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The East Asian Calligraphy Challenge

Scope and Purpose

The East Asian Calligraphy Challenge enables users to interact with texts in the collection by digitally practicing Asian calligraphy that coordinates with characters on the pages they are researching.


This interactive tool will allow users to see the process it takes to make one Asian calligraphic character; therefore, helping users gain an appreciation for the work that went into making the texts that contain thousands of these calligraphic characters. As an ordered art form, Asian calligraphy takes great practice and time to ensure perfection in each brushstroke. By using this interactive tool, users will be able to experience the process with a bit of instant gratification in that they won’t need any physical materials (brush, ink, paper) typically associated with practicing Asian calligraphy. One limitation is writing the algorithmic code that corrects users if their input does not directly resemble the example characters. Another limitation is incorporating this interactive tool into the preexisting layout of the East Asian texts on the Princeton University Digital Library website so that they are not intrusive to users who just wish to read the texts and not participate with the interactive tool. A third limitation is that many of these texts have been printed with moveable type and printmaking processes. Since they are not handwritten, users may not understand the comparison of digitally drawing the characters and relating them to the texts. Intended users are researchers, teachers, and hobbyists, as well as the general public. My overall goal is for users to gain appreciation of Asian calligraphic characters and the process of writing them.


This demo juxtaposes the technologies I have found and shows the process, various websites, and technology sources that I have used to create this proposal. It illustrates the overall technology component I would like to add to the Princeton University Digital Library’s East Asian text’s webpages. You can see the demo I have created by following this link:


This project was inspired by two main ideas. The first was to incorporate the items I was digitizing continuously at work so that the content would be more engaging to users who don’t necessarily know how to read Asian texts or know the meanings of the characters. Texts in this collection can be found at the following link:


The title used specifically in my demo can be found here:


The technology aspect was inspired by the article Quiz: See If You Remember How to Write in Cursive written by Chris Wilson, posted on Time’s website on January 23, 2017 which can be found here:


Sketch.js samples and open source codes can be found here:


Marie’s Pastiche blog has a sample of the type of example I would like to include in my interactive tool. The above prototype in the demo section of this proposal includes one of her samples:


A video cited in Marie’s Pastiche blog, which shows an example of writing the character in my demo example and the sample on her blog, can be found here:


In my demo, I briefly discussed a dictionary that utilizes similar technology where users can draw Asian characters and the program will suggest the characters they are trying to find. This example is from the following website:


A type of open source technology I didn’t include in my demo, but would be a viable option is Optical Mark Recognition MySQL and PHP. This tool would allow the interactive to have correct answers and quiz users on their input. The code and description can be found here:


A video tutorial of Optical Mark Recognition MySQL and PHP is at the following link:

Bibliographical Paragraph

Over the past three years I have had the pleasure of working with various collections in digitizing their material. One such position most relevant to this project is digitizing East Asian texts at Princeton University Library’s Digital Studio from the university’s East Asian Library. I am pursuing my Master of Information degree with a concentration in Archives and Preservation from Rutgers University. My career goal is to make art and archival collections available to everyone. The main way I am pursuing this objective is by digitization of materials so that users can become engaged with collections in new ways. Just because a user doesn’t understand or like the material, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be actively engaged with it to try to gain a better understanding and appreciation.


A copy of my proposal and reflection of the archival remix project can be found here:

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