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INFITT | 16th Tamil Internet Conference 2017

Dr. K. Kalyanasundaram

Keynote Speech:Digital Access to Tamil Cultural Heritage

Dr. K. Kalyanasundaram
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL)
CH-1015 Lausanne, Switzerland

Tamil People have a long history, dating back to at least 2000 years. Tamil Civilization has been active and mature in many disciplines all along this period. Civilizations are best judged by the richness and diversity of their language, literature and performing arts (music,dance and drama). Sadly published books are not being reprinted in recent times.

Lot of information on Tamil heritage still remain buried in epigraphical inscriptions of various kind (on copper plates, clay tablets and on the walls of temples and monuments). Many facets of Tamil heritage are yet to be deciphered from these. As we are heading to a virtual world where all the information on cultural heritage will be
accessed electronically, we need to build comprehensive digital collections on the diverse aspects of our rich cultural heritage. Digital collections permit facile preservation and propagation and when made accessible via Internet they permit access to entire world population 24/7.

In this talk, we will focus on one specific area, viz, digital libraries of Tamil literature.Started in 1998, Project Madurai has been involved in systematic digitization of Tamil literature of different genre. Emphasis has been on searchability of the content Electronic versions of over 600 important Tamil works of various genre have been prepared and made available in machine-readable and searchable forms as HTML and PDF files. Searchable databases of the digital collections are useful in many areas,from propagation of the literature to linguistic research as in etymology and NLP. In addition to elaborating on these, results from some recent work on building
searchable databases using JSON (java script object notation) will be presented.