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Application of Digital Technology in Intangible Cultural Heritage Protection
Intangible cultural heritage itself is fragile, so it needs human protection. The existence of everything is a dynamic process, and its emergence, growth, continuation, and demise are objective existences, including “intangible cultural heritage.” With the continuous deepening and development of science and technology, the development of digital acquisition technology, storage technology, remote sensing technology, and spatial modeling technology provides a corresponding realistic basis and platform for the protection of different types of intangible cultural heritage. This paper mainly discusses the application of a variety of modern information technologies in the protection of intangible cultural heritage, deeply discusses the problems existing in digital protection of intangible cultural heritage, analyzes the characteristics of digital protection of intangible cultural heritage, discusses how to better establish the protection platform and management mechanism, and puts forward the application prospect of computer digital technology in the protection of intangible cultural heritage, so as to realize relatively comprehensive digital protection of intangible cultural heritage.
Intangible cultural heritage is the excellent national culture accumulated in the process of human development and the crystallization of human wisdom and civilization. For the intangible cultural heritage in different regions, it not only represents the cultural development direction of the region, but also represents various intangible cultural heritages around the world. Protecting intangible cultural heritage is the eternal and lasting source of strength for mankind. It is an ancient and fresh cultural heritage. Rapid development and profound social changes have brought great changes to people’s mode of production, lifestyle and external living environment. This change will inevitably have a negative impact on the living environment and sustainable and healthy development of intangible cultural heritage, and even make it extinct. In critical situations, the traditional protection methods have long been unable to cope with these difficulties brought by the development of the times. Therefore, how to better protect intangible cultural heritage and how to better apply digital technology to the protection of intangible cultural heritage has become a hot topic at present. At present, with the rapid development of digital technology, especially digital photography, digital video, digital audio, and digital panorama, digital technology has already been applied to all aspects of work, study, and life and has played an important role in the protection and restoration of cultural relics. Digital protection of intangible cultural heritage provides many new technical means and methods. From the current situation, digital audio and video technology and digital three-dimensional imaging technology can provide new technologies for the protection of intangible cultural heritage in different regions in computer digital technology. With the exploration of the economic value of intangible cultural heritage and its great influence on the competitiveness of intellectual property rights, more and more countries take the protection of intangible cultural heritage as a priority.
How to improve the theoretical construction level of digital protection and the actual effect of digital protection has become an important issue that must be seriously considered by the functional departments of culture, teaching, and research at this stage. China is gradually forming the corresponding protection consciousness and development mode, but there are still some outstanding problems in the digital protection of China’s intangible cultural heritage, such as neglecting the local characteristics of intangible cultural heritage and insufficient application of digital protection technology for intangible cultural heritage in relatively poor and backward areas.
2. The Relationship between Computer Digital Technology and Intangible Cultural Heritage Protection and Its Development Status
Digital protection of intangible cultural heritage is based on digital technology. Generally speaking, digital technology refers to the ability to identify various complex and changeable information through electronic information system and output binary data of various A-series technologies for this purpose. On the basis of summing up and absorbing different definitions, this paper holds that the digital protection of intangible cultural heritage refers to the comprehensive application of digital technical means and methods to achieve the purpose of digital preservation, presentation, restoration, and regeneration of intangible cultural heritage through digital collection, digital storage, digital analysis, and digital transmission and to preserve it in a new form, understand it from a new angle, use it in a new way, and develop it to meet new demands .
After the end of World War II, the war left indelible wounds on the psychology of people of all countries. The material heritage and cultural heritage left in history were destroyed by the disaster of war. People are very confused, facing the destruction brought by the war. During the postwar reconstruction, almost all of Europe devoted itself to the construction of public housing and the large-scale development and construction of urban areas. The speed of large-scale housing reconstruction and development has led to a wave of nostalgia, and a large number of historical buildings and cultural heritage may even disappear from the city overnight.
As early as 1950, the government promulgated the Law on the Protection of Cultural Property, which clearly put forward the concept of intangible cultural property (i.e., intangible cultural heritage). Japan’s historical and cultural heritage has been protected for more than 100 years. Dowding and Anasi et al. believe that relevant institutions should adopt effective cooperation mechanisms to maximize the advantages of each institution and promote the digital protection of intangible cultural heritage [2, 3]. On the impact of digitalization of intangible cultural heritage, Madill and Absalyamova pointed out that digitalization of intangible cultural heritage has two sides. Taking museums as an example, the development of digital technology will lead to the decrease of personnel flow in physical museums and the subsequent museum crisis .
Compared with developed countries such as Britain, the United States, and the European Union, the digital protection of China’s intangible cultural heritage started late. However, in recent years, with the support and guidance of national policies, the digital protection of China’s intangible cultural heritage has developed rapidly, with great success and many achievements, such as the digital protection of the Silk Road cultural heritage project in 2004, the research project of the world intangible cultural heritage protection in cooperation with Samsung galaxy Co., Ltd. in 2004, and the “Memory of the World in Lijiang, China” project in 2005. Cheng and Xu  studied the restoration of meaningful historical and cultural heritage by virtual technology, which greatly enriched the protection technology and deepened the application of digital technology. Carrozzino et al.  used technical means to capture the image positions of certain movements in dances and then applied the obtained results to the education of these dances. Song and Wang pointed out that the current digital protection work has the phenomenon of “technology-oriented and culture-oriented,” and the existing protection work ignores the importance of inheritors. They pointed out that inheritors should play an active role in digital protection and advocate the concept of “participatory digital protection” . From the historical point of view, Professor Munjeri of Lithuanian National University  mainly studied the authenticity of intangible cultural heritage from the historical point of view of Lithuania and pointed out that it is urgent to protect intangible cultural heritage and pointed out that archives management can also protect the authenticity of intangible cultural heritage more effectively.
From the actual situation, although some achievements have been made in digital protection of intangible cultural heritage all over the country, the application of digital protection technology in intangible cultural heritage in many areas is still in its infancy. The inheritance of traditional handicrafts cannot adapt to the pace of modern life, and the cultural level of inheritors is generally not high, which cannot adapt to the application of digital protection technology, resulting in inheritors gradually losing their right to speak in the process of intangible cultural heritage and digitalization of intangible cultural heritage. Little progress has been made in digital protection of heritage.
The digital protection of intangible cultural heritage in some areas of China has some shortcomings in the preservation and development of local cultural elements. Based on the limitations of digital transformation technology, in the process of digitalization of intangible cultural heritage, if effective measures cannot be taken to protect cultural elements with local characteristics, homogenization will often occur, leading to the loss of local cultural elements . In the process of digitalization of intangible cultural heritage, some scholars often process and understand aesthetic art from a scientific point of view, ignoring the local cultural elements in intangible cultural heritage, which leads to the reconstruction of cultural connotation of intangible cultural heritage and may even lose its original value. This is a great harm to the protection of intangible cultural heritage. As early as 2013, when the author participated in the research on religious aesthetics and protection of Taoist murals in Huizhou (project number: 2013SQRW060ZD), a key project of Anhui University Outstanding Young Talents Fund, he put forward the importance of vigorously developing and using digital technology to protect Huizhou murals.
Digital protection of China’s intangible cultural heritage has been carried out for more than ten years, but professionals in digital protection of intangible cultural heritage are still scarce. Therefore, it is an important task at present and in the future to cultivate talents with professional knowledge and ability for digital protection of intangible cultural heritage. The digital protection of intangible cultural heritage lags far behind the digital protection of tangible cultural heritage, and China’s protection in this field is still in its infancy. Faced with such a severe situation, it is of great significance to deeply study the digital protection of China’s intangible cultural heritage, ensure the sustainable development of China’s intangible cultural heritage, and pass it on from generation to generation, so as to enhance China’s intellectual property competitiveness and enhance the cultural confidence of the whole nation. We should make full use of modern digital technology, innovate the path of intangible cultural heritage protection, protect and inherit China’s intangible cultural heritage, and promote its vitality.
Protecting intangible cultural heritage has always been an important task for the development of intangible cultural heritage, but in the practice of protection, the traditional protection mode has encountered many practical challenges, mainly as follows:(1)There is a lack of systematic planning and financial support.(2)Due to the limitations of their own conditions, the age of nongenetic inheritors at all levels in China is generally higher.(3)Traditional intangible cultural heritage protection has a single form and backward technology. The main protection method of intangible cultural heritage is written record.
Judging from the practical challenges faced by the protection of intangible cultural heritage, it is necessary and urgent to vigorously promote digital transformation, which requires both in-depth theoretical research and efficient practical actions. There is no doubt about the importance and necessity of digital protection of intangible cultural heritage. Compared with other traditional storage protection methods, the advantages of digital protection methods are mainly reflected in the following three aspects: first, flexible storage: with the rapid optimization and development of data information storage format, storage carrier, and storage capacity, digital storage of intangible cultural heritage resources has gradually become the mainstream, thus reducing and simplifying its required storage space, storage cost, classification management, and use process. The foundation of intangible cultural heritage database system was established later. Secondly, it is a time-sensitive rapid spread of ad. With the continuous updating of modern science and information technology in China, the aesthetics of intangible cultural heritage handicrafts are constantly enriched. After the digital storage of Shaanxi noodles, the efficiency of copying, editing, and network transmission of its resource information is rapidly improved. Third, there are a variety of publishing methods and broad application prospects. Rich intangible cultural heritage data resources make it possible to flexibly integrate and apply data. Data analysis and information statistics, query and data retrieval, resource processing, and comprehensive application all tend to be diversified. Digitization has strong practicability, such as real-time viewing technology, cross-screen recognition technology, intelligent interaction technology. The embedding of digital technology makes virtual information coexist with tangible forms, which improves the integration and practicality of cultural heritage resources. Through digital technology, traditional intangible cultural forms are integrated into the contemporary cultural ecology and grow into new cultural forms adapted to the times. Digital protection involves a wide range of fields. As long as valuable and meaningful data and information can be digitally protected, the efficiency and quality of cultural data protection will be improved, and the problem of data damage will be reduced . For the intangible cultural heritage, its manifestation, production technology, cultural connotation, and sacrificial ceremony can be converted and spread in the form of pictures, videos, audio, etc. for further protection, dissemination, and inheritance. Under the background of the development of information technology, the informatization of intangible cultural heritage and its immersive experience are conducive to the spread of traditional social culture, art, and folk wisdom, making the artistic treasures of Mianhua culture in Shaanxi immortal and Chinese excellent traditional culture playing a greater artistic value.
3. Application Strategies of Digital Protection of Intangible Cultural Relics
Visualization technology is usually used in digital museums, including three-dimensional modeling technology, wide-angle stereoscopic display technology, tracking technology, tactile/force feedback technology, and voice transmission technology, which can display intangible cultural heritage from various aspects. Especially for the intangible cultural heritage with detailed production process, visualization technology can be used for 3D modeling, virtual scenes similar to the real environment can be built, and lidar and remote sensing technology can be used to organize and summarize intangible cultural heritage data sources to guide the audience. Complete the viewing experience of intangible cultural heritage items. It is also possible to input natural language into the computer network, perform language understanding and human-computer interaction through data operations, and display intangible cultural heritage art from multiple spatial perspectives and cognitive dimensions, so as to realize the digital protection and dissemination of intangible cultural heritage. Database is the foundation of creating a platform. The database should not only collect and manage Qiang embroidery information as comprehensively as possible, but also use Dx table and system announcement table to collect and record announcement information in the platform. The news records Qiang embroidery, Qiang nationality culture, and other related social information; the user table records the registration information of users; the link list rerecorded the website address, logo, etc. of a famous intangible cultural heritage website, which made the use of digital protection platform have massive data for users to choose and research application materials. The overall design of digital protection platform can be divided into two parts: the front end of the website and the back end of the website. As shown in Table 1, the front end of the website is mainly browsed and applied by users. For works, news content, etc., users can independently sort out an intangible cultural heritage work and comment and analyze various contents. The back end of the website is mainly managed by administrators. Administrators need to strengthen the connection creation between the front end and the back end of the website, so as to ensure the application effect of some intangible cultural heritage database content and strengthen users’ browsing behavior, user comments, intangible cultural heritage, message management, and other aspects, so as to create a good digital protection platform environment for users as much as possible, as shown in Figure 1.
The specific content of the system structure and function classification is as follows.(1)The front end categories include intangible cultural heritage content, online publishing and exhibition, human geography, project resource database, policy formulation, public welfare activities, rural revitalization, and cultural protection. Techniques or methods of intangible cultural heritage management. Segment current affairs information classification, human geography, project resources, finished product display, and public welfare category classification. Free distribution information distributed by registered users and reviewed by administrators. Connecting China’s traditional cultural network, intangible cultural heritage network, and traditional cultural education network.(2)The back office system manages the viewing of information, issuing of information, and issuing of announcements. Set roles: add roles, delete roles, and modify roles. Manage resources to read statistics, add, delete, and change information and upload videos. Department Management Message Board and Link Board. Please contact us for information modification.
3.1. The Design of Qiang Embroidery Database
The development of information technology and digital technology has created a relatively mature digital information network environment. Intangible cultural heritage can be protected through information collection, data classification, and storage of specific samples. For the protection of intangible cultural heritage, its value lies not only in the ultimate material entity, but also in the process and production process [11, 12]. Therefore, the Qiang embroidery database not only stores pictures of real objects, but also records the dynamic process of embroidery through text description and video information . Therefore, many databases established through digital protection law can be divided into three categories: text database, image database, and video database. This structure is shown in Figure 2.
Among them, the character database stores the digital character information of Qiang embroidery, including related documents, terminology explanation, technical guidance materials, electronic teaching plans, and exercises. The image database mainly stores Qiang embroidery composition, color matching, embroidery manuscripts, students’ homework, electronic wall charts, etc. collected from previous field visits. Generated during the operation of the teaching platform; the video database mainly stores the related connotations and silhouettes of Qiang embroidery, teaching video resources, real interview records, and videos of Qiang embroidery skills. After the collection of these three kinds of information, they need to be classified, numbered, and summarized. The numbering rules designed in this paper are resource category mark + related information mark + resource detailed category mark. Specifically, the text resource number starts with WB, the image resource number starts with TX, and the video resource number starts with SP. The first digit represents the resource acquisition route: 1 represents the physical image resources of the product, 2 represents the resources obtained from the field investigation, 3 represents the resources generated by the teaching platform, and 4 represents the scanning resources of Qiang embroidery related books; the last lowercase letter indicates the specific category corresponding to the resource in Figure 2.
In digital protection technology, digital audio and video recording technology is the main technical means. Compared with the traditional audio and video recording technology, it has a strong advance and high precision. It is more realistic when recovering video and audio data and sexual clarity. From the current situation, this method has more prominent advantages, not only strong stability, but also extremely natural logic and strong anti-interference ability. This way can be consistent with the way computers process information, thus making it easier for computers to store information. In psychological recording, you can also choose different recording accuracy according to different situations to meet different requirements. In the digital video recording method, each pixel can be represented by 32 binary bits, which can achieve a good recovery effect. In order to better protect the intangible cultural heritage of Pingxiang, western Gansu, Nuo culture, and peasant paintings, we can use video technology to shoot Nuo mask carving, Nuo artist dancing, flowers and fruits, peasant paintings, and so on, so as to get better protection. Protect the heritage, so that it can avoid the loss or exaggerated deformation of sculptural beauty, dance skills, and painting techniques in the process of development, so that nongenetic inheritors can get the true inheritance, return to orthodoxy, and pass it on by word of mouth. Audio technology and skills to form audio have laid the foundation for future classification into text.
4. Specific Measures for Digital Protection of International Cultural Heritage
The core work of digital protection of intangible cultural heritage is done by people. To do a good job in digital protection of intangible cultural heritage, we must rely on professional and excellent digital technology. Cultural centers and other cultural units can be carried out from the following three aspects: first, internal excavation and cultivation of digital technical talents: cultural centers and other cultural units can dig and train staff with information technology and digital technology inside the unit and train them to become the digital technology leaders of cultural centers. The second is to hire excellent digital technical talents. Many universities in China offer digital technology majors, and cultural institutions such as cultural centers can recruit talents from the society and universities and recruit professional digital technology talents. This can ensure that the recruited talents immediately serve the digital protection of intangible cultural heritage and provide guidance and help for the digital protection of intangible cultural heritage. The third is to send foreigners to visit and study. Cultural centers and other cultural units can send outstanding staff to visit and study the units that have done a good job in digital protection of intangible cultural heritage, learn successful experiences and methods from them, and provide reference and help for their units. Talent is the primary productive force, so is the digital protection of intangible cultural heritage. Only digital technical talents can contribute to the digital protection of intangible cultural heritage.
In the process of digital protection of intangible cultural heritage, financial support is inseparable, and with sufficient financial guarantee, we can better explore and practice the methods of digital protection of intangible cultural heritage. Therefore, relevant government departments should strengthen financial support for digital protection of intangible cultural heritage and set up special protection funds. Protection provides an important financial guarantee. In addition, it is also feasible to expand the scale of special funds through social fund-raising, such as establishing a long-term cooperation mechanism with enterprises to attract investment from social enterprises. The scale of the digital protection special fund provides an important financial guarantee for the protection of intangible cultural heritage.
In the process of digitalization of intangible cultural heritage, we should actively apply various digital protection technologies, such as virtual reality technology, 3D modeling technology, panorama camera technology, and motion capture technology. This process requires the active participation of digital personnel of intangible cultural heritage, strengthening cooperation with universities, scientific research institutes, scientific and technological enterprises and other parties, recording and storing original ecological intangible cultural heritage resources through digital technology, and paying special attention to the original ecological protection details of intangible cultural heritage. In addition, the application of digital protection technology is inseparable from people. The digital protection of intangible cultural heritage should not only pay attention to the introduction of professional digital technical talents and intangible cultural heritage researchers and scholars, but also pay attention to the digital protection of intangible cultural heritage inheritors. In the process of digitization of intangible cultural heritage, the information of inheritors of characteristic intangible cultural heritage should be digitally archived, and the archives should be managed at different levels to support the training of successors of inheritors of intangible cultural heritage and establish successors of inheritors of intangible cultural heritage—Tugral heritage. For early warning mechanism, strengthen the training of some inheritors of intangible cultural heritage who are on the verge of disappearing, prevent inheritors from passing on from generation to generation, establish a fully shared database of inheritors of intangible cultural heritage, and establish a matching information update system and an early warning system to wait.
With the advent of the Internet era, mobile network technology not only brings great convenience to people, but also changes people’s way of life and work. People can use mobile devices anytime and anywhere to finish their work and meet their daily needs. Digital protection of intangible cultural heritage can make full use of modern network technology and cloud technology, develop mobile clients, meet people’s needs for the protection and development of intangible cultural heritage in the Internet age, and better protect and develop intangible cultural heritage. Using Internet technology and cloud technology, the intangible cultural heritage is digitized and preserved, and then the audience of intangible cultural heritage is attracted by small mobile phone programs, so as to meet the demand of intangible cultural heritage audience for intangible cultural heritage project knowledge, guide the consumption pattern of intangible cultural heritage audience, and further promote the digital preservation, inheritance, and development of intangible cultural heritage projects. In the process of digitalization of intangible cultural heritage, we should actively develop mobile programs of intangible cultural heritage and take them as carriers to protect, inherit, display, develop, publicize, and sell intangible cultural heritage.
5. Conclusion and Discussion
China is a multiethnic country, with 56 ethnic groups with a long history and culture and profound cultural heritage. In the process of social development, the intangible cultural heritage handed down from generation to generation is one of the precious cultural resources. It has the characteristics of invisibility, activity, and community. Every intangible cultural heritage represents a unique national memory. Digital technology is a new product with the rapid development of Internet, which provides sufficient guarantee for the protection of intangible cultural heritage with scientific, honest, and authentic characteristics. This paper analyzes the present situation of intangible cultural heritage protection, the shortcomings of traditional protection methods, and the advantages of digital technology. It can be concluded that the digital protection of intangible cultural heritage is necessary, and the digital protection of intangible cultural heritage is obtained from internal conditions, external conditions, and presentation results. It is feasible to introduce the application and strategy of computer digital technology in intangible cultural heritage. However, there are still many problems to be solved in the application process. Digital technology has been integrated with intangible cultural heritage and has become a part of intangible cultural heritage life. The continuation of life plays an extremely important role. Just as the ultimate goal of intangible cultural heritage protection is to make it develop and continue freely without protection measures, the ultimate goal of digital protection of intangible cultural heritage is to make the outside world feel no trace of digital technology, but is closely related to the life of intangible cultural heritage.
Intangible culture is a cultural heritage created by different nationalities, which contains not only a long history and wisdom of the nation, but also an important part of the Chinese national culture. For the protection of intangible cultural heritage, it is necessary to use digital technology, resource storage technology, resource retrieval and management technology, visualization technology, and other means to collect, classify, store, manage, and display cultural heritage. Through the combination and support of various digital technologies, it can effectively ensure the dissemination and exchange of intangible cultural heritage resources and complete the protection of massive intangible cultural heritage.
The original contributions presented in the study are included in the article/supplementary material, further inquiries can be directed to the corresponding author.
Conflicts of Interest
The author declares no conflicts of interest.
This study was supported by 2020 Key Research Project of Humanities and Social Sciences in Colleges and Universities of Anhui Province (Research on Inheritance of Red Prints in Anhui Province (1949–1989)), SK2020A0706, and online course of provincial quality engineering project in Anhui Colleges and Universities (formerly MOOC) “Commodity Packaging Design” (2020mooc500).
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