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Best Practice Presentation: Linked Data as Method for Supporting DH-Research on the Cultural Resources of Chinese Wooden Slips and the Interpretation of Ancient Chinese Characters

Title:Linked Data as Method for Supporting DH-Research on the Cultural Resources of Chinese Wooden Slips and the Interpretation of Ancient Chinese Characters
Date:2020-09-15 07:00
Resources:



	Sophy Chen
Sophy Chen
Academia Sinica Center for Digital Cultures, Taiwan
Sophy Shu-Jiun Chen is the Assistant Research Fellow at the Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica, and also the Executive Secretary of Academia Sinica Center for Digital Cultures(ASCDC). She received her M.A. degree in Information Studies from the University of Sheffield, UK in 1997, and Ph.D. degree in Library and Information Science from the National Taiwan University in 2012. Dr. Chen is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor of the Graduate Institute of Library & Information Studies, National Taiwan Normal University. Her research interests include digital libraries, metadata, ontologies, Linked Data, knowledge organization, and digital humanities. She initiated the Research Project of Chinese-language AAT (Art & Architecture Thesaurus) with the Getty Research Institute, USA since 2008, and founded the [email protected] since 2018.



	Lu-Yen Lu
Lu-Yen Lu
Academia Sinica Center for Digital Cultures, Taiwan
Currently worked as a research assistant in the LODLab at the Academia Sinica Center for Digital Cultures(ASCDC) in Taiwan (ROC) since 2016. His major interests lie in the semantic data model design for data object-related cultural heritage information, pre-processing for LOD-based data conversion, and application of LOD datasets for textual and visual studies enhancing the field of digital humanities research.

Abstract
Linked Data (or Linked Open Data, LOD) can be applied not only as an effective method to integrate description-based data from different sources, but also to support digital humanities focusing on image-based content with implementation of other technical standards. This study takes information from the wooden slip relics of the Chinese Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD) and the ancient Chinese characters written on them, as an example case to report how the combination of linked data, an integrative Chinese Wooden Slips Ontology, and the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) can facilitate digital humanities (DH) research, especially for interpreting ancient Chinese characters.

The study is based on the results of the “Wooden Slips Character Dictionary” (簡牘字典系統/ WCD), launched by the Academia Sinica Center for Digital Cultures (ASCDC) as an online system to demonstrate the possibility of integrative application of different ontologies and vocabularies to deal with linked data for DH research. To achieve the aforesaid purpose, the study has developed an “integrative Chinese Wooden Slips Ontology.” The main purpose of the ontological design is to support DH scholarship in the research field of ancient Chinese characters and their interpretation, and also serve as a basic data model for structuring an online retrieval system of Chinese characters across different institutes. The integrative Chinese Wooden Slips Ontology is designed based on the CIDOC-CRM model, which contains four different data models of specific fields to enhance the detailed and accurate description of single wooden slips and the information about each written character. The CRM-based data model is extended to enrich the detailed data on each written Chinese character, including temporal information of work production and annotation for the whole wooden slip or a single character. As a result, the CRM classes are extended as nodes to link with the different types of this integrative Chinese Wooden Slips Ontology. Since the ancient Chinese characters are written on fragile materials and easily become damaged or unrecognizable over time, the interpretation process of these characters has to rely on the support both of images and their metadata retrieval through sematic methods, such as IIIF and Linked Data. To read, recognize and compare writing manners between the same or similar written characters is one of the important methods used to interpret characters accurately. IIIF-based retrieval systems can help scholars to conduct research in a visually comfortable way. While interpreting the precise meaning of a written character within the whole text, obtaining information about the composition or annotation of a Chinese ancient glyph must depend on the LOD-based retrieval approach. ASCDC’s “Chinese characters and character realization ontology” and the “Web Annotation on Cultural heritage ontology” might offer a new approach to analyze this Chinese ancient cultural heritage via semantic methods. To extend and enhance the preliminary research results, images of single characters in the WCD system are further interoperated and retrievable in the union catalog of the “Multi-database Search System for Historical Chinese Characters” based on the IIIF-based API, which is established in cooperation with other international research communities, including the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Historiographical Institute of the University of Tokyo, National Institute of Japanese Language, National Institute for Japanese Language and Linguistics, and Institute for Research in Humanities at Kyoto University in Japan. The same Chinese characters from datasets of different institutes can be displayed in this collective interface, which supports the study of ancient Chinese characters. Links:

  1. Wooden Slips Character Dictionary: https://wcd-ihp.ascdc.sinica.edu.tw/woodslip/
  2. Multi-database Search System for Historical Chinese Characters: https://wcd-ihp.ascdc.sinica.edu.tw/union/