Über DACHS

What is the Digital Archive for Chinese Studies (DACHS)?
Why web archiving?
What is our collection policy?
What about sensitive materials?
What about social media content?
Who can access the archive?
Why are some pages not archived successfully?
Are there other web archives?
How large is DACHS?

What is the Digital Archive for Chinese Studies (DACHS)?

DACHS collects and preserves website resources relevant for Chinese Studies, with special focus on social and political discourse. The main aim is to make the collected data available for researchers and scholars in the future.

Why web archiving?

The World Wide Web is an everyday reality for all of us. Not only do we access information on the internet but we also create our own online presence on social media platforms or blogs. It has simply become a mirror of the society. The web allows us to follow public discourse on certain subjects or analyze contents of websites regarding political, social and cultural significance
As one of the world’s largest online community and despite the tight control on website contents by the Chinese government, the new media technology allows the netizens in China to express themselves more freely and circulate information fast and widely. Therefore, preserving websites of valuable content is obviously of high interest to researchers in the field of Chinese Studies. However, in general the average lifetime of a website is actually very short. The information or resources on the web constantly change, are replaced or even disappear, especially in China. In order to prevent all those valuable material from being permanently lost, our purpose is to identify, archive and provide accessibility to websites relevant for Chinese Studies. The DACHS project wants to contribute to maintain the content of websites for research in the future.

What is our collection policy?

Generally speaking, everything about and around China could be of interest for future research in the field of Chinese studies. However, since it is beyond our possibilities to preserve all of this without distinction, we have developed certain strategies to create a meaningful web archive. Furthermore, our selection choices are based on human judgment which admittedly is always subjective. But given our so-called “information network” consisting of scholars with different expertise on China, we believe that the selection is consciously made at a broad range of issues.

To be archived, websites should meet the following criteria:

  • Valuable and relevant for current and future research in the field of Chinese Studies
  • Highly volatile (e.g. due to the censorship policy of the Chinese government)
  • Critical events or issues that are hotly debated among Chinese netizens or experts
  • By or about people with important contributions and social influence
  • Generally, high priority is given to subjects of social and political significance, as well as special topics such as internet and censorship, human rights and environmental issues

More specifically, DACHS is divided into 5 types of collections:

  1. Ongoing collections: Captures mostly dynamic websites that change their content frequently, such as periodicals and blogs. These websites are archived at regular intervals in order to ensure that new content is preserved
  2. Event-based collections: A given event is identified as significant and therefore material both on the particular event as well as related reactions are archived so they can be followed by posterity. We have created event-driven collections for instance on the Tiananmen incident and on the Olympic games in Beijing 2008
  3. Topic driven collections:  The collection is built around topics with a special focus on the subjects meeting the criteria mentioned above. Since the beginning of 2013 we have for instance paid particular attention to websites about and around the new term “China’s dream”.
  4. Special collections: This category contains a selection of internet resources on specific topics that have been donated by members of the institute. The recent collection on the Nanfang Zhoumou incident, for instance, is a contribution of students who participated in the course "China Digital" given by Lorenz Bichler at the Institute of Chinese Studies, Heidelberg University.
  5. Citation repository: Today, internet resources are frequently used and cited in academic publications. However, citing online resources is problematic as they might change or even be removed overnight. DACHS provides a “Citation repository” in order to preserve cited web resources, thus making them accessible to readers in the future. Most recently this service has been used for the award winning monograph "A Continuous Revolution: Making Sense of Cultural Revolution Culture", by Prof. Barbara Mittler.

What about sensitive materials?

Sensitive material considered to be significant for China Studies may become part of DACHS as well. However, access is restricted to designated researchers or might be on quarantine for a certain period of time. For an overview of the collections in our archive, visit the “Browse DACHS” page.

What about social media content?

The increasing influence and thus importance of social media is beyond any doubt. Therefore, we regard the content of social media as an important target for archiving. It not only amplifies the voices of Chinese citizens but also allows us to capture different perspectives on a specific topic only available in form of blogs, posts, tweets and comments.
So far, we are archiving a number of blogs of popular and influential Chinese netizens. As of April 2013, we have begun to include microblogs such as twitter and weibo into our digital collection. However, the structure and design of social media websites pose considerable challenges for web archiving, especially when it comes to web discussions. Currently, we are not able to archive the complete recording of comments on the social media websites. Moreover, the pages might not be captured or displayed properly.

Who can access the archive?

DACHS serves exclusively the purpose of scientific research. While the metadata section of DACHS is open to everyone, access to the documents and resources themselves is restricted. To access the archive you will need to apply for a login.

Why are some pages not archived successfully?

Our intent is to present the website content in an authentic context. However, this does not mean that every link between websites or elements is preserved. You might note that some archived websites are incomplete or are not displayed in their original form. Often this is due to the limitations of available download software. The complex and quickly evolving web technology inhibits us from harvesting every element of a website. However, we are constantly aiming at improving our IT infrastructure in order to provide an enduring environment for long term preservation of digital data.

Are there other web archives?

We have put together a selection of web archives around the world. Please note, however, that this list does not try to be complete.

How large is DACHS?

The DACHS project started to collect websites and digital born files in August 2001. Since then thousands of websites have been collected. Please check the statistic page for up to date figures on the size of DACHS.

Zuletzt bearbeitet von: RS
Letzte Änderung: 06.06.2016
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