
equivalent to 15 nuclear power plants, dramatically improve navigability
for commercial shipping and moderate the river's deadliest floods that
have swept away thousands of people, businesses and even entire villages
over the years. But as with any undertaking of this magnitude, the project
is not without controversy. Critics say that the social, cultural and
environmental costs coupled with the potential danger relating to any
engineering flaws or miscalculations in the dam's construction far outweigh
everyone from students to financiers to social activists, a number of
existing web sites present one side or the other of this debate. However,
few present both sides evenly to let the viewer decide. The objective
of this site is to build an information resource that presents a historical
context for this project and provides a balance of reference data both
supportive and critical of the endeavor.
Yangtze River is a remote destination for many people who might be interested,
use of multimedia gives the site's audience an opportunity to see, hear
and feel (in the figurative sense) aspects of the subject to which they
might not otherwise have access.
for this site is limited in some respects and broad in others. It is limited
because, outside of the Yangtze region, most people are barely aware of
its existence. Although hundreds of millions of people - whose lives are
being drastically affected by this project - live within the region, their
access to information is highly restricted and few of them speak English.
This site therefore is primarily directed towards students, teachers,
social and environmental activists, tourists and travel professionals
and others who may have a general interest in this region. A secondary
audience may include researchers and journalists who might find the site
a good starting point for exploration of the subject.
site will be a starting point, it is expected that its users will have
little familiarity with the subject, however they will tend to be the
sorts of people who are intellectually curious and reasonably intelligent.
a number of people who are interested in geopolitical subjects to find
out what they would find interesting and useful in a site such as this.
- They were
interested in a historical background
- They wanted
to see a map of the area
- They wanted
to see some sort of before and after renderings
- They were
interested in photos of areas that would be affected
- They wanted
a reference section that had links to more detailed sites about specific
aspects of the subject that might include engineering analysis, environmental
research, archeological details and similar issues
most likely be accessing this site through their home computer or possibly
computers available at a school or library. The site will contain numerous
photos and illustrations that will be optimized for web viewing. It will
also contain some short videos that may require a plug-in or faster connection,
but they will be configured not to interfere with the viewing experience
of visitors who have a slow connection. Visitors who wish to print information
from the site will require a printer.
Resources and Limitations
I have chosen
this topic because I gathered most of the photo and video resources needed
during a recent journey up the Yangtze. I may seek permission to use photos
that others have taken earlier in the project to show the progress. I
believe that I can obtain maps from government public domain sources or
from a subscription that I have to a clip art service that allows any
use except reselling the graphics to third parties. I plan to do some
illustrations and animations myself. I have written a lot of the text
already in correspondence to friends about my trip and will generate the
rest using the materials that I collected as a reference.
If this site
were being done "for real," I would plan to update the contents
at least quarterly until the dam is completed, but that is not likely
to happen. Due to time limitations, the content will be truncated as necessary
to be completed by the deadline.
do not speak Chinese, most of my information will be gathered from sources
printed in English, but I obtained many of these in China, so I hope to
maintain the balance of information that I am seeking.
site, users seeking information about the Three Gorges Dam Project will
have a foundation for their research as well as an overview of the project
to satisfy their curiosity. For the user with a casual interest, it will
probably provide more information than they want to know, but it will
be presented in such a way that they can easily find the details they
seek. For the more serious student or researcher, it will be a starting
point with links to many related sites that will provide more comprehensive
information about areas of special interest.