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Home > iSGTW - 14 July 2010 > Image of the Week - Digital, in both senses of the word

Image of the Week: Digital, in both senses of the word


Information at your fingertips — and between them. Image courtesy Department of Anthropology, National Taiwan University

Jieh Hsiang, director of the Research Center of Digital Humanities at the National Taiwan University, likes to draw an important distinction between the goal of digital archives, which is to store information, and that of digital humanities, which is to discover new research issues buried in the digits. As an example, he points to studies of old land deeds in Taiwan. His research center has recovered over 32,000 such land deeds from before 1900. With the right tools, it is possible to extract from them insights into the social and economic evolution of the time, and even gleen the state of race relationships between the aboriginal Taiwanese and Chinese originating from the mainland at that time. The land deed pictured here has information stored between the digits in a quite literal sense. Chinese characters alternate with the digits of the owners’ hand prints. Digital humanities have been a focus point of activity for the EUAsiaGrid project, of which Academia Sinica in Taipei is the lead Asian partner.

—François Grey, for iSGTW

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