PhotoGuide Japan Reborn!!!

I am proud to present PhotoGuide Japan’s biggest update in its 7-year history.

Major structural and technical improvements have been incorporated along with updated and expanded information.

Here’s a few of the changes and improvements:

– The site’s content has been reorganized into four distinct Zones to make it easier to find things:
1. NewsZONE – Read news & information.
2. DirectoryZONE – Look up addresses & phone numbers.
3. PhotoZONE – View photos.
4. PhotoBBS – Message boards.

– Much of the site is now database-driven with dynamic Web pages.
– The site is more interactive. For example, you can add comments on dynamic Web pages.
– The site’s look and feel has changed dramatically.
– The URLs have changed for most pages (except the home page and PhotoReviews). Redirect pages are in place.

Enough said. Time for you to look around and re-explore PhotoGuide Japan. If you want more details about this massive update, click on the “Read more” link below.

Here’s a detailed list of the major changes at PhotoGuide Japan as of March 3, 2003:

Photo topics have been reorganized into four Zones
The old site had too many Zones (‘ZineZONE, PhotoZONE, DataZONE, ResourceZONE, HistoryZONE, and DirectoryZONE) so I simplified it into four Zones (categories). I think it’s easier now to remember where everything is.

Database-driven with dynamic Web pages
The advantages of a database-driven site is that it enables the Web pages to be dynamic instead of static. The site becomes more interactive. For example, you can post comments to a page on the fly or submit listings and links.

And for me, I can easily update the site through a Web interface. I don’t have to startup Dreamweaver, modify the page, then upload it.

PhotoReviews unaffected
PhotoReviews has not been affected by this massive update. It will continue to consist of static Web pages for the time being. PhotoReviews already underwent a massive facelift last year.

PhotoHistory now dynamic
Besides the additional pages for the years 2002 and 2003, PhotoHistory now sports a new look and consists of dynamic Web pages. You can add comments under any page. The top URL remains the same, but the underlying pages are all different.

PhotoWho’sWho now dynamic
All biographies now have their own Web page, so all the URLs in PhotoWho’sWho have changed. You can post comments to any biography.

I’ve also included some biographies in Japanese. And the longer bios use a new, easy-to-read format.

PhotoSpaces now dynamic
Massive update. I’ve added a lot more galleries and museums. There’s now over 240 listings for all of Japan. Names and addresses in English and Japanese and directions to the place are also provided. Even Japanese visitors will find PhotoSpaces useful.

New DirectoryZONE
This Zone has Photo topics that used to be under the old DataZONE, ResourceZONE, and DirectoryZONE. All the Photo topics in DirectoryZONE are now run by the same database system to create an online address book.

Most of the Photo topics (like PhotoVendors and PhotoBookshops) in DirectoryZONE also cover areas outside Tokyo such as Osaka and Kyoto.

One convenient feature is My Custom List. You can keep your own list of favorite camera shops, bookstores, etc., on a Web page at DirectoryZONE. You only need to have cookies enabled on your browser.

What’s New
We now have a dedicated and dynamic What’s New page to keep you informed of all site updates.

PhotoPolls
New! From time to time we will add more online surveys (mainly for fun or as a tidbit).

PhotoFAQ
Now interactive. You can help us add more FAQs by posting a question for us to answer.

PhotoWeblinks
Now you can submit links (subject to approval).

PhotoDealers
This is now a list of stock photo agencies and vintage photo dealers.

Unchanged Photo topics
PhotoJapanese
PostcardGuide
KIPS Report
TIPS Report
PhotoZONE (PhotoShowcase, PhotoExposure, and PhotoPostcards)
PhotoBBS (PhotoBulletin, PhotoDigest, PhotoPR, etc.) – PhotoBBS was introduced in July 2002, and it was our first database-driven section.

Deleted Photo topics and Zones
‘ZineZONE, HistoryZONE, DataZONE, and ResourceZONE have been deleted. Their Photo topics have been moved to one of the four new Zones.
PhotoPeriodicals: This topic will eventually be transferred to PhotoReviews’ magazine section.
PhotoAgencies: This topic has been transferred to PhotoDealers.

And so, we’re back on top as the world’s most comprehensive (but far from complete) English resource and guide to photography in Japan. Finally, I can call this PhotoGuide Japan, Version 1.0. This is the version I originally wanted to present the first time I put the site online in 1996. Finally, we’re coming of age.

But we still got a lot of growing and maturing to do. This is only a new foundation that we have laid. One which should last for the next few years as we further grow and mature.

-philbert ono
Tokyo, Japan

P.S. You are welcome to post a comment below this note. Just click on the “Post comment” button below.

PhotoGuide Japan Roadmap for 2003

At the top of the agenda is the ongoing conversion to a database-driven site. It’s a lot of work, but progressing nicely. It should be ready in Jan. or Feb. Here’s a brief sample of the site’s major changes:

  • The site will have three major database-driven modules. One for textual information, one for photos (already in place), and one for contact addresses and phone numbers like a phone book.
  • The photographers’ biographies in PhotoWho’sWho will be totally revamped and each biography will have its own Web page. Many biographies will also include a Japanese-language bio. People can also post a comment on the page for any questions, corrections, or supplemental information.
  • PhotoHistory will also be database-driven and people will be able to post comments. PhotoHistory for 2002 will also be added.
  • PhotoSpaces, which lists photo galleries and museums in Japan, will also be totally revamped and database-driven. Many more galleries and museums all over Japan will be added. Addresses will be in both English and Japanese.
  • Besides PhotoSpaces, other directory-type sections such as PhotoVendors and PhotoBookstores that consist of contact addresses and phone numbers will be in an online database. If you become a registered user (free), you can select your favorite listings of photo galleries, bookshops, etc., and assemble them on your own customized Web page at PhotoGuide Japan. You can then have quick access to your favorite photo-related businesses.

After that, there will be more online photos of Japan and a major update of PhotoJapanese (Japanese lessons for the photographer) and other outdated sections.

Hope to see you often in 2003!

PhotoBBS Now Open!

For a long time, I’ve debated over having a message board system. My excuse was always “I wouldn’t have the time to properly nurture and take care of it.”

But I could never stop thinking about the potential benefits of having a message board (also called BBS or forum). It would make some things convenient, such as exhibition and event notices submitted directly by users. An online community might also develop. I’m not too confident about seeing an active online community develop because Japanese photography is not exactly a hot topic except for camera owners seeking support and people outside Japan wanting to know camera prices in Japan.

So all I can do is give it a shot and see how it goes.

I was very fortunate to have a friend tell me about this terrific message board software called phpbb. It’s so good (and secure) that it makes it fun to operate a message board. Out of all the great features it has, I like the multilingual support the best. This is really important for bilingual people like me. Registered users can set the message board’s user interface to any of the major languages of the world including Japanese. You can type Japanese anywhere on this message board.

And since this message board is hosted by PhotoGuide Japan instead of a third party (like Yahoo Groups), we have complete control over everything.

Right now there are 10 or so different message boards under PhotoBBS. I can add more at anytime. If there is a demand, I can even create a private (or public) message board for special interest groups. It could be area-based (such as for photographers in Hokkaido, Osaka, Kyushu, etc.), subject-based (such as Japanese vintage photography), or occupation-based (postcard collectors, women photographers in Japan, etc.). So if you know a bunch of like-minded friends looking for a good (and free) message board to join, consider PhotoGuide Japan’s PhotoBBS.

The possibilities and potential benefits are too many to ignore. So finally, our first message board system. Hope you like it and use it!

Update: PhotoBBS was shut down and replaced by PhotoGuide Japan News in July 2010.

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