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On Setting Up The Sunflower Movement Archive (video)

[Note: My voice is terrible. YouTube has the same video but with subtitle. Please see below for voice-over script, slide-by-slide.]


In the late evening of March 18, 2014, students and activists stormed into and occupied the main chamber of Taiwan's Legislature. The event set off the Sunflower Movement, signifying a turning point in Taiwan's history. Researchers at Academia Sinica arranged to acquire all the supporting artifacts and documentary materials in the chamber before the protest came to a peaceful end. In this paper, we discuss the issues in archiving and making available to the public a large collection of artifacts created by thousands of participants in a contemporary event. We demonstrate systems designed to encourage people to identify items of their own in the archive. We show how an accessible catalog to the archive can help people tell their stories hence collectively may strengthen the public's recollections about the movement.

This presentation is prepared by Tyng-Ruey Chuang (莊庭瑞) for Digital Humanities 2017, August 8 - 11, Montreal, Canada. The video was produced with the help from Chih-Chuan Hsu (許致詮) and Huang-Sin Syu (許煌鑫).

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Voice-over Script, slide-by-slide:

  1. In this presentation we will overview the Sunflower Movement Archive at Academia Sinica, Taiwan.

    We will discuss the issues in archiving and making available to the public a large collection of artifacts created by thousands of participants in a contemporary event. We shall demonstrate a system designed to encourage people to identify items of their own in the archive.

    I am Tyng-Ruey Chuang from the Institute of Information Science, Academia Sinica.

  2. In the late evening of March 18, 2014, a small group of students stormed into the main chamber of the Taiwan's Legislature. The occupation was a protest of the pending signature of the Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement (CSSTA) with China. The occupation would take several weeks and grow into an island-wide movement with strong popular support.

    It was a major event in Taiwan, and continues to influence the political landscape and societal reflection in the country.

    The occupation was streamed live. When people retreated from the chamber they left behind a massive amount of supporting artifacts and documentary materials.

  3. Here are a few pictures on what it looked like in the occupied chamber. The image at the left showed students displaying the number of hours since occupation. The right is a picture showing the event being streamed live using the webcam on a tablet.

  4. This is a picture of the chamber after 296 hours of occupation. There were confrontations with the police in the very beginning, but the occupation remained peaceful afterward.

  5. As you can see from the picture, the mass media had set up broadcasting stations in the chamber. Please note that at the left side of the chamber, on the wall there was a large screen. What was happening outside was broadcasted live in the chamber too. Wifi and Internet access was soon set up. Communication was free in the chamber.

  6. People all over the world sent in supporting notes and letters. The notes were posted on the wall of the chamber.

  7. This picture shows a large panel filled with many sticky notes. If you read Chinese, you will see that the panel is from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. We will later use this panel as an example to show case the Archive.

  8. People were able to watch live the occupation on YouTube. Even today you can search the Internet for video recordings of the event.

  9. But of course these videos can be removed for many reasons. YouTube is not really an archiving platform.

  10. Historians in Academia Sinica reached an agreement with the students to systematically collect what were in the chamber before they would prepare to end the protest. All the artifacts have since been digitized and catalogued.

    But is that all we can do? What will be the purposes of archiving the artifacts? What about "born digital" materials like videos? We ask ourselves these questions.

    Our goal in setting up the archive has been in preserving the artifacts not only for research but also for the future generations. We hope that, by setting up this archive, collective memories about this event can be strengthened. What can we do to help achieve this goal?

  11. But first let me show you a few pictures of the collections when they first arrived at Academia Sinica.

  12. Many of the artifacts are art works, and they are in various conditions.

  13. They were sorted, numbered, and catalogued before they are digitized. The collections would fill an entire room.

  14. About one year after the event, we already had a web catalog of the digitized items in the collection. Public.318.io is the domain name of the website. Each digitized item has its own page on the web. In the page, there is a thumbnail image, as well as metadata, about the artifact. The site is text searchable.

  15. Take this item as an example. This is a pair of hand-painted panels. We take care to provide a brief description about the artifact. We also transcribed writing on the panels into searchable text in the catalogue.

    To strive for general access to the Sunflower Movement Archive probably is our topmost principle. On the one hand, making the archive publicly accessible keeps Academia Sinica accountable to the students about what it is doing. Academia Sinica will keep its promise in preserving all the artifacts it has acquired, and the proof is in the form of a Web catalog of all the digitized items. On the other hand, as the artifacts are made by individuals. The individuals' personal privacy, publicity rights, as well as copyrights can be vulnerable when digital copies of the artifacts are made available for all to download and reuse.

    Because of these considerations, only thumbnail images of the artifacts are made available on the catalogue. The thumbnails are useful for artifact identification. Otherwise they are of no plausible value. In addition, sensitive information inscribed on the artifacts, such as recognizable personal names and phone numbers, has to be pixelated to prevent misuse.

  16. Let me return to the panel sent in by the Chinese University of Hong Kong. As we can see in its page in the catalogue, sticky notes on the panel are individually digitized. The writing in each note is also transcribed.

  17. Take this note as an example. From the writing, we understand it is from a student at the Social Work Department.

  18. We can search the catalogue by the phrase "Social Work Department". Surely, we find this item. But we also find other items with "Social Work Department" in their metadata.

  19. One of the item is a video recording. Actually the video shows students from the Social Work Department of another university, the National University of Taipei. We have listened to the video and made a brief summary as part of its metadata. As a result, this item is text searchable. We acquired this video from its original producer. The producer had put the video in the public domain. We can watch the video online at the Archive.

  20. A feature is built into the catalog to allow registered users to identify artifacts of their own. Once identified, the user can choose to release the high-resolution image of the artifact to the public under a Creative Commons License. Or, to put it in the public domain by using the CC0 Public Domain Dedication. Of course he can also claim and reserve all copyrights to the work. In this case, the high-resolution image will not be made public.

    People have used this feature to find and release artifacts of their own. In the next few slides, we will do a fun demo.

  21. Let us do a search to the catalogue looking for "Sun Cake". "Sun Cake" is a soft, sweet, and round-shaped cake. It is a popular delicacy from the Taichung area in Taiwan. In the Sunflower Movement, the term "Sun Cake" has been used as a parody of the authority being clueless. As we can see in the page, we do find a real "Sun Cake" in the collection. Let us not eat it, however, as it is way over its expiration date. But suppose we want to claim copyright to this cake.

  22. This cake has its own web page. Every item in the catalogue has copyright information associated to it. This cake has unknown copyright status. Moreover, there is a "identify then license" yellow button on the page. If this is our cake, I am sorry, if this is our work, we can just click the button to identify it to be our creative work.

  23. After clicking the button, we can now put our name to it. For example, we decide this cake, this work, shall be attributed to this person called "trc". It shall also be released to the public under the CC BY 3.0 Taiwan license.

  24. There are also paper works to do. We shall then receive an e-mail message. In the message, we find a Declaration and License Agreement in which all the necessary information has been filled. We need to print it out, sign it, and send it back to Academia Sinica. NO STAMP REQUIRED when sending back the agreement.

  25. After Academia Sinica has received the signed license agreement, it will change the copyright status of the cake. Now it reads, "released to the public under the CC BY 3.0 Taiwan license".

  26. In summary, the Sunflower Movement Archive is designed to encourage public participation so as to deepen people's memories of the event. It has built-in features to allow self-identification of artifacts in the collection. We also feel it necessary to have a "Terms of Use" for the Archive website. By the Terms of Use, we are able to state, clearly, the purposes of the Archive, as well as various conditions and considerations in using the catalog. The Terms of Use keeps Archive users aware of the right of publicity, the right to privacy, and other rights of the individuals whose artifacts are collected in the Archive.

  27. The work on the Sunflower Movement Archive has been funded by Academia Sinica, Taiwan. It is a collaboration between the Institute of History and Philology and the Institute of Information Science. Digital Memory Asia did all the digitization works. Word Gleaner built all the information systems.

  28. These are the faces of the people working on the project. Some of them are very shy. I shall not try to call their names here.

  29. Please visit The Sunflower Movement Archive at public.318.io. This presentation is released under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.


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