There is a friend with who I often go out on field trips together. Once, we came to Pingsi Township in New Taipei City. It was a breezy evening in early spring. The fragrance of flowers diffused the air. As we walked on, suddenly, she let out a sharp scream.
It turned out that on the path we walked, there were caterpillars suspended on the twigs and utility poles. Such a scene would be very terrifying for a guarded pretty girl. Living in a metropolitan, we occasionally would encounter some cockroaches, spiders, and ants but rarely get to feel the little animals that make bursts of sounds in the wild bushes and their liveliness and vividness. Like the grasshopper that hops around, the mantis that waves his sickles, and the katydid that chirps, little animals each have their own habits. The structures of their bodies bear many amazing and magical functions. Caterpillars will one day be transformed into butterflies that flutter trippingly. The beautiful patterns on their wings record the beauty and joy in the growth and transformation of living things in nature.
Unfortunately, because of their unfamiliarity with nature, many urban dwellers always feel strangeness and fear as their first reaction when they see insects. They feel itchy all over their bodies. They scream with horror and want to run as far away from the insects as possible. Resultantly, they have missed the opportunity to appreciate and get to know nature.
In recent years, more and more academic archiving institutions have started using digitalization to document and preserve species. Organizations and units including National Museum of Natural Science, National Taiwan University, Digital archive at the Insect Collection of Taiwan Forestry Research Institute, National Taiwan Museum, and NCYU Insect Museum, have created free and open information flow for the field of biological research. Through rigorous and comprehensive recording, information is organized, categorized, and coded according to the established system. Each insect with its biological background is properly housed, waiting for scientists to analyze and compare.
Due to insects having different body sizes, specimen preservation tests the skills of the archiving personnel. Also, because of the need for occasional external academic exchanges that cost incalculable human and material resources, every part of the resources consumed is a reminder of the fact that our specimens are fragile. Program Director, Dr. Chen Shu-pei, of the Digital Insect of Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute has a very profound experience regarding the risks that may arise from circulating and accessing specimens when she managed the herbarium. She said, “Many agricultural insects are only 0.1 cm in size. They have a very high probability to be damaged. Yet we still need to conduct exchanges with foreign institutions. The necessity of digitalization is therefore self-evident.
Digitalization is not only beneficial to the preservation, management, and communication of archived specimens, but also opens up possibility for ecological education for outsiders, allowing the general public a more speedy and convenient tool to learn about insects. Through this kind of education, there is a chance that the general public will take personal action to protect various living organisms out of its love and knowledge of insects.
Publisher：Fan-Sen Wang, Vice President of Academia Sinica Editor-in-Chief：Zong-Kun Li Publishing Department：Taiwan e-Learning and Digital Archives Program, TELDAP Executive Editor：Sub-project: Digital Information - the New and Creative Way of Communicating Mailing Address：The Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica
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Issue：TELDAP e-Newsletter (October, 2012) Publish Date：10/15 /2012 First Issue：02/15 /2007（Published on 15th every 2 months）
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