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Communications of the ACM

East Asia and Oceania Region special section: Hot topics

Capturing Cultural Heritage in East Asia and Oceania

native dish in cast iron skillet

Credit: Ariyani Tedjo

To capture cultural heritage is to capture the experience of people who are directly involved in creating, witnessing, and maintaining cultural heritage objects. Ideally, the people accessing digital representations of cultural heritage objects are able to understand the significance underlying the objects. The question is how to capture (the experience of) cultural objects in digital form. Various modalities exist for representing cultural heritage: unstructured textual data, possibly including images or videos, as well as structured data.

Capisco has been shown to provide quality semantic search results for English-language texts, with promising early results for other languages.

To illustrate our approaches, we pick one cultural heritage representative: rendang, one of the five national dishes of Indonesia, believed to have existed as early as the 15th century. From textual sources, we may learn about rendang and its history. According to Nurmufida et al.,8 rendang is a traditional cuisine originating from West Sumatra, with beef and coconut milk as its main ingredients. From image sources, we may see what rendang looks like. For example, Wikimedia Commons contains images of rendang that show that, despite being similar to curry, rendang is actually drier. Next, we may wonder how to cook rendang. A simple YouTube search provides a wide selection of videos showing how to cook rendang, with the chefs ranging from local Indonesians to international chefs. In fact, the word rendang originates from how it is cooked; that is, slowly (merandang, in the Minangnese language).


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