Vision and Commitment：A History of the Development of Digital Humanities at the Academia Sinica
The fruitful result of the digitization of Taiwan’s cultural heritage does not emerge ex nihilo. Vision and Commitment：A History of the Development of Digital Humanities at Academia Sinica offers a testimonial account of the history and development of Digital Humanities at Academia Sinica with interviews of nearly 40 individuals who have been involved in the course of events. They recall the long path of digitization in the past three decades; and their stories about such a “digital contribution” are told in the spirit aspiring to “accomplish without claiming” the honors due to their dedication.
In the 1960s, the introduction of computer spurred the advance of information technology and triggered what can be called as phases of digital movement. Developed countries started digitizing important national cultural heritage one after another; hindered by the barrier of language, Taiwan fell behind. It was not until the 1980s that the difficult problem of Sinicizing computer system was finally solved. Taiwan, led by Academia Sinica and a number of other institutions, caught up forthwith, and eventually in the 1990s gained international leadership in building databases of Chinese literature.
In the process of fostering a digital culture in Taiwan, Academia Sinica always plays the role of a vanguard. It launched the Automatization of Chinese History Corpus (史籍自動化計畫 ; 1984-1993) and the Scripta Sinica Database Project (漢籍全文資料庫計畫; 1994 till now). From 1998 to 2015 it led the following mile-stone projects funded by then National Science Council, Executive Yuan (now the Ministry of Science and Technology): the Digital Museum Project, the National Digital Archives Program (NDAP), the Taiwan e-Learning and Digital Archives Program, (TELDAP), and the Sustainable Management of Taiwan Digital Archives Project. This is a perfect example of utilizing state resources to lay the foundation for national digital archives. A total of 560 million digital files and more than 760 websites/databases have been established. Alongside these efforts a body of metadata has been created according to international standard, paving the way for Taiwan’s achievements toward the global community.
In 2013, the Academia Sinica Center for Digital Cultures (ASCDC) was founded. Aside from continuing to elevate the accessibility and enlarging digital resources, the Center also aims at (1) promoting and creating cultures through digital means; (2) facilitating research on Digital Humanities based on a well-bodied cultural substance; and (3) experimenting with the idea to bring culture in harmony with digital technologies in order to pioneer in defining the values of Taiwan’s Digital Humanities.
Thirty years have gone by since Taiwan went on this journey of digital culture. The efforts were initiated by governmental agencies such as Academia Sinica and gradually expanded to every branch in private sectors. In the future, such an undertaking will be in the hands of millions of individuals. All of these are calibrated in the vision and commitment of Academia Sinica.
In retrospect this book pays tribute to numerous unknown heroes who worked with Academia Sinica and made great “digital contributions” to Taiwan without ever claiming their accomplishment.
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About the Director:
Lin Fu-shih is Research Fellow at the Institute of History and Philology and Director of the Center for Digital Cultures, Academia Sinica. Lin’s involvement dates back to 1985, when the Automatization of the Chinese History Corpus commenced. In the 1990s Lin returned to Taiwan with a PhD degree from Princeton University to answer the call for building the infrastructure of Digital Humanities. He has co-hosted the National Digital Archives Projects (sub-projects, Stage I & II) and hosted some subprojects of Taiwan Digital Archives Expansion Project.
About the Author:
Tsao Ming-tsung is a writer interested in the history and literature of Taiwan. He has been a journalist and editor of United Daily News (聯合報); part-time Lecturer at the Department of Chinese Literature, Tunghai University; author-in-residence at National Chung Hsing University; and planner of special report of “數位@文化.tw”.