Ciolek, T. M. 2003. Travels in Asian Cyberspace: A Brief History of Asian Studies Online. In: Enrica Garzilli (Ed.), 2003, "Journal of South Asia Women Studies" (JSAWS), Vol. 9 (1), ISSN 1084-7478 [].
also available from

Travels in Asian Cyberspace:
A Brief History of Asian Studies Online

Dr T. Matthew Ciolek,
Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies,
Australian National University, Canberra ACT 0200, Australia

A paper presented at the Third International Convention of Asia Scholars (ICAS3), National University of Singapore,
Singapore, 19-22 August 2003.

Document created: 21 Jul 2003. Last revised: 29 Apr 2005.

1. Introduction

This paper maps major events of the electronic and networked history of Asian Studies. Also, it tries to identify those restless and imaginative individuals and teams who in the not-so-distant past struggled to make sense of the latest technology. First, they focused on the computers. Next, on the network itself. Thirdly, on the best ways of turning those exotic technologies into an everyday tool. Sometimes such inspired experiments were about accelerating one's analyses, or facilitating access to information. Occasionally these explorations have led people to a discovery of new ways data could be managed and interpreted. At other times, or in other places, such experiments resulted in new publishing techniques, or in a new vehicle for long-distance contacts with one's fellow colleagues and students.

This paper will look at the early examples of these three scenarios - electronic/networked research, publishing and communication. Furthermore, by taking multiple snapshots of the history of online Asian Studies, it will try, like a brave squad of the proverbial blind men, to get a better - because a more complete - picture of the equally proverbial elephant. In other words, this paper attempts to put together a jigsaw puzzle whose pieces have been scattered over the last three decades, and all over the globe.

2. Terminology

Throughout this article three related, but distinct concepts (and corresponding terms) will crop-up with great frequency.

Firstly, I'll talk about information which is "electronic". By this I mean information which has been either born-digital (e.g. as an email message, or an electronic photograph), or translated into a digital format (such as ASCII, MSWord, spreadsheet, html, jpg, flash, MP3, etc. etc.) from some non-electronic source (e.g. a petroglyph, cuneiform tablet, vellum, fax, LP record, 8mm movie, videotape, photograph and - most typically and most commonly - paper). Digitisation of data and records is a highly significant step. It is so because once information is expressed in electronic format it can be placed on a magnetic tape, disk or memory stick, or on an optical storage device (e.g. CD-ROM, DVD). This means great savings on storage space (Bush 1945), and increased portability of such information. It also means that the digitised material becomes immensely amenable to the ultra-quick copying, manipulation and transposition into another electronic medium, or once more, into the old-fashioned paper format.

Secondly, in addition to the electronic information there is also networked information. All networked information is electronic, though not all electronic information needs to be networked. For instance, some of it can be seen to make rounds within a community of scholars via the post or hand-deliveries, in the shape of tangible objects, such as computer diskettes or laser-disks. However, by becoming networked the information gets extra advantage over its non-networked replicas. With the invention of computer networks (an invention which was first tested in October 1969), endless chunks of electronic material can be sent from one networked place to another with tremendous speeds, and while being perfectly un-effected by the scale of the physical distances involved.

Thirdly, throughout most of this paper I will talk about the Internet, that is about that global network of networks where the networked traffic is regulated by the rules of the TCP/IP protocol. However, while discussing the earliest days of networked Asian Studies and its cognate disciplines, frequent references will be made to the Arpanet, Janet, Bitnet, as well as to Usenet and BBS bulletin boards. Those are names of computer networks which were based on the non-Internet (i.e. other than TCP/IP) communication protocols. Therefore, whenever a term "the Net" is used, that blanket word will designate both the Internet and non-Internet types of networks.

3. Methodology

This paper makes use of fiddly detective work. It looks for factual answers to the four questions - "who?", what?", "where?", and "when?" Its scope are the electronic and networked happenings in social sciences and humanities in general; and within history, religion studies, area studies and Asian Studies in particular.

This detective work rummages through a wide range of convoluted electronic and paper trails. Data were collected through extensive forays, or should I say "archaeological digs", into the publicly accessible cyberspace. Most of my investigations commenced with an initial reference to a resource made in one of the electronic issues of the "Asian Studies WWW Monitor" journal (, which since April 1994 has been systematically tracking, annotating and commenting on the leading Asian Studies online materials. Whenever an interesting electronic resource was identified, all its earlier incarnations were sought and examined until a satisfactory answer to the four guiding questions was found.

The bulk of this investigative work involved repeated and aggressive keyword searches via the "" and [Usenet] "" search engines. Intensive fossicking was also conducted in subsections of the so-called "Dark Net", that is within those parts of the Internet, which for one reason or another have not been crawled, trawled and indexed by the major search engines (Bailey and Craswell n.d.). Inevitably, not all of our investigations could be successfully completed. The Net is a living organism which both expands into fresh spaces and re-uses (and thus overwrites and destroys) many of its older component parts (Webb 2003). Its major form, the Web, is an especially volatile domain. Analyses of addresses reported by the "Asian Studies WWW Monitor" indicate that about 25% of Asian Studies' online resources becomes unreachable (i.e. move to another electronic location, get replaced with a different material, or entirely closed down) after some 30-36 months of their online existence (Ciolek 2002).

As a preliminary step, all collected information was written down as a simple chronological sequence, as a Timeline. This sequence is available online in Ciolek (2003) and it forms the newest subsection of the "Asian Studies WWW Virtual Library" (

Naturally, a mere enumeration of the past happenings, even the most exotic and entertaining ones, cannot inform a reader at all. When one starts thinking about it, the very mass of detail listed in the Timeline becomes unhelpful as it clouds and obscures the structural features of our electronic past. Therefore, in order to arrive at some understanding of the collected data they were divided into two parallel groups:

Furthermore, both columns of data were put side by side with two additional clusters of chronological information: Data for the last two clusters of information were extracted from Ciolek (1999-present), and supplemented by details provided by Anonymous (2002), Ciolek (1991-1993), Ciolek (1995), Ciolek (2004), Gillies and Cailliau (2000), Hauben and Hauben (1997), Robison (1990), Webb (2003), and Zielke (1993).

4. The data: "The emergence of Asian Studies online"

The final result of all these operations is Table 1. The table charting "The emergence of Asian Studies online and related electronic events, 1944-2003" places data in five columns. The table is, in fact, a map of the past events, with each column of facts providing a context for the events listed in the other four columns.

The first of the columns, entitled the "Year", establishes a basic chronological axis which starts nearly 60 years ago and unfolds until today. The second column, "Hardware/ Software/ Networks/ Users", enumerates the key technological and demographic developments. The third column, "Global Intellectual Infrastructure", catalogues those events, meetings and services which benefited and aided the scholarly electronic and networked world as a whole. To put it differently, the third column deals with our intellectual heritage. That heritage comprises not only informational resources, but also the growing body of commonly held standards and guidelines, as well as the rules of online etiquette and "savoir-vivre." The fourth column, "Computerised Social Sciences/ Humanities" lists key electronic and networked events in those scholarly disciplines which remain separate from Asian Studies. Information about the latter discipline is dealt with in the last column, the "Computerised Asian Studies."

Table 1: The emergence of Asian Studies online and related electronic events, 1944-2003.

Year Hardware/ Software/ Networks/ Users Construction of the global intellectual infrastructure Significant Developments in Social Sciences/ Humanities Significant Developments in Asian Studies
1944: MARK I, freely programmable digital mainframe computer is completed by Howard H. Aiken and his team.

1946: ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer), the world's first electronic, large scale, general-purpose digital computer is completed by J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly of U. of Pennsylvania.

1960: 6,000 computers in operation in US;

1961: An estimated 9,300 computers exist world wide.

1963: Digital Equipment produces first minicomputer.

1963: Douglas C. Engelbart receives a patent on the computer mouse.

1964: Runoff text editing software is introduced.

1966: IBM introduces the first disk storage system, the IBM RAMAC 305. It holds 5 MB of data.

1967: IBM introduces floppy disk technology.

1969: Unix operating system, characterised by multitasking (also called time-sharing), virtual memory, multi-user design and security, is designed by Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie at AT&T Bell Laboratories, US.

1969: Arpanet, the first network of interconnected computers is launched.

1969: Intel announces a 1 KB RAM chip.

Jul 45: Vannevar Bush in his paper "As We May Think", envisions a yet-to-be built hypertext system called "Memex". The Memex will be used to extend human memory by providing the means to organise microfilmed information associatively (Bush 1945).    
1971 The future Internet spans 23 networked computer hosts.

Intel markets the first microprocessor. Its speed is 60,000 'additions' per second.

Alohanet (a network based on radio transmitters) starts up in Hawaii.

1971: Michael Hart of the Materials Research Lab at the U. of Illinois launches a voluntarily operated "Project Gutenberg" [now at], the Internet's oldest producer and archivist of free electronic books (eBooks or eTexts). 1971: Winfred P. Lehmann of U. of Texas at Austin, Susan Chapman, and H. S. Ananthanarayana work on digitisation and computer storage of the text of Rig Veda.  
1972 Cyclades network is demonstrated in France.

In Dec 1972 Ray Tomlinson writes a computer program that enables email messages to travel from one computer to another over a network.

1973 The future Internet spans 35 computer hosts.

Arpanet has approx. 2,000 users.

Email becomes popular and it comprises 75% of all ARPANET traffic.

Hard disk drive developed.

30,000 fax machines in the United States.

Ethernet communication protocol is invented.

  1973: "Association for Literary and Linguistic Computing" (ALLC) [now at] is founded in the UK.

1973: "Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology (CAA)," an international organisation [] bringing together archaeologists, mathematics and computer scientists is started as a small annual conference at the U. of Birmingham, UK.

1974 The future Internet spans 65 hosts.

Unix becomes popular. Around 600 of such systems are installed, mostly at universities.

Microprocessor (first marketed 1971) speed reaches 290,000 'additions' per second.

1975 Altair, the first personal computer introduced.

The Homebrew Computer Club is formed.

1976 Ink-jet printing is announced by IBM.

Shugart introduces 5.25" floppy.

"dBase" procedural language is released. The dBase soon becomes one of the best-selling items of PC software.

Apple I personal computer is released.

  1976: Lou Burnard founds "Oxford Text Archive" (OTA) [now at] at U. of Oxford. OTA becomes a repository for over 2,500 electronic texts produced in more than 25 languages, ranging from electronic editions of individual works, standard reference texts and dictionaries, to large-scale literary and linguistic corpora.  
1977 The future Internet spans 111 hosts.

UUCP (Unix messaging and file-transfer tool) introduced.

Apple II computer (first PC with colour graphics) is introduced.

Tandy TRS-80 and Commodore PET computers appear on the market.

the PC modem is introduced.

The experimental Internet is demonstrated.

The first wordprocessor software is introduced.

There are 420 mln telephones in existence.

  1977: Department of Classics, Princeton U. works on the definition of rules of Tibetan verb transformation with computer-aided search and Tibetan alphabetisation programs.  
1978 The Internet spans 188 hosts.

A handful of BBS systems is in existence.

Introduction of CompuServe dialup services for the general public.

Acorn computers launched in the UK.

TCP networking software evolves into TCP/IP protocol.

  Dec 78: "Association for Computers in the Humanities" [], an international professional society for people working in computer-aided research in literature and language studies, history, philosophy, and other humanities disciplines, and especially research involving the manipulation and analysis of textual materials - is formed.  
1979 Usenet news groups introduced. Text-based information is generated by user communities for user communities.

100 mln emails are sent each year, versus 135 bln pieces of first-class mail.

Two of the most popular early PC software programs, WordStar (a wordprocessor utilising markup tags) and dBase II (a database) are released.

1980 Telnet software introduced. Remote log-in and long-distance work (telecommuting) are now possible.

One mln personal computers in US.

1980: Details of the "Standard General Markup Language (SGML)" are published. The SGML encoding allows for great flexibility in providing texts for computer analysis and world-wide network delivery. The mark-up separates presentation and formatting information from structure and content information, and facilitates display on different devices. 1980: Susan Hockey publishes "A Guide to Computer Applications in the Humanities." Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1980. The book discusses encoding machine readable texts, word studies, concordances, dictionaries, morphological and syntactical analysis, stylistic analysis, authorship studies, textual criticism, sound patterns and indexing texts.  
1981 The future Internet spans 213 hosts.

Listserv mailing list is introduced. Online knowledge-groups and virtual seminars are formed.

Osborn, the first portable computer is released.

The first IBM-PC (with MS-DOS operating system) is released.

Teletel (= the future Minitel) network starts-up in France.

Bitnet network is launched. Bitnet provides electronic mail and listserv servers to distribute information, as well as file transfers.

Kermit file transfer protocol (to upload/download documents between computers) is released by Columbia U.

1981: The first digital version of the "Encyclopaedia Britannica" is created for the Lexis-Nexis service.

1981: "Melvyl Online Union Catalog" for the U. of California campuses is announced. Melvyl is to provide university-wide access to the holdings of all campus libraries, including the materials deposited in Regional Facilities.

sometime in the late 1981: Usenet newsgroup "fa.human-nets" is established. The group operates as a daily moderated digest with discussions of computer-aided human-to-human communications. Probably it is the most widely read ARPANET publication.

sometime in the late 1981: Usenet newsgroup "fa.poli-sci" (political science) is established.  
1982 The future Internet spans 235 hosts.

US networks linked with networks in Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, and UK.

In January 1982 the Usenet consists of 67 newsgroups.

1983 The Internet spans 562 hosts.

10 mln PCs in the US.

300,000 fax machines in the United States.

FidoNet, a direct mail exchange program to automatically transfer files between designated BBSs systems is created.

Lisa, the first personal computer with a graphic user interface launched by Apple Computer.

Apricot computer is launched in the UK.

Arpanet switches to TCP/IP protocol.

TCP/IP becomes available in BSD Unix operating system.

1983: The production version of "Melvyl Online Union Catalog" is launched. In 2002 the online catalogue contained over 10 mln unique records representing over 15 mln holdings. Over 8 mln searches were conducted in 2000-01.    
1984 The Internet spans 1,040 hosts.

Macintosh personal computer is introduced.

Mouse and windows technology are introduced.

Apple introduces 3.5" floppy.

CD-ROM technology (disk and drive) for computers developed by Sony and Philips.

Over 30 FidoNet (souped-up BBS) nodes are in existence world-wide.

Unix OS supports Internet connectivity.

The domain name system (DNS) is established.

NSF establishes NSFNet academic network in the US.

JANET academic network (based on X.25 protocol) is launched in the UK.

  Feb 84: First Usenet discussion group dedicated to a specific religion, "net.religion.jewish" is established.

Apr 84: Robert A. Kraft of U. of Pennsylvania starts editing "Offline" - a newsletter of the Computer Assisted Research Group (CARG), Council on the Study of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL). The newsletter [now at Offline/ offline.html] is initially distributed in print format.

sometime in 1984: John R. Abercrombie publishes "Computer Programs for Literary Analysis." Philadelphia: U. of Pennsylvania Press, 1984. The book discusses algorithms and presents sample programs in Basic and Pascal for textual analysis. Topics include indexing and concordance generation, textual criticism, searching algorithms and morphological analysis.

1985 The Internet spans 1,961 hosts.

File Transfer Protocol (ftp) is introduced. Files can be moved quickly. Archives of documents and software can be created.

CD-ROM technology is launched.

1985: Norman Shapiro, et al. publish "Towards an Ethics and Etiquette for Electronic Mail", Santa Monica, CA: Rand Corporation (publication R-3283 -NSF/RC), 1985. sometime in 1985: History Microcomputer Review (renamed in 1996 as History Computer Review [ISSN 1087-6758]) edited by James B.M. Schick of Pittsburg State U., is launched to discuss the subject of teaching history by means of a computer.

Jan 85: Bala Krishnamurthy of Purdue University creates an unmoderated Usenet group "net.nlang.india". The group aims to discuss the best deals for the travel to and from India, Indian food, the latest SouthAsian news, and popular Indian films and TV shows.

1986 The Internet spans 5,089 hosts.

241 Usenet groups.

The Great Renaming of the Usenet.

Cleveland Free-Net starts-up.

HyperCard software is used on Macintosh personal computers. The software is bundled free of charge with the MacOS. It enables amateur users of Mac to write object-oriented scripts, build relational databases and graphic-interfaces for other Macintosh programs.

  Mar 86: U. of Toronto publishes "Computers and the Humanities. Today's Research, Tomorrow's Teaching. Software Fair Guide and Conference Guide." Center for Computing in the Humanities, U. of Toronto, 1986. Sep 86: Usenet group "soc.culture.indian" is established. The newsgroup supersedes operations of the "net.nlang.india."
1987 The Internet spans 28,174 hosts.

259 Usenet groups.

NNTP (Network News Transfer Protocol) software links Usenet and the Internet.

Microsoft's Windows 1.0 operating system is introduced.

First fax boards for PCs are introduced.

NSFNET and JANET networks become linked.

Perl programming language is introduced.

Apr 87: Researchers at Xerox commence work which will eventually result in the Unicode standard [] - unique, universal, and uniform encoding of multilingual characters.

Aug 87: Edward Krol of U. of Illinois Urbana publishes online the first version of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Internet." [ cowtext/ comput ~1/ hitchhik.htm]

sometime in 1987: Grace Todino publishes "Using UUCP and Usenet". Fourth ed. Revised by Tim O'Reilly and Dale Dougherty. Newton, MA: O'Reilly & Associates, 1987.

sometime in 1987: "Melvyl" starts providing access to online abstracting and indexing databases.

Mar 87: "The Association for History and Computing (AHC)" [ ahc], an international organisation dedicated to the use of computers in historical research. is founded at a conference at Westfield College, U. of London. In the years to come the AHC will conduct workshops on Image Processing, Occupational Coding, Optical Character Recognition, Electronic Records, Data Archiving, Computing Techniques, Multimedia, Algorithmic Descriptions, Abstract Data Modelling, Maps and Mapping Software.

May 87: Willard McCarty of the Centre for Computing in the Humanities, U. of Toronto launches a Bitnet list "HUMANIST@ utoronto", an international electronic seminar on the application of computers to the humanities.

Nov 87: The first meeting of the "Text Encoding Initiative." TEI [] is sponsored by the Association for Computers in the Humanities and funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. It brings together a diverse group of scholars from many different disciplines and representing leading professional societies, libraries, archives, and projects in a number of countries in Europe, North America, and Asia.

prior to Nov 87: Usenet group "soc.culture.japan" is established to receive messages from a Bitnet mailing list "soc.culture.japan", operating from MIT. Later the mailing list is closed down and the discussions are conducted solely via the Usenet newsgroup. In June 1996 the newsgroup received 200 posts per day.

prior to Nov 87: Usenet group "soc.culture.china" is established.

1988 The Internet spans 26,000 hosts.

381 Usenet groups.

Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is introduced. Real-time text-based one-to-one and many-to-many 'conversations' become possible.

There are over 30,000,000 MS-DOS users world-wide.

sometime in 1988: Washington U. in St. Louis establishes "Wuarchive" ftp archive [] to host a variety of files, including mirrors of various open-source projects such as the Linux kernel, the GNU Project, and the Debian Project. At one point the archive is involved in 15% of all Internet traffic. Since early 1992 the archive also mirrors contents of the "Coombspapers" ftp archive (est. Dec 1991). Aug 88: "Islam" mailing list dealing with basic tenets of Islam and interpretations of the Qurą an is established.  
1989 The Internet spans 80,000 hosts.

40 Internet chat-room (IRC) servers.

44 mln PCs in the US.

4 mln fax machines in the US.

The Minitel spans 5 mln telephone nodes.

sometime in 1989: UnCover Reveal database [originally now at] is launched by the CARL (Colorado Alliance of Research Libraries). The UnCover database keeps track of some 17,000 scholarly journals. With this service, for a fee of $20 a year, one can receive via email the tables of contents from up to 50 of those journals every week. One can also set up as many as 25 different "search strategies" for all articles appearing in the UnCover database; successful "hits" are emailed as well. Institutional subscriptions are also available. Finally, one can arrange (via fax or email) for articles of interest to be faxed to the subscriber. Jan 89: HUMBUL, an online bulletin board dealing with applications of computers to the humanities is launched at the Office for Humanities Communication at the U. of Leicester in the UK. The bulletin board was made available via the JANET network [at the LEICESTER.HUMBUL address] and via BITNET mailing list HUMBUL@UK.AC.RL. In late 1991 the resource has moved to CTI Centre for Textual Studies and the Office for Humanities Communication, at U. of Oxford.

Feb 89: Yechiel Greenbaum launches the first scholarly mailing list and e-journal for the study of a specific religion - JUDAICA@ (aka "He'Asif") is established. Since 18 Aug 1993 the mailing list operates as "H-Judaic" (Jewish Studies Network) at

Aug 89: Paul Bellan-Boyer launches BUDDHIST@ [also at BUDDHIST@ jpntuvm0.bitnet], a forum on Indian and Buddhist Studies.

Sep 89: The "Offline" newsletter mentions for the first time existence of such networks as BITNET, CSNET, Internet, and NSFnet "which permit rapid communication and data sharing."

Nov 89: Eric Dahlin of The Humanities Computing Facility of the UC at Santa Barbara publishes a periodic electronic newsletter called "REACH, Research and Educational Applications of Computers in the Humanities."

Nov 89: Usenet soc.religion.islam (a moderated discussion group) is established.

Jan 89: Anthony Reid and other scholars from the Australian National U. start a paper publication (from a text prepared on a computer) of the "Echosea Newsletter" (Economic History of Southeast Asia. In June 1992 electronic files of the journal are archived (in ASCII format) at the "Coombspapers" ftp archive.

Apr 89: Wilson Ho, a graduate student from UC Davis and a small group of Hong Kong (HK) students studying in the US form an e-mail mailing list called "HKNET". Very soon the list had over 800 subscribers. In the mid-1990s the list carried almost exclusively news from HK and China, and announcements from Chinese organizations.

prior to 1989 May: Discussions of the Usenet group "soc.culture.china" are ported to SOC-CULTURE-CHINA@ [same as MD48@cmuccvma.bitnet] mailing list.

Jul 89: Fred Ho from U. of Waterloo in Waterloo, Canada initiates the newsgroup creation process for the Usenet group "soc.culture.hongkong."

Sep 89: Kim, Min-Sun of Michigan State U. calls for creation of a Usenet group "soc.culture.korea." The group gets established some time later that year.

1990 The Internet spans 313,000 hosts.

1,300 Usenet groups. becomes the first commercial ISP.

Hytelnet software is developed.

WWW technology for file publishing and online hypertext linking is introduced.

May 90: Sue A. Dodd of the U. of North Carolina publishes an online document "Bibliographic References for Computer Files in the Social Sciences: A Discussion Paper" [now at ~pm9k/ info/ compRef.html].

Jun 90: "The Text Encoding Initiative (TEI)" [], releases the first draft (known as "P1") of the Guidelines.

Jun 90: The first "Asian BBS Sysops' Conference" meets in Taipei, Taiwan. It is an annual event organised to foster communication among the amateur BBS system operators (SysOps) in East Asia.

Aug 90: David Robionson of UC. Berkeley launches "_Current_Cites_" (ISSN 1060-2356), an email-based monthly [now at serials/ currentc] with practical advice to librarians regarding the many types of Internet resources and efficient ways of accessing them. The journal was discontinued in Aug 1999.

sometime in 1990: John S. Quarterman publishes "The Matrix: Computer Networks and Conferencing Systems Worldwide." Bedford, Mass.: Digital Press, 1990.

sometime in 1990: Charles F Goldfarb publishes "The SGML Handbook", Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990.

sometime in 1990: Archie ftp semi-crawler search engine, is built by Peter Deutsch of MacGill U., Montreal, Canada. An archipelago of scattered ftp archives is melded into a coherent, distributed information system. In Mar 1993 there were 10 Archie services operating world-wide:,,,,,,,,, including the pioneering system at

sometime in 1990: The Coalition for Networked Information (CNI) is founded. CNI is an organization to advance the transformative promise of networked information technology for the advancement of scholarly communication and the enrichment of intellectual productivity. CNI's work is funded by the Association of Research Libraries, Educom, and CAUSE, and is focused on issues related to the developing networked information content; transforming organizations, professions, and individuals; and building technology, standards, and infrastructure.

Feb 90: Stevan Harnad of U. of Southampton launches "Psycoloquy" (ISSN 1055-0143) [], a refereed international, interdisciplinary electronic journal. "Psycoloquy" is published in email format and carries articles and peer commentary in all areas of psychology as well as cognitive science, neuroscience, behavioural biology, artificial intelligence, robotics/vision, linguistics and philosophy. The e-journal serves as a model for other e-journals.

Apr 90: Usenet "soc.religion.eastern" unmoderated discussion group on Hinduism, Buddhism (all forms), Jainism, Sikhism, and Shintoism is established.

Aug 90: During the 8th World Sanskrit Conference, Vienna, a panel is held to discuss the standardization of Sanskrit for electronic data transfer. Dominik Wujastyk presents a paper, titled "Standardization of Sanskrit for Electronic Data Transfer and Screen Representation," During the conference Sanskritists from Europe and the US discuss the possibilities of arriving at a standard assignment of ASCII codes for letters used in the romanization of Sanskrit and other Indic languages.

Nov 90: Dominik Wujastyk' s "Indology" list [originally at INDOLOGY@, now archived at] is established. The list serves professional scholars of classical Indian civilization. In March 1994 the list had 251 subscribers.

sometime in 1990: Robert Taylor, Michael Roach and John Malpas establish "Asian Classics Input Project" [now at and at], the first ftp archive with religious (Tibetan Buddhism) scriptures. The site provides text keyed-in by the monks at the Sera Mey Dratsang Mahayana Philosophy U., Karnataka, India.

sometime in 1990: David S. Miall edits "Humanities and the Computer: New Directions." Clarendon Press: Oxford, 1990. The book looks at the impact of computers on research and teaching in the Humanities.

prior to Feb 90: INDIA-L@utarlvm1.bitnet , The Indian Interest Group [also at INDIA-L%utarlvm1@] is established.

Feb 90: Unmoderated Usenet group "soc.culture.vietnamese" is established.

Mar 90: Usenet group "soc.culture.pakistan" is established.

prior to Apr 90: Usenet group "soc.culture.india" is established. This group parallels operations of the "soc.culture.indian" (est. Sep 1986).

sometime in 1990: "The CIA World Factbook", approx 2Mb of quality data, with the vital statistics of all Asian countries, is stored at the "Project Gutenberg" (e-texts archive) anonymous ftp site [originally at ftp:// etext]

1991 The Internet spans 376,000 hosts.

1,850 Usenet groups.

Gopher technology for linking of online information is introduced. Gopher provides means for making online hypertext links from directory pages to documents, or to other directory pages. Gopher also glues together other Gopher as well as Telnet, ftp, and WAIS services.

WAIS technology for file publishing and online linking are introduced. WAIS provides the online hypertext links from a central database to subsidiary databases, and first ever full-text indexing of online documents.

WWW technology enters daily use. It solves the 'Big Technological 3': URL (addressing) syntax, HTML (markup) language for documents, and HTTP (communications protocol) in the context of the client/server model. It also offers integration of the most of the earlier Internet tools and resources, namely Telnet, ftp, Archie, Gopher, Veronica (alas, not WAIS) into a seamless whole.

CD-recordable (CD-R) technology is released.

JANET network runs TCP/IP protocol in parallel with X.25.

Commercial use of the Internet is permitted.

Jan 91: Diane Kovacs of Kent State U. publishes the 1st edition of "The Directory of Scholarly E-Conferences" then called "Discussion Lists for Academics" on the LISTSERV Fileserver for HUMANIST@brownvm. Organized into two parts: 1) Journals and Newsletters and, 2) Academic Discussion Lists and Interest Groups. This guide is a directory to these resources with subject categorization of academic discussion lists. The publication is revised and released several times, including Strangelove, Michael and Diane Kovacs., Directory of Electronic Journals, Newsletters and Academic Discussion Lists. Washington, DC: Association of Research Libraries, 1992. The Directory's latest edition of Jan 2001 is available at

Feb 91: (CLR) The Consortium for Lexical Research, a repository for natural language processing software, lexical data, software tools and resources (services) is established. It is set up in the Computing Research Laboratory of New Mexico State U., Las Cruces, New Mexico. In Feb. 1994 the CLR had about 60 members, mostly academic institutions, including most US natural language processing centres.

Nov 91: A Bitnet list PCARAB-L@ sakfu00 (Discussion Forum on Personal Computers Arabization) is launched at King Faisal University in Hofuf, Saudi Arabia.

sometime in 1991: Matthew Rapaport publishes "Computer Mediated Communications: Bulletin Boards, Computer Conferencing, Electronic Mail, and Information Retrieval." NY: Wiley, 1991.

sometime in 1991: Contents of the WWW are manually catalogued in form of the centralised WWW Virtual library system residing on CERN's (Geneva, Switzerland) WWW server.

Feb 91: Donald Mabry of Mississippi State U establishes on address an "RA" ftp archive. This archive eventually evolves into the "Historical Text Archive" [].

May 91: Usenet group "sci.archaeology" is established to exchange information on "method and theory, pot hunting, egyptology, typology, dating, and other related topics."

Aug 91: Lynn Nelson of U. of Kansas establishes on address a "MALIN" ftp archive with materials of relevance to medieval history.

Oct 91: Richard P. Hayes of McGill U. establishes BUDDHA-L@ mailing list.

sometime in 1991: Barry Kapke establishes "DharmaNet" [now at].

prior to 1991 Apr: Tom Nimick and David C. Wright of Princeton U. establish CHINA@ pucc.bitnet [also @] Chinese Studies mailing list.

prior to 1991 Apr: Ken Klein of U. of Southern California establishes EMEDCH-L@ uscvm.bitnet (Early Medieval China) mailing list. The list focuses on the period between the Han and the Tang dynasties (3rd through 6th centuries A.D.).

Aug 91: "The Pakistan News Service" [now at] becomes the first system to introduce Pakistan News and Information on the Internet. PNS is distributed daily via listserv mailing list, ftp sites, gopher, newsgroups and world-wide web sites to readers in six continents in over fifty countries.

Oct 91: Paul H. Kratoska of National U. of Singapore establishes SEANET-L@nusvm.bitnet, a Southeast Asian studies list. In Apr 1993 the list had 444 users in 20 countries.

Nov 91: SAWNET (South Asian Women's NETwork) mailing list is launched [originally at usubrama[at], now at SAWWEB[at]] as a medium of communication by & for South Asian women. In April 2002 the list was reaching about 700 women in four continents.

prior to 1991 Nov 14: CHINA-NN@ asuacad.bitnet (CND-Global, China News Digest - Global) mailing list is established at the Arizona State U.

prior to 1991 Nov 14: CND-EP@ iubvm.bitnet (CND-EP, China News Digest - European/Pacific Branch) mailing list is established at the Indiana U.

prior to 1991 Nov 14: Lars E. Frederiksson and Patrik Faltstrom of Royal Institute of Technology establish ZHONGWEN@ (Chinese Computing Network, a forum on "Chinese Computing" with special attention to Europe) mailing list. There is also an associated ftp archive for Chinese related software.

prior to 1991 Nov 14: CSA-DATA@ uicvm.bitnet (Chinese Statistical Archive) mailing list is established.

prior to 1991 Nov 14: TWUNIV-L@ twnmoe10.bitnet (Taiwan Scholars and Students) mailing list is established.

prior to 1991 Nov 14: NIHONGO@ (Japanese Language Discussion List) mailing list is established at the MIT.

Dec 91: T. Matthew Ciolek of the Australian National U. establishes "Coombspapers" archive [ coombspapers] with documents and materials of relevance to Asian Studies and Social Sciences. In April 2002 Coombspapers electronic research collection comprised 1512 ASCII files with 61.1 Mb of data.

late 1991: Robert M. Hartwell, Marianne Colson Hartwell and their students create a stand-alone database detailing the careers and kinship networks of 25,000 mainly Song dynasty officials and the software applications to analyse that data.

sometime in 1991: Ulysses Li establishes "The Internet Chinese Text Archive" [now at chinese-text] the first Chinese text archive on the Internet. It was formerly known to web surfers as "Xiaoyu's Collection" or "Carp Temple." This collection had once been served by the server of Independent Federation of Chinese Students and Scholars (IFCSS) Chinese Community Information Center (CCIC).

1992 The Internet spans 727,000 hosts.

20 WWW servers.

4,300 Usenet groups.

Over 10,000 FidoNet (souped-up BBS) nodes are in existence world-wide.

Lynx (text) web browser is developed.

Jan 92: Brendan P. Kehoe of Indiana U. places online "A Beginner's Guide to the Internet: Zen and the Art of the Internet", First Edition, January 1992 [ docproject/ zen/ zen-1.0_toc.html] (2nd edition: Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1993).

1992 Jun: The Unicode Standard Version 1.0, is printed.

1992 Jul: Arlene Rinaldi of Florida Atlantic U. publishes on NETTRAIN@ mailing list the first "Draft of Guidelines and Netiquette" [ archives/ nettrain.html]. Over the next few years the document evolves into a highly influential online publication, distributed by email, ftp, gopher, and www, "The Net: User Guidelines and Netiquette" [ netiquette/ netiquette.html]. Volunteers round the world translate the Guide into Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish, and Swedish.

sometime in 1992: "Veronica" gopher crawler search engine is introduced. "Veronica" search engines are used to locate files and gopher links within the ever-growing gopherspace.

Apr 92: Asim Mughal and Nauman Kassim Mysorewala of the of the Alumni Association, Caltech, Pasadena, California establish MUSLIMS@ [also at listserv@ asuacad.bitnet]. The mailing list, also known as the "Islamic Information and News Network", is a moderated forum dedicated to educate the network communities on issues relating to the Muslims in an academic & non-political environment. In March 1994 the list had 827 direct subscribers, and an estimated readership of 14,000.

Apr 92: Usenet newsgroup "sci.classics" focused on study of Classical Greek and Roman culture, languages, history, and art is established.

May 92: Usenet newsgroup "sci.anthropology" is established.

May 92: James A. Cocks of U. of Louisville establishes ISLAM-L@ ulkyvm.bitnet [also at listserv@] mailing list. In March 1994 the list had 328 subscribers.

Jun 92: Michael Strangelove publishes online of the first guide to religion and spirituality online - "An Electric Mystic's Guide to the Internet"

Sep 92: Thomas Zielke, U. of Oldenburg (Germany) reads his paper "History at Your Fingertips, Electronic Information and Communications for Historians" at a conference in Lawrence, Kansas. In the paper Zielke articulates his vision of the "History Network" as a constellation of scholars and electronic resources connected by an array of electronic devices (Zielke 1993).

Dec 92: Basil Hashem publishes "Islamic Computing Resource Guide, an ASCII document originally stored in the anonymous ftp archive at

Dec 92: Richard Jensen of U. of Illinois-Chicago releases online "H-Net Planning Document (version 3.1; Dec 6, 1992)" [ lists_archive/ Humanist/ v06/ 0425.html]. The document lays foundations for the future H-Net project. In the due course H-Net (now at becomes an international interdisciplinary organization of scholars and teachers dedicated to developing the educational potential of the Internet. H-Net's edited lists and web sites publish peer reviewed essays, multimedia materials, and discussion for colleagues and the interested public. In 2003 the project sponsored over 100 free electronic, interactive newsletters ("lists") edited by scholars in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, and the Pacific. H-Net lists reach over 100,000 subscribers in more than 90 countries.

sometime in 1992: the "Electronic Text Center" at the U. of Virginia Library was established (a) to build and maintain an internet-accessible collection of SGML and XML texts and images; (b) to build and maintain user communities adept at the creation and use of these materials.

sometime in 1992: Janice Reiff publishes "Structuring the Past: The Use of Computers in History", Washington: AHA, 1992.

Jan 92: Elliot Parker of Central Michigan U. establishes SEASIA-L@ msu and SEASIA-L@ [also published as a Usenet discussion group bit.listserv.seasia-l] Southeast Asian studies list [archived at archives/ seasia-l.html]. In April 1993 the list had 701 users in 21 countries. In June 2003 the list had 1,769 subscribers.

Feb 92: T. Mathew Ciolek publishes in the "Coombspapers" ftp archive a file with the bibliography of the Geoffrey Samuel's book "Civilized Shamans: Buddhism in Tibetan Societies," 1993. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC.

May 92: T. Mathew Ciolek publishes in the "Coombspapers" ftp archive electronic files of the "Thai-Yunnan Project"

Jul 92: Richard Giragosian of the Armenian National Committee of America launches "The "TransCaucasus: A Chronology" (ISSN 1078-3113), a monthly e-journal with a chronological summary of the social, economic and political events in the lower Caucasus [ anca/ transcaucasus.asp].

prior to 1992 Aug: Kent Mulliner of the Ohio State U. establishes and moderates CORMOSEA@ mailing list of the Committee On Research Materials On Southeast Asia (est. 1969).

sometime in 1992: Oliver Wild of the Atmospheric Composition Program, Frontier Research System for Global Change, Yokohama publishes "The Silk Road" web site [now at ~oliver/ silk.html].

sometime in 1992: APNET-L@ jpnsut00 (Asia Pacific Network) mailing list is established.

sometime in 1992: INDIA@ pccvm (India) mailing list is established.

sometime in 1992: INDIA-D@ templevm (The India Interest Group) mailing list is established.

sometime in 1992: INDIA-L@ templevm (The India News Network) mailing list is established.

sometime in 1992: TAMIL-L@ dhdurz1 (Tamil Studies) mailing list is established.

sometime in 1992: JAPAN@ finhutc (Info-Japan) mailing list is established.

sometime in 1992: JPINFO-L@ jpnsut00 (Information About Japan) mailing list is established.

sometime in 1992: JTEM-L@ uga (Japanese Through Electronic Media) mailing list is established.

sometime in 1992: NIHONGO@ finhutc (Nihongo) mailing list is established.

sometime in 1992: CURRENTS@ pccvm (South Asian News and Culture Magazine) mailing list is established.

sometime in 1992: PACARC-L@ wsuvm1 (Pacific Rim Archaeology) mailing list is established.

sometime in 1992: "Lao Net" [now] is launched. Since Jan 1996 the site hosts the "Laos WWW Virtual Library" [ laoVL.html].

1993 The Internet spans 1,313,000 hosts.

Over 60,000 BBSs in the US.

Over 200 WWW servers.

8,300 Usenet groups.

"Mosaic" graphic WWW browser introduced. Online documents can now contain both text and images.

There are over 25,000,000 licensed Windows users world-wide.

The White House web site is established.

Over 700 university library catalogues are accessible online via the telnet.

Jan 93: The First Meeting of member institutions of "The Pacific Neighborhood Project" held in Honolulu, Hawaii. The meeting discusses ways of coordinating and standardizing online activities among scholars in the countries around the Pacific Rim.

Mar 1993: Tim-Berners Lee and Arthur Secret launch the WWW Virtual Library project []. The project, conceived as a centralised service, aims at construction and regular maintenance of a subject bibliography of web links.

Jun 93: "What's New with NCSA Mosaic and the WWW" online newsletter [ SDG/ Software /Mosaic/ Docs/ whats-new.html] is launched at the NCSA Mosaic Web site. It is used to announce the newest developments in gopher and web -based information resources. Due to the explosive growth of the WWW and information overload the service was discontinued in June 1996.

Aug 93: David Riggins of the "Gopher Jewels Project" which catalogues Gopher sites by category (est. Jun 1993, closed down May 1995) publishes "Design Tips For Gopher."

Sep 93: Louis Rosenfeld of the U. of Michigan launches an ftp/ Gopher/ WWW-based "Clearinghouse for Subject-Oriented Internet Resource Guides" [originally at chhome.html]. Initially, the Clearinghouse houses about 20 guides and is accessed about 7,000 times a month.

Sep 93: Lynn Nelson's "WWW VL History" becomes the first module of the distributed WWW Virtual Library project.

late 1993: "Jughead", local Gopherspace search engines is introduced. Each Jughead keeps track of data and links known only to single, usually large-scale, Gopher server.

late 1993: There are about 9 "Veronica" servers established at various places in the world. These databases are provided by NYSERNet, US; PSINet, US; SUNET, US; Tachyon Communications, US; U. of Bergen, Norway; U. of Manitoba, Canada; U. Texas, Dallas, US; U. of Koeln, Germany and U. of Pisa, Italy.

sometime in 1993: "Melvyl" starts providing access to automatic current-awareness services and to full texts of selected journal articles.

sometime in 1993: "Universal Multiple-Octet Coded Character Set" (UCS), aka ISO/IEC 10646 is published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). It is the first officially standardized coded character set with the purpose to eventually include all characters used in all the written languages in the world (and, in addition, all mathematical and other symbols). It forms the basis for the Unicode character set specified by a consortium of major American computer manufacturers.

Jan 93: "History Network" list, HN-ASK-L@ UKANVM, is established. The History Network planning committee comprises 15 members: Thomas Zielke, U. of Oldenburg (Germany), Kevin Berland, Pennsylvania State U. Jim Cocks, U. of Louisville, Charlie Dell, U of Missouri, Kansas City, Lydia Fish, SUNY at Buffalo, Richard Jensen, U. of Illinois Chicago, Larry Jewell, Purdue U., Ellis "Skip" Knox, Boise State U., Agnes Kruchio, U. of Toronto, Don Mabry, Mississippi State U., Lynn Nelson, U of Kansas, Bob Pasker, San Francisco State U., Wendy Plotkin, U of Illinois Chicago, Kelly Richter, U of Illinois Chicago, Bayla Singer, U of Pennsylvania.

Feb 93: Richard Jensen of the "H-Net" and Thomas Zielke of "The History Network" join the forces.

Feb 93: Wendy Plotkin launches "H-Urban", the first scholarly mailing list published by the H-Net. H-Net (originally called "History On-Line" later, "Humanities On-Line", now "Humanities & Social Sciences OnLine") receives financial support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and is hosted by the U. of Illinois-Chicago and Michigan State U.

Mar 93: Lynn Nelson of the U. of Kansas establishes WWWVL History (aka "HNSource", aka "History WWW Virtual Library"), as an lynx-based (i.e. WWW text based) information server.

Apr 93: Lewis Lancaster of U. C. Berkeley and Urs App announce the formation of the "EBTI - Electronic Buddhist Text Initiative" [originally at /iriz/ irizhtml/ ebti/ ebtie.htm, now at ~acmuller/ ebti.htm]. EBTI grows into an association of about 25 groups involved in the input of Buddhist materials.

Jun 93: H-Net project provides a home to 10 scholarly mailing lists: H-Urban (Urban history), H-Rural (Rural and agricultural history), H-Women (Women's history), H-Diplo (Diplomatic history, foreign affairs, international relations), HOLOCAUS (Holocaust studies; anti-semitism; related themes of modern history), H-South (US South), H-CivWar (US Civil War), H-LatAm (Latin American History), H-Law (Legal and Constitutional history), H-Ethnic (American ethnic & immigration history).

sometime in spring 1993: "Discus - Religious Studies Journal", a UK electronic publication, starts being distributed on computer disks.

Jul 93: Barry Kapke launches "DEFA - Dharma Electronic Files Archive" (an ftp site) [originally at pub/ dharma, now at pub/ docs/ books/ religious/ Buddhism/ DEFA].

Jul 93: "Tantric-News" WAIS database is established on address.

Jul 93: Mas'ood Cajee of U. Oklahoma, Norman publishes on the Usenet newsgroup "" his document "CyberMuslim 1.0: A Guide to Islamic Resources on the Internet".

Aug 93: "Chogye (Korean) Zen Texts Archive" gopher site is established.

Dec 93: Petr Zemanek and Furat Rahman Petr Vavrousek of Charles U., Prague, Czech Republic establish CAAL@ list. Computers and ancient languages (CAAL) list is focused on the users of computer databases and hypertext for the study of ancient Indo-European, Afro-Asiatic (Hamito-Semitic) and other languages.

sometime in 1993: Lewis Lancaster heads the newly formed American Academy of Religions' "Electronic Publications Committee."

sometime in 1993: American Association for History and Computing (AAHC) [] is founded to support and encourage the productive use of electronic technology across all fields of historical endeavour.

sometime in 1993: John C. Huntington of the Ohio State U. establishes a standalone "Buddhist Iconography Database" with approx. 3GB of slides of Buddhist art and iconography from all over Asia.

Jan 93: An unmoderated Usenet group "alt.war.vietnam" has been created before 10 Jan 1993, but later than 23 Dec 1991. By the early July 2003 the group has exchanged over 228,000 messages.

Mar 93: Sonam Dargyay of the Indiana U. launches "TIBET-L" mailing list on LISTSERV@ iubvm.bitnet and listserv@

Apr 93: David Bedell of U. of Alabama sends to the Usenet newsgroup "soc.culture.vietnamese" an annotated register of email lists dealing with Asian and the Pacific Studies. They include: ASPIRE-L@ iubvm (Linkages for Students from Asean Nations) 663 users in 10 countries. VIETNET@ uscvm (The Bitnet feed for the soc.cuture.vietnamese newsgroup on Usenet) In Vietnamese & English. 59 users in 5 countries. BERITA@ (Berita dari Tanahair). News about Malaysia & SE Asia, in Eng. & Malay. MISG-L@ psuvm (Malaysian Islamic Study Group). In Malay & some English. 288 users in 7 countries. HELWA-L@ psuvm (Malaysian Women in U.S. and Canada). Division of MISG-L. For women only, in Malay & English. 97 users in 6 countries. MSM-NET@ (Majlis Syura Muslimun Network). Discussion in Malay, English, & Arabic for Malaysian Muslims in the UK & Ireland. PERMIAS@ suvm (Indonesian Student Association). In Indonesian. 93 users all in US. PERMIKA@ mcgill1 (Indonesian Group - Montreal). This is a local list, limited to subscribers at McGill U.; 38 users all in Canada. IDS@ suvm (Indonesian Development Studies - Network). News & discussion in Indonesian & English. 474 users in 12 countries. PACIFIC@ brufpb (Forum for and about Pacific Ocean and Islands). For Pacific Island & Pacific Rim nations. 184 users in 18 countries. CPS-L@ hearn (CPS-L: Centre for Pacific Studies Discussion and Mailing List). In English; 18 users in 5 countries.

Apr 93: T. Matthew Ciolek establishes "Coombsquest" gopher [gopher://]. The site, now defunct, annotates and keeps track of online resources dealing with Aboriginal Studies, Asian Studies, Buddhist Studies, Demography, History, Linguistics, Pacific Studies, Prehistory & Archaeology.

Jun 93: John McRae of Cornell U. launches a gopher site dedicated to issues of CJK computing.

May 93: T. Mathew Ciolek publishes "ANU-Thai-Yunnan" WAIS database, with bibliographical notes on the Thai-Yunnan region, was published by the Coombs Computing Unit at the ANU, Canberra, Australia.

mid 93: "The Australian Centre of the Asian Spatial Information and Analysis Network (ACASIAN)" [] is established at the Griffith U., Brisbane, Australia.

Jul 93: Hartmut Bohn of U. of Trier publishes an online document "ftp Sites With China/ Chinese Related Software" with a list of 15 resources.

Aug 93: Anthony and Rebecca Bichel launch "Interactive Central Asia Resource Project (ICARP)" [now at] as part of a graduate research project at the U. of Hawai'i.

Dec 93: Hartmut Bohn of U. of Trier publishes an online document "China/Chinese Related Mailing Lists" with a list of 37 resources and another document "China/Chinese Related Gopher Servers and WAIS and WWW" which lists 18 resources.

1994 The Internet spans 2.2 mln hosts.

850 WWW servers.

750 WAIS servers.

10,700 Usenet groups.

"Labyrinth" graphic 3-D virtual reality WWW browser is introduced.

"Netscape" WWW browser, is developed by Marc Andreessen. Partial integration of the WWW and email is now possible.

Feb 94: "Jerry's Guide to the World Wide Web "Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle" is established. The online guide eventually evolves into the "Yahoo" directory and publishes, among other information, Yahoo > Regional > Regions > Asia [ Regional/regions/asia].

Apr 94: WebCrawler WWW crawler search engine is launched. In Mar 1995 it was sold to AOL, and in Nov 1996 it was acquired by Excite.

May 94: The "Text Encoding Initiative (TEI)" [], releases the first official version of the Guidelines ("P3").

Jul 94: The "Clearinghouse for Subject-Oriented Internet Resource Guides" [originally at chhome.html] (est. Sep 1993) houses now about 140 guides and is accessed about 70,000 times a month (i.e. 500 times per month per guide).

Sep 94: Jeffrey Friedl announces the new version of his Japanese- English English-Japanese dictionary at the Carnegie Mellon U. School of Computer Science [originally at cgi-bin/ j-e].

sometime in 1994: Britannica Online [], the first encyclopaedia for the Internet, makes entire text of the Encyclopaedia Britannica available worldwide. That year the first version of the Britannica on CD-ROM was also published.

sometime in 1994: U. of Texas at Austin establishes "Perry-Castaneda Library Map Collection" [originally at LibrariesList/ PCL/ Map_collection/ asia.html, now at maps/ index.html].

sometime in 1994: U. C., Santa Barbara launches "Alexandria Digital Library" [], a working online digital library with collections of geographically referenced materials and services for accessing those collections.

sometime in 1994: Robert Rankin publishes online "Doctor Bob's Guide to Offline Internet Access" (a.k.a. "Accessing The Internet By Email"). The document [now at faqs/ internet-services/ access-via-email] was translated into 34 languages: Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese Big5, Chinese GB, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Esperanto, Farsi, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovakian, Somali, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Ukrainian, and Urdu. Since 1999 the guide has been edited by Gerald E. Boyd and was last time updated in Apr 2002.

sometime in 1994: Angell, D., and B. Heslop publish "The Elements of E-mail Style", New York: Addison-Wesley, 1994.

Jan 94: "Chogye (Korean) Zen Buddhism" web site [originally at staff/ snewton/ zen/ index.html] is established.

Mar 94: Web publication of electronic text files of the Bible and Qur'an [at].

Apr 94: "The Journal of World Anthropology (JWA)" (ISSN 1075-2579) [now at academic/ department/ anthropology/ JWA] is established in ftp/gopher formats, and as a mailing list [JWA@].

May 94: Christopher John Fynn puts in the public domain "TibKey" and the font "Tibetan Modern A" as a part of his "Tibetan Tools for Windows" suite.

summer 1994: Charles Prebish and Damien Keown launch the "Journal of Buddhist Ethics" (ISSN 1076-9005) [now at].

Sep 94: H-Net project now provides a home to 43 scholarly mailing lists.

Sep 94: T. Matthew Ciolek establishes "Buddhist Studies WWW Virtual Library" [originally at WWWVL-Buddhism.html, now at WWWVL-Buddhism.html].

Oct 94: "Thesaurus Indogermanischer Text- und Sprachmaterialien (Titus)" project [] is launched in Germany. The project aims to digitise, encrypt and tag text materials from languages that are relevant for Indo-European studies.

sometime in 1994: "The Buddhist Internet Database", now "Digital Buddhist Library and Museum (DBLM)" [ DBLM/ index.htm] is established in Taiwan.

Feb 94: David Magier of Columbia U. establishes "International Directory of South Asia Scholars (IDSAS)," an interactive online searchable database [now at cu/ lweb/ indiv/ southasia/ cuvl/ directory.html]. Subsequently this database becomes accessible via the "South Asia Gopher". In Apr 97, the site contained 572 records.

Mar 94: David Magier establishes "South Asian Studies Gopher (SAG)" [gopher:// 11/ clioplus/ scholarly/ SouthAsia]. SAG is one of the parts of the Columbia's "CLIO Plus" catalogue of "Scholarly Electronic Resources by Subject."

Mar 94: Carlyle A. Thayer of the Australian Defence Force Academy deposits in the "Coombspapers" ftp archive the first of his 27 research papers (in ASCII format) on politics and society of Vietnam.

Mar 94: Stanford U. establishes "X Guide" (Stanford Experimental Guide to Japan Information Resources) web site.

Mar 94: Steven A. Leibo of the Sage Colleges & Suny-Albany and Frank F. Conlon of the U. of Washington, Seattle co-found the "H-ASIA" - the Asian history and culture list [now at ~asia] as part of the "H-NET" family of lists.

Mar 94: T. Matthew Ciolek establishes "Asian Studies WWW Virtual Library" [ WWWVL-AsianStudies.html], a bibliography of online resources dealing with Asia. The first version of the document catalogues about 40 web sites (totalling some 500 web pages) and about 20 gopher sites.

Apr 94: T. Matthew Ciolek establishes "The Asian Studies WWW Monitor Journal" (ISSN 1329 -9778) [now at asia-www-monitor.html] under an initial title "What's New in WWW Asian Studies Newsletter".

Jun 94: One of the first corporate web-sites, "The Batish Institute of Indian Music and Fine Arts" is established [originally on RELATED/ Batish].

Jul 94: The Academia Sinica announces its WWW server [] and a gopher server [originally at gopher://].

Jul 94: "Asia-Pacific EXchange (Electronic) Journal (APEX-J)" (ISSN 1077-114X) is launched at U. Hawaii and Kapiolani Community College as an ftp publication. The Journal is an outgrowth of the electronic forum, APEX-L. The purpose of APEX-L list, established by Jim Shimabukuro, is to promote international and multicultural education on college campuses, with a special focus on Asian and Pacific curricula, instructional strategies, educational resources, and campus/community activities.

Sep 94: Carlos McEvilly announces "The Chinese-Language-Related Information Page". [The site was originally located at pub/ mcevilly/ www/ chinfo.html].

sometime in 1994: David Magier launches the "SARAI" (South Asia Resource Access on the Internet) web site.

Oct 94: Chuck Gardner runs the historic (in the Internet terms) "soc.culture.filipino" web site [originally at SCF, now at SCF].

Dec 94: Wataru Ebihara of St. Olaf College publishes at the college's Gopher the first version of his online document: "Internet Guide For Asian American Cybernauts (IGAAC)." The Guide lists relevant electronic mailing lists, Usenet newsgroups, Gopher and WWW servers. The guide also provides a list of Asian American organizations having Internet addresses, and details of selected sites for finding electronic documents.

Dec 94: Since its launch 8 months ago "The Asian Studies WWW Monitor" announced details of 20 new or improved Asian Studies' online resources.

1995 The Internet spans 5.8 mln hosts.

23,500 WWW servers.

Microprocessor (first marketed 1971) speed reaches 250,000,000 'additions' per second.

WWW data traffic surpasses that of the Minitel for the first time.

16.5 mln Usenet users.

America Online (AOL) passes the 4 mln subscriber mark.

"Vatican: the Holy See" web site is established.

Over 950 ftp archive sites containing some 5,700,000 files comprising over 94 Gigabytes (94,000 MB) of data.

RealAudio narrowcasting software is introduced.

Java programming language. Client-side, on-the-fly supplementary data processing can be performed using safe, downloadable micro-programs (applets).

Mar 95. Stuart Weibel and Eric Miller of OCLC lead the first workshop for "The Dublin Core Metadata Initiative" (DCMI) [] in Dublin, Ohio. DCMI is an organization dedicated to promoting the widespread adoption of interoperable metadata standards and to developing specialized metadata vocabularies for describing resources that enable more intelligent electronic information discovery systems.

May 95: Xia Li and Nancy Crane of U. of Vermont produce a seminal document "Bibliographic Formats for Citing Electronic Information" [now at web/ 20001109171800/ ~ncrane/ estyles]. The document adopts the APA & MLA citation conventions to the requirements of the electronic media.

Jun: "Metacrawler" WWW meta-search engine is introduced. The content of several WWW search engines can be quickly and automatically interrogated at the same time.

Jun 95: Jacob Nielsen publishes the first article in the "Alertbox" series of commentaries on "Current Issues in Web Usability" [ alertbox]. The site proves to be immensely popular (50,000 page views in 1995 and over 6 mln in 2001) and subsequently it is translated into German and Japanese.

Jul 95: Jeffrey P. Bezos launches in Seattle the first online bookstore, By late 1998 the cyberstore, with a massive online database of printed publications, sold books to 4.5 mln people from more than 160 countries.

Aug 95: Internet access is officially launched by the Prime Minister for the general public in India. Indian scholars are now able to explore and contribute to the world of networked information.

Aug 95: JSTOR [] is established as an independent not-for-profit organization. In early June 2003 JSTOR published online 2,062,106 articles from 322 journals.

Dec 95: Altavista WWW crawler search engine [] is launched. A very fast search of 30-50% of the WWW is made possible.

sometime in 1995: Project "Muse" [] is launched by the Johns Hopkins U. Press, in collaboration with the Milton S. Eisenhower Library at Johns Hopkins U., to offer the full text of JHUP scholarly journals via the www.

Jan 95: Javed Ahmad Ghamidi launches the first Islamic e-periodical, "Renaissance: A Monthly Islamic Journal" []. The journal was the first time released in print in January 1991.

Jan 95: H-Net project provides a home to 57 scholarly mailing lists.

Apr 95: Urs App constructs at Hanazono U. "The International Research Institute for Zen Buddhism (IRIZ)" web site [originally iriz/ irizhtml/ irizhome.htm, now at iriz]. The site is officially launched in June 1995.

Apr 95: Michael Witzel of Harvard U. and Enrica Garzilli of Harvard U., the latter now of the U. of Macerata, publish online the first issue of the "Electronic Journal of Vedic Studies (IJVS) ISSN 1084-7561 [now at ~india/ ejvs].

May 95: Brian Ross, Richard Rohde and John Tegtmeier launch a moderated Usenet newsgroup "soc.history.war.vietnam" (aka SHWV).

May 95: Moo-Young Han of Duke U. establishes "The Korean-American Science and Technology News" (ISSN 1089-7518) an international weekly online newsletter [at ~myhan/ s-kastn.html]. In 2003 KASTN was read by approximately 17,000 professionals worldwide, especially in North America, East Asia and Western Europe.

Aug 95: Enrica Garzilli publishes online the first issue of the "International Journal of Tantric Studies (IJTS)" (ISSN 1084-7553) [now at ijts].

Sep 95: Ludovico Magnocavallo publishes a web interface to a previously existing ftp site dealing with the Vedic and Tantric Studies (EJVS-IJTS ftp Archives - Fonts and Utilities) [ members/ india/ fonts].

Oct 95: John C. Huntington and Susan L. Huntington launch on the web "The Huntington Photographic Archive of Buddhist and Related Art" [].

Jan 95: Jim Zwick publishes "Mark Twain on the Philippines" [ ai/ twain/ index.html].

Feb 95: David Bedell, U. of Bridgeport publishes a seminal online document: "Review Of Bitnet/ Internet Lists For Northeast Asia."

Feb 95: Asian/Pacific Studies Subject-Oriented Bibliographies" [ WWWVLAsian/ VLBibl.html] site is launched.

Jun 95: "Department of State Foreign Affairs Network (DOSFAN)" is established by The State Department's Bureau of Public Affairs and the U. of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) [originally at gopher://, now at ERC/ index.html]. DOSFAN is a collaborative effort to present online a broad range of up-to-date foreign policy information on about Near East, South Asia, East Asia and the Pacific.

Jun 95: Wataru Ebihara publishes the web version of his "Internet Guide For Asian American Cybernauts (IGAAC)" [ ~ebihara/ igaac2.html].

Jul 95: Stephen Arod Shirreffs publishes online a document entitled SEASCALINFO, now called "Southeast Asia Web: Internet Resources for Scholars, Researchers and Friends of Southeast Asian Studies" [ seasiaweb].

Aug 95: Susan Prentice and George Miller of the Australian National U. Library establish online "Chinese Serials Database" (in Oct 96 there were TOCs of 103 serials from the PRC) and "Indonesian Serials Database" (in Oct 96 there were TOCs of 38 serials from the Indonesia). Both systems initially operate from T. Matthew Ciolek's server [], and about a year later they are moved to the Library's machine.

Nov 95: Lay Poh of Singapore publishes online a document entitled "Electronic Resources On Asia - A General Guide."

Nov 95: Enrica Garzilli publishes online the first issue of the "Journal of South Asia Women Studies" (JSAWS) ISSN 1084-7478 [now at jsaws].

Nov 95: Hanno Lecher of Vienna U. establishes "Internet Guide for China Studies (IGCS)" [originally at Sinologie/ netguide.htm]. Since Oct 28, 1996 the Guide acts as the China WWW Virtual Library [ igcs/] In June 2003 the guide provided annotated links to 1500 online resources.

Dec 95: T. Matthew Ciolek establishes "TIBETAN-STUDIES-L@" - a scholarly mailing list on Tibetan history and culture. In 2003 the list had over 550 subscribers.

Dec 95: During the past 12 months "The Asian Studies WWW Monitor" announced details of 475 new or improved Asian Studies' online resources. For comparison, a year earlier the Monitor announced 20 resources.

sometime in 1995: "Asian Studies Network Information Center" [ asnic.html] is established.

sometime in 1995: Robert Felsing develops a website for the "Council on East Asian Libraries (CEAL)," Association for Asian Studies, Inc. [originally at ~felsing/ ceal/ welcome.html].

sometime in 1995: Jonathan Teoh Eng establishes "The Hakka Global Network (HGN)" [now at hakka/ news.htm] as a "manually run Internet mailing list" to provide a forum for "a lively, transnational discourse on [China's] Hakka culture and Hakka social experiences." In March of 1996, the list had 164 subscribers from over 16 countries.

sometime in 1995: Suzanne McMahon of the UC Berkeley Library establishes "South Asian Diaspora" web site [ SSEAL/ SouthAsia/ diaspora.html]. The site includes: Photographs, Documents, Maps, Bibliographic Guides, links to Electronic Resources, and (in 1996) the Diaspora Project Database, where researchers concentrating on the South Diaspora are encouraged to enter details of their projects.

sometime in 1995: Matthias Kaun of Christian- Albrechts-U. of Kiel establishes a web site for the "European Association of Sinological Librarians (EASL)" [now at].

1996 The Internet spans 14.3 mln hosts.

100,000 WWW servers.

"Hotmail" a free, web-based and anonymous e-mail system is launched.

Flash Animator software introduced.

Apr 96: About 175 North American daily newspapers are available on the World Wide Web. About 775 publications are available online worldwide.

May 96: ISO Secretariat produces "International Standard ISO 690-2: Bibliographic references - Electronic documents or parts thereof " [ iso/ tc46sc9/ standard/ 690-2e.htm].

May 96: Alastair Smith of Victoria U, Wellington, NZ, establishes a web page on information quality and "Evaluation of information sources" [ staff/ alastair_smith/ evaln/ evaln.htm].

May 96: D.K. Agencies (P) Ltd, India's leading online bookstore [] is launched. The bookstore offers free online access to a massive database of books published in India.

Jun 96: Brewster Kahle develops Internet Archive [], to store permanently contents of the WWW.

sometime in 1996: Use of computers for the religious purposes of Islam is officially approved by the Qom Seminary in Iran.

Feb 96: A web site of "Al-Qur'an was-Sunnah Society" [] is launched. The site has two objectives: Tasfiyah (cleansing/purifying) and Tarbiyah (educating/cultivating) the essential tenets of Islam.

Jul 96: Tamil newspaper, "The Muzhakkam Tamil Weekly" web edition [] commences operations.

Sep 96: Richard Salomon and Collett Cox embark on The British Library / U. of Washington "Early Buddhist Manuscripts Project" [ ebmp]

Oct 96: John Gardner publishes online 10mb of Vedic texts, including Rig Veda and Shatapatha BraahmaNa, with detailed indexes in form of the "Vedavid" web site.

Nov 96: - online edition of a leading printed daily from New Delhi started.

sometime in 1996: Jost Gippert conducts experiments with scanning Tocharian manuscripts from the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz in Berlin.

Jan 96: Philip C Brown of the Ohio State U. launches launches "H-Japan", History of Japan, an H-Net scholarly mailing list [ ~japan].

Feb 96: Marilyn Shea of U. of Maine at Farmington establishes "China Bibliography: Collections of Resources" [ China/ bibtxt2.html], a collection of bibliographies on topics ranging from Buddhism in China to those on Gangs, Triads and Criminals; Rural China; and Han Dynasty.

prior to May 1996 (but later than Nov 1995): The "Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS)" web site is launched. NIAS is an international research institute [] funded by the governments of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.

May 96: Nixi Cura launches "Chinese and Japanese Art History News", subsequently called "Chinese and Japanese Art History WWW Virtual Library" [now at gsas/ dept/ fineart/ html/ chinese/ index.html].

Jun 96: Shimpei Yamashita of Stanford U. establishes Usenet group "soc.culture.japan.moderated." The newsgroup "soc.culture.japan" (est. before Nov 1987) continues to operate as unmoderated group.

Sep 96: Robert Felsing of U. Oregon publishes web pages on "How To Read Internet Information In Chinese, Japanese and Korean" [originally at ~felsing/ ceal/ welcome.html].

prior to October 1996 (but later than Nov 1995): Apurba Kundu of Bradford U., UK launches the web site of the British Association for South Asian Studies (BASAS) []. The site was originally published at

Oct 96: Nerida Cook and Susan MacDougall of the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) complete work on their book "Asian Resources: a directory of databases on Asia accessible in Australia", Canberra: Asia and Pacific Special Interest Group, ALIA. The 148 pages document lists 67 public access databases, gopher- and web-sites; 68 commercial databases; and 6 commercial information search services.

Dec 96: During the past 12 months "The Asian Studies WWW Monitor" announced details of 632 new or improved Asian Studies' online resources. For comparison, a year earlier the Monitor announced 475 resources.

1997 The Internet spans 21.8 mln hosts.

650,000 Web servers.

71,618 mailing lists registered at Liszt, a mailing list directory.

190 bln emails and 190 bln pieces of first-class mail are sent each year.

DVD technology (players and movies) is released. A DVD-recordable standard is created.

Web TV is introduced.

Extensible Markup Language (XML) is introduced.

Dec 97: Digital Equipment Corporation and SYSTRAN A.G. launch "AltaVista Babelfish Translation Service" []. It is the first online language translation service for Web content. The service enables real-time translation of documents in five European languages: French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish.

sometime in 1997: Beginning of digitisation of the "David Rumsey Collection" of maps of the World, Asia, Africa, the Americas, Europe, and Oceania. In early June 2003 the collection [] had 8,800 maps online.

sometime in 1997: The "California Digital Library (CDL)," a collaborative effort of the ten UC campuses is launched. The CDL [] is an additional 'co-library' of the UC campuses, with a focus on digital materials and services, including "Melvyl."

Apr 97: The first "Electronic Cultural Atlas Workgroup" meeting is organised by Lewis Lancaster at UC Berkeley. The group subsequently evolved into "Electronic Cultural Atlas Initiative (ECAI)" [], a loose constellation of scholars who meet twice a year to consider possible standardisation of their methodologies and GIS-based integration of results of their various research projects.

Oct 97: Jan Overvoll and Raivo Ruusalepp U. of Bergen, Norway launch "H-AHC" [ ~ahc] an H-Net scholarly mailing list. The H-AHC is a moderated internet discussion forum for the "Association for History and Computing" [now at ahc].

sometime in 1997: Christian Wittern of Chung-Hwa Institute, Taipei starts working on the "System for Markup and Retrieval of Texts (SMART)" which is used as a TEI-compliant tool for electronic markup of premodern Chinese texts [ ~wittern/ smart].

Feb 97: On the web there are more than 5,225,000 English language pages with information and comments about Asian countries.

Feb 97: Bangladesh Online [www. information] web site is established.

Mar 97: Lewis Lancaster heads the newly constituted "AAS Working Group on Electronic Resource Development". The group comprises: T. Matthew Ciolek, Australian National U., Frank Conlon, U. Washington, US Maureen Donovan, Ohio State U., US, Thomas Hahn, Heidelberg U., Germany, David Magier, Columbia U, US, Kent Mulliner, Ohio U., US, Carol Mitchell, U. Wisconsin, US.

Mar 97: Maureen Donovan and Mary Jackson launch "AAU/ ARL/ NCC Japan Journal Access Project" [ NCC/ jpnpjct.html].

Apr 97: Charles Muller of Toyo Gakuen U. publishes on the web "CJK- English Character Dictionary- Database" [now "CJKV-English Dictionary" at dealt/ index.html], a database of CJK characters and compounds related to East Asian Cultural, Political, and Intellectual History.

Apr 97: "Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA)" web site [ ASAA] is launched.

May 97: WAIS databases are being closed down on

May 97: William Lavely launches "China in Time and Space (CITAS)" project []. CITAS data sets include vectorized base maps of China, georeferenced socio-economic data, bibliographic resources and utilities for coding data of administrative units. The project was under development since 1994. Subsequently the CITAS data are re-used in 2001 by CHGIS (Harvard)

May 97: Josephine Khu commences writing the "Hong Kong Diary", a series of online documents about life in Hong Kong during the transition to mainland control. Issues #1 May 12, 1997 - #41 October 2, 1999 are now archived at RSC/ programs/ globcomm/ H-ASIA/ diary.html. The individual instalments were posted at the H-ASIA@ mailing list.

Jul 97: "Ahlul Bayt Digital Islamic Library Project (DILP)" [] is launched.

Jul 97: Jost Gippert of U. Frankfurt heads an informal association called "Scholars Engaged in Electronic Resources (SEER)" [ seer/ index.htm] is formed. The group was established during the ICANAS congress (International Congress on Asian and North African Studies) at Budapest with the aim of promoting and coordinating further efforts in the development and spreading of electronic resources of all kinds relating to Asia and adjacent areas.

Prior to September 1997: Robert Eng publishes "East and South East Asia: an annotated directory of Internet resources" [ Departments&Programs/ AsianStudiesDept/ index.html].

Sep 97: Preparatory work on "The Digital South Asia Library" project (DSAL) [now at] commences. The project gets launched on 1 Sep 2000.

Oct 97: "" web site [] is launched by The Asia Society as a portal to "provide information on everything About Asia" .

Oct 97: Alan Fisher of Michigan State U. launches "H-Islamart", history of Islamic Art and Architecture [ ~ islamart], an H-Net scholarly mailing list.

Nob 97: Sergio Paoli catalogues discussion groups and mailing lists of relevance to research on India and South Asian Studies. According to his document there were 27 unmoderated and 9 moderated Usenet newsgroups, and 30 email lists dealing with India.

Dec 97: Marilyn Levine of Lewis-Clark College launches "Chinese Biographical Database (CBD)" [ cbiouser]. In its initial format the database accepted online input from its readers. In Dec 2001 the database contained 3,500 biographical entries.

Dec 97: During the past 12 months "The Asian Studies WWW Monitor" announced details of 590 new or improved Asian Studies' online resources. For comparison, a year earlier the Monitor announced 632 resources.

sometime in 1997: ABIA - Annual Bibliography of Indian Archaeology [ host/ abia] is published by the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS) at Leiden, the Netherlands, as a WWW database.

sometime in 1997: The Chinese U. of Hong Kong establishes "China Research & Resource Centre" web site [ usc]. The site offers a Databank for China Studies, which aims to promote qualitative studies on China and datasharing in the academic community."

sometime in 1997: Maggie Exon, Christine Richardson and Ian Dawes of Curtin U. launch The "South Asia Resources Database" [now at Data/ saru/ sard.htm]. The database contains over 120,000 records listing resources , including books, serials, archive collections and ephemera about South Asia available in Australia and (in a separate file) over 150,000 records of South Asian materials not known to be held in Australia.

1998 The Internet spans 29.6 mln hosts.

1.8 mln Web servers.

Hotmail (launched in Jul 1996) has 22 mln users and is growing at a rate of 125,000 users a day.

Sep 98: the US Congress publishes the complete and intricate "Starr Report" on the Clinton-Lewinsky affair. This publication takes place online and is made ahead of its subsequent releases by means of newspapers, radio, television, and books. The Net had finally comes of age and officially becomes the fifth branch of mass communication.

Java source code is made freely accessible to the software community.

There are more than 13 mln mobile phones in use in Britain.

Apr 98: Google, a WWW intelligent search engine [], is developed at Stanford U., California. Mar 98: "Virtual Worlds In Archaeology Initiative (WVAI)" [ VWinAI/VWAI_goals.htm] is established at the Computer Applications in Archaeology Conference, Barcelona, Spain. The project establishes an online repository of digital constructs in order to facilitate the preservation, cataloguing, and active use of the 3D digital models, texture maps, and virtual ancient worlds.

sometime before Jun 98: A document "Paso-kon Toohoo-kenkyuu" (Personal Computer and Asian Humanity Studies) is published on the Japanese commercial BBS NiftyServe [].

Jul 98: "Virtual e-Text Archive of Indic Texts", a catalogue [ ~ucgadkw/ indology.html] of distributed online collections, is established.

sometime in early 1998: The Library of Congress publishes a massive collection of online Country Studies/ Area Handbooks [ frd/ cs/ cshome.html], including multidisciplinary studies of Asian countries.

Mar 98: Maureen Donovan starts publishing an experimental e-journal "The AsianDOC Electronic Newsletter" (Asian Database Online Community Electronic Newsletter) (ISSN 1098-9145) [] and the associated mailing list, ASIANDOC@ The project was discontinued upon the publication of Vol. 1 No.3 (October 1998).

Apr 98: James Lindsay launches "H-Mideast-Medieval" [ ~midmed], an H-Net scholarly mailing list. H-MidEast-Medieval specialises in the study of the Islamic lands of the Middle East during the medieval period (defined roughly as 500-1500 C.E.). The network is sponsored by Middle East Medievalists (MEM).

Apr 98: Orientalisches Institut, U. of Leipzig launches a tri-lingual (German, English, and Arabic) "Islamic Law (ISLAW) Catalogue" [now at islawindex.html]. The site collects from the Internet all available information about the Islamic Law and the Law of the Islamic States.

Apr 98: "Al-Qur'an was-Sunnah Society" publishes online a critique of Sufism entitled "Ilat-Tasawwuf Ya Ibbadallah" [], by ash-Shaikh Abu Bakr al-Djaza'iri of the Islamic U. in al-Madinah al-Munawwarah.

May 98: "Bibliography of Asian Studies (BAS) On Line", Association for Asian Studies, U. of Michigan, US is published online. In May 1998 this single most important record of research and scholarly literature on Asia written in Western languages had about 420,000 references; in Mar 2003 there were 520,000 references.

May 98: Susan Whitfield of the British Library launches the "International Dunhuang Project (IDP)" web site, now at [].

Jun 98: On the web there are more than 10,776,000 English language pages with information and comments about Asian countries (i.e. more than twice as much than in Feb 97).

Sep 98: Yone Sugita of Osaka U. of Foreign Studies launches "H-US-Japan" (US-Japan relations) [ ~usjp], an H-Net scholarly mailing list.

before Dec 1998: Rebecca Payne and David Plath launch a web site for the "Asian Educational Media Service (AEMS)" []. The site based at the U. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign helps educators find and use media materials (including documentary films, feature films, CD-ROMs, and slide units) for teaching about the cultures and peoples of Asia. In November 2001 the site had a database of a searchable database of over 3,500 videos.

Dec 98: During the past 12 months "The Asian Studies WWW Monitor" announced details of 584 new or improved Asian Studies' online resources. For comparison, a year earlier the Monitor announced 590 resources.

late 1998: "Japanese Journal Current Awareness Project" [ JJCAP/ search.html] is launched at the Ohio State U. by Maureen Donovan and the East Asian Libraries Cooperative WWW. The web-based service permits users to browse the contents of Japanese journals included in the Union List of Japanese Serials and Newspapers.

1999 The Internet spans 43.2 mln hosts.

Over 1,000 WWW search engines.

Over 39,000 IRC channels.

Over 135,000 Listserv lists.

4.3 mln Web servers.

America Online (AOL) passes the 14 mln subscriber mark.

Over 800 mln publicly accessible Web pages are indexed by the major search engines. They contain 6 terabytes of text after removing HTML tags, comments, and extra white space.

3 bln SMS (short text messages) sent over GSM networks during the month of December.

Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) for mobile Internet is introduced.

Oct 99: The first meeting of "The Open Archives Initiative (OAI)" []. The meeting is sponsored by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), the DLF, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, the Association of Research Libraries, and the Research Library of the Los Alamos National Laboratory. The OAI group focuses on the interoperation of "e-print archives" (collections of electronic journal articles and preprints), and on the metadata harvesting.

Nov 99: Nick Denton of Moreover Technologies [] launches the "Webfeed News Service". Unlike traditional news services that resell archived information, Moreover's sophisticated technology continually scours the Internet to capture breaking news and business information from more than 1,500 (in June 2003 5,500) qualified, handpicked sources. The news which is categorised into one of 200 thematic groups (including several ones on Asia) is updated every 15-30 minutes.

sometime in 1999: Jan Alexander and Marsha Ann Tate publish "Web Wisdom: How to Evaluate and Create Information Quality on the Web", Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1999.

Aug 99: "Humbul Humanities Hub" [], a subject guide to the Internet, and a part of the larger Resource Discovery Network (RDN) is launched at U. of Oxford. Humbul accepts input from a distributed community of expert reviewers. Jan 99: "India Hoje Online Newsletter" [originally at html/ uips/ cesa/india.html], the only online newsletter in Portuguese about India, is launched.

Apr 99: Paul H. Kratoska of the National U. of Singapore launches "H-SEASIA" [ ~seasia], an H-Net scholarly mailing list.

Apr 99: David Rosenberg of Middlebury College, VT establishes "South China Sea WWW Virtual Library" [ SouthChinaSea].

Oct 99: "Sino-Japanese Studies" web site [originally at depts/ hist/ faculty/ fogel/ sjs/ index.htm] is launched at History Department, UC Santa Barbara. The site complements operations of the the SINOJPN-L listserve (SINOJPN-L@ and the journal Sino-Japanese Studies. The paper publication of the journal commenced in 1988.

Dec 99: During the past 12 months "The Asian Studies WWW Monitor" announced details of 574 new or improved Asian Studies' online resources. For comparison, a year earlier the Monitor announced 584 resources.

sometime in 1999: "Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Asienkunde" (German Association for Asian Studies) [] launches its web site.

2000 The Internet spans 72.3 mln hosts.

9.9 mln Web servers.

Over 1 bln publicly accessible Web pages are indexed by

Estimated 407.1 mln online users worldwide.

15 bln SMS text messages sent over GSM networks during the month of December.

The total online population worldwide is estimated to be 407.1 M people (Africa 3.11 M, Asia-Pacific 104.88 M; Europe 113.14 M; Middle East 2.40 M; Canada & US 167.12 M; Latin America 16.45 M)

Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) is introduced.

Mar 00: The Internet Archive [] keeps on file 14 terabytes of archived copies of the WWW sites from the early 1996 onwards. For comparison, The Library of Congress, Washington, DC, contains 20 mln books, which - not counting pictures - are an equivalent of 20 terabytes of information.

Sep 00: "" (aka "the public's library and digital archive") is formed as a collaboration between the U. of North Carolina - Chapel Hill's MetaLab, formerly known as SunSITE, and the Center for the Public Domain. The project aims to: expand and improve the distribution of open source software and documentation; continue UNC's programs to develop an on-line library and archive; create, expand, improve, publish, and distribute research on the open source communities; serve as a model for other open source projects.

Sep 00: Google search engine enables users to conduct searches in Japanese, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese and Korean, in addition to the existing searches in Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish.

sometime in 2000: "Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names Online (TGN)" [ research/ tools/ vocabulary/ tgn/ index.html] is launched. The TGN is a structured vocabulary containing more than one million names, together with their geographic coordinates, variant names and other information about places. The TGN puts emphasis on places that are important for art and architecture. Jan 00: John Einar Sandvand launches "Asia Observer" [] to provide a start page for observers of news and developments in Asia.

Feb 00: Svante E. Cornell of The Johns Hopkins U. launches "Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst " [] to provide a rigorous, concise and non-partisan information issues and events in the Central Asia-Caucasus region.

Feb 00: Karl J. Schmidt of Missouri Southern State College, launches "Project South Asia (PSA)" [].

Mar 00: A meeting addressing creation of GIS for China's historical administrative geography, takes place at the Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan. The meeting is attended by Peter Bol of Harvard U. who had organised the event, Ge Jianxiong from Fudan in Shanghai, PRC, Fan I-Chun and Erin Yen from Academia Sinica, Taiwan and Lawrence Crissman, Griffith U, Australia.

Mar 00: David Germano and the U. of Virginia Library, Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities and Arts and Sciences at Virginia establish "The Tibetan and Himalayan Digital Library" [ and tibet/ index.html].

Sep 00: Donald Simpson of the Center for Research Libraries, James Nye and Rebecca Moore of the U. of Chicago and David Magier at Columbia U. launch "The Digital South Asia Library" (DSAL) []. The DSAL project (developed since Sep 1997), based at the U. of Chicago, provides online access to Reference Resources; Bibliographies and Union Lists; Images; Indexes of periodicals; Maps; Books and Journals; Statistical information from the colonial period through the present, and Other Internet Resources. DSAL is a global collaborative effort involving partners from the US, Europe, South Asia, Australia and from international organizations.

Sep 00: U. S. Embassy in Beijing launches "Beijing Environment, Science and Technology Update" e-journal [ sandt/ estnews-contents.html].

Oct 00: "Middle East Virtual Library (MENALIB)" [] is launched by the Martin-Luther-Universitaet Halle-Wittenberg, Germany. The bi-lingual site, in both German and English, offers a portal to Middle East and Islamic Studies information facilities. In Nov 2001 the site kept track of links and metadata of over 1,600 online resources.

Nov 00: "The Digital Asia Library/Portal to Asian Internet Resources" [], based at the U. of Wisconsin-Madison is placed online. The portal is a cooperative project of The Ohio State U. Libraries, the U. of Minnesota Libraries, and the U. of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries. It offers an extensive catalogue of resources selected, evaluated and annotated by subject area specialists and librarians. In January 2002 it catalogued over 3,000 records. In April 2003 the catalogue had over 5,300 records.

Dec 00: Alan Macfarlane and Mark Turin of U. of Cambridge, UK launch "Digital Himalaya Project" [].

Dec 00: Peter Bol establishes "China Historical Geographic Information System (CHGIS)" [ ~chgis/] project to develop 'a standardized coding system to identify historical administrative units for different periods in Chinese History.' The site is officially announced in Jan 2001.

Dec 00: Keith D. Watenpaugh of Le Moyne College launches "H-Levant" [ ~levant], an H-Net scholarly mailing list.

Dec 00: During the past 12 months "The Asian Studies WWW Monitor" announced details of 397 new or improved Asian Studies' online resources. For comparison, a year earlier the Monitor announced 574 resources.

2001 The Internet spans 109.5 mln hosts.

27.8 mln Web servers.

America Online (AOL) passes the 32 mln subscriber mark.

Over 1.6 bln publicly accessible Web pages are indexed by

Some 9.8 billion electronic messages are sent each day.

Jan 01: The Open Archives Initiative (OAI) releases version 1.0 of the "Open Archives Metadata Harvesting Protocol" (OAI-PMH) specifications.

Apr 01: The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation announces the formation of "ArtSTOR" [now at], an independent not-for-profit organization that will develop, "store," and distribute electronically digital images and related scholarly materials for the study of art, architecture, and other fields in the humanities.

Oct 01: Brewster Kahle, inventor of the WAIS servers, unveils his "The Wayback Machine" [at] to provide access to the WWW pages which were archived since 1996 by the Internet Archive.

Nov 01: Susan Whitfield and her team publish on the web a document "The International Dunhuang Project: Procedures and Standards for Digitisation and Image Management" [ chapters/ publications/ IDP_papers/ standards.html].

Dec 01: Google search engine has fully integrated the past 20 years of Usenet archives into Google Groups, which now offers access to more than 700 million messages dating back to May 1981. This is by far the most complete collection of Usenet articles ever assembled.

  Oct 01: David Arnott creates the "Online Burma/Myanmar Library" [] with annotated and classified links to thousands of full-text documents on Burma/Myanmar.

Dec 01: During the past 12 months "The Asian Studies WWW Monitor" announced details of 419 new or improved Asian Studies' online resources. For comparison, a year earlier the Monitor announced 397 resources.

2002 The Internet spans 147.3 mln hosts.

36.6 mln Web servers.

Over 222,000 Listserv lists.

Over 100,000 e-mail newsletters.

Over 350,000 Usenet groups.

Over 2.4 bln publicly accessible Web pages are indexed by

Jun 02: OAIster [] a project of the U. of Michigan Digital Library Production Services is launched. In early June 2003 it delivered 1,246,953 records from 185 institutions.

Jun 02: The Open Archives Initiative (OAI) releases version 2.0 of the "Open Archives Metadata Harvesting Protocol" (OAI-PMH) specifications.

sometime in 2002: "Portal", the British Academy's annotated directory [ portal] of online resources in the humanities and social sciences is launched. It is designed as an entry point to substantial, long-term and free-access resources for those working in higher education and research. Feb 02: Diane Kovacs' 2002 edition of "The Directory of Scholarly and Professional E-Conferences" [ directory] catalogues 280 mailing lists and discussion groups dealing with/ relevant to the topic of "Asian Studies".

Jun 02: Google lists over 1,480,000 English language pages dealing with "Asian Studies".

Sep 02: "Asian Law Online", the first online bibliographic database of Asian law materials in the world [ alc/ bibliography] is launched.

Nov 02: The National Library of China launches the Chinese version [] of the Susan Whitfield's "International Dunhuang Project (IDP)" web site [].

Dec 02: During the past 12 months "The Asian Studies WWW Monitor" announced details of 402 new or improved Asian Studies' online resources. For comparison, a year earlier the Monitor announced 419 resources.

2003 The Internet spans 171.6 mln hosts.

35,543,000 web servers.

Over 3 bln publicly accessible Web pages are indexed by

Apr 03: Colin Webb of the National Library of Australia and UNESCO publish online "Guidelines for the Preservation of Digital Heritage" (Webb 2003).

Apr 03: In an effort to participate and exchange information with other digital libraries and research groups, the "Internet Archive" [], has implemented the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH).

sometime in 2003: David J. Staley publishes "Computers, Visualization, and History: How New Technology Will Transform Our Understanding of the Past", Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe. Jan 03: George Miller of the Australian National U. launches the "Meta-Guide to Indonesia: Annotated Bibliography of post-1990 Bibliographies on Indonesia" [ WWWVLPages/ IndonPages/ Meta-Bibliography.html].

May 03: Robert Eng of U. Redlands launches "The SARS Epidemic" web site [ Departments&Programs/ AsianStudiesDept/ sars.html], an annotated list of SARS-related resources, dealing with the affected Asian regions including China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, and Vietnam.

Jun 03: An online news agency, "News Central Asia (nCa)" [], has been launched from Central Asia.

Jun 03: On the web there are more than 94,040,700 English language pages with information and comments about Asian countries (i.e. more than nine times as much than in Jun 1998).

Jun 03: Google lists over 2,220,000 English language pages dealing with "Asian studies."

Jun 03: A catalogue of "Asian & Pacific Studies Electronic Journals" [ WWWVLPages/ AsiaPages/ AsianE-Journals.html ] lists 230 e-journals.

Jun 03: A document "Asian Studies Online Bookshops - A Register" [ WWWVLPages/ AsiaPages/ VLBookshops.html] lists 163 online booksellers.

5. The analysis of the data and conclusions

The five columns of Table 1 are a great improvement over the original Timeline listed in Ciolek (2003). The categorised and contextualised data now have an opportunity to speak with a stronger and clearer voice. Essentially, their message is three-fold. Firstly, Asian Studies are a part of an ongoing and massive informational explosion. Secondly, this explosion is not limited to Asian Studies alone. To the contrary, it is an integral part of a larger process which involves many other disciplines among humanities and social sciences. Thirdly, this informational explosion might be awesome or intimidating, yet it shows a definite inner logic and patterning.

(a) The informational explosion

The changes to the IT industry, as well as changes to the volume, richness and complexity of the networked information are truly staggering. Researchers and commentators world-wide continue to regard these transformations to be "massive", "revolutionary", "unprecedented", "exponentially growing" and "explosive." Such epithets are justified and apt.

About 20 years ago, in 1983, a fledgling network linked together some 560 mainframe machines. By contrast, in January 2003 the Internet has spanned no less than 171.6 million machines. In other words, we now live in a world which is over 30,000 times more strongly infused with networked hardware than was the case 20 years ago.

A similarly huge explosion can be seen also in the field of Asian Studies. Initially, the electronic involvements of the discipline were shy and modest. According to the assembled evidence, they have started on 30th January 1985, at Purdue University, with the launch of an unmoderated Usenet newsgroup called "net.nlang.india". This launch took place in the early phase of the Usenet, a technology which was invented just four years earlier. Most probably, at the time the "net.nlang.india" was established there were no more than 100-120 Usenet newsgroups worldwide. For reasons which today are already unknown, the pioneering "net.nlang.india" did not function very well. Eventually, in September 1986 its operations were superseded by a freshly established unmoderated Usenet group called "soc.culture.indian".

As computer networks increased their reach and capacity, they also kept attracting hundreds and thousands of fresh online users. These people were always hungry for new and useful electronic information, and as such materials were not readily available online, they would be created and made available for others to use and admire. In addition, the first generation of the users of the Net was also keen to experiment with the available apparata and software. As a consequence, the steady creation of new communication tools and online information facilities kept fuelling the demand for even more computers to be spanned by the Net, and for more people to join in and to start sharing online their own news, as well as data files and analyses. In other words, a large-scale chain reaction involving people, data and computers has been unleashed.

As the result, in June 2003 (a mere 18.5 years since the "net.nlang.india" group was formed) the Web-based cyberspace has grown to more than 94,040,700 English language pages with information and comments about Asian countries. At the same time the famous Google search engine has been aware of the existence of over 2,220,000 English language pages with the expression "Asian studies." Moreover, at least a similar amount of online information on Asia and Asian Studies has been generated in other languages, both European and Asian ones, and placed on the Net. At the same time, in June 2003, the Asian Studies WWW Virtual Library's catalogue of "Asian & Pacific Studies Electronic Journals" has listed no less than 230 specialist online periodicals. Simultaneously, the Asian Studies WWW Virtual Library's catalogue entitled "Asian Studies Online Bookshops - A Register" offered its readers a direct access to more than 163 specialist online booksellers together with their databases, their shopping baskets and their online payment systems.

In short, when discussing the progress that Asian Studies have made in the use of computers and of the Net, the choice of expressions such as "an explosion", "endless positive feedback", "massive transformation" is not unreasonable.

(b) Electronic transformations of Asian Studies and their context

The earliest information on social sciences and humanities involvements with computers, and later with the Net, can be traced to 1971 when Winfred P. Lehmann and his colleagues at the University of Texas, Austin, commenced experiments on digitisation and computer storage of the ancient text of "Rig Veda." It is also in 1971 that Michael Hart of the Materials Research Lab at the University of Illinois conceived the revolutionary idea of an electronic archive of complete texts of major literary works. He proposed that those texts should be installed online for free and unfettered private (i.e. non-commercial) access and downloading by anyone in the world. In addition to launching the "Gutenberg Project" Hart had another two equally original and valuable ideas. Firstly, he would be ready to invite volunteers world-wide to type as many as possible copyright-free books into their computers, in a generic, plain ASCII format and then have them send him the resultant files. Secondly, he would invite volunteers to proof-read and tidy-up such voluntarily inputted texts.

These pioneering initiatives have found a profound resonance with other people, especially since the establishment in 1973 of the "Association for Literary and Linguistic Computing." They were also reinforced by other concrete projects. For example, in 1976 Lou Burnard of University of Oxford initiated the "Oxford Text Archive" (OTA). Under Burnard's leadership the OTA became famous for its work on digitisation of linguistic corpora. Also, in 1977 a team from the Department of Classics, Princeton University, embarked experimental work on computer-aided analyses alphabetisation programs for Tibetan language.

Interestingly, despite all those provocative examples, the first of the Asian Studies' electronic texts appeared online only in 1990, that is the year when "The CIA World Factbook" with some 2Mb of documents and country-by-country statistics was published in the FTP archive of the Gutenberg Project. A year later, sometime in 1991, Ulysses Li has established a compendium of China-related documents, all of them gleaned from various online resources, and published (but how, we do not know. Was it a gopher, or an FTP system?) under the collective name "Internet Chinese Text Archive."

All this would strongly suggest that Asian Studies followed a very different trajectory from that of the rest of social sciences and humanities.

As I noted earlier, the electronic beginnings of Asian Studies date from January 1985, when a Usenet newsgroup called "net.nlang.india" was launched. The group hoped to provide a public online forum for unmoderated discussions of such topics as: "(1) travel to and from india (fares etc.); (2) new students coming to a certain university; (3) indian [sic - tmc] restaurants in various parts of this country; (4) latest news [political and sports] from india; (5) movie reviews etc.; (6) anything else that is considered interesting to an audience that is potentially Indian."

Other Usenet newsgroups groups, with comparably low-key agendas, followed. "Soc.culture.indian" was established in September 1996. A year later, and certainly no later than November 1987, two additional Usenet gatherings with the focus on Asia, namely "soc.culture.japan" and "soc.culture.china", have joined the expanding Usenet scene. Eventually, by the year 1990 there were at least 1,300 different Usenet groups, many tens of them bearing either directly or tangentially on the topic of Asia.

However, by that year other technologies, such as Bitnet and Internet mailing lists, also started being put to an intensive use by the Asianists. In fact, the 1987 "soc.culture.japan" Usenet group was established so that it would re-post across the Usenet the verbatim proceedings of an eponymous Bitnet mailing list started sometime earlier at the MIT. There was also Wilson Ho, a student at the UC, Davis, who in April 1989 launched "HKnet" at his university. The purpose of that list was to distribute via email the daily news and announcements from Hong Kong and China.

Related, but more scholarly and more disciplined, developments were also afoot. Sometime prior to February 1990 an Indian Interest Group, "India-L" was launched at the Princeton University. In November1990 Dominik Wujastyk of the University of Liverpool created a specialist communication tool, the "Indology" mailing list. The list proved to be a great success and by March 1994 it had about 250 subscribers. In October 1991 Paul H. Kratoska of the National University of Singapore established the "SEANET-L", the first among the many Southeast Asian studies lists. By April 1993 the list provided expert information to 444 users in 20 countries.

In November 1991 the SAWNET (South Asian Women's NETwork) mailing list was launched. The SAWNET operated from Ohio State University, and was intended as a medium of communication by and for South Asian women. By April 2002 the list was reaching about 700 women on four continents.

Barely three months after the creation of SAWNET, in January 1992, Elliot Parker of Central Michigan University established another EastAsian studies list, the "SEASIA-L". That list was also published as a Usenet discussion group "bit.listserv.seasia-l". In just over one year, in April 1993, the "SEASIA-L" was used by more than 700 users in 21 countries. Ten years later, in June 2003, the list had more than 1,760 subscribers.

The year 1992 proved to be a fertile year. In February 1992 T. Mathew Ciolek of the Australian National University published in the "Coombspapers" FTP archive a lengthy ASCII (i.e. plain text) file with a bibliography taken (with the author's blessings) from Geoffrey Samuel's forthcoming book, "Civilized Shamans: Buddhism in Tibetan Societies" (see Samuel 1993). It was perhaps the first ever online publication of Asian Studies bibliography. Importantly, it was a start to a host of other activities. For the next few years Ciolek and his ANU Coombs Computing colleagues built a series of public access FTP archive collections, more than 100 WAIS databases, a Gopher with access to Asia-Pacific materials and several specialist mailing lists. These four technologies - FTP, WAIS, Gopher and mailing lists - were their preferred electronic tools. In a way, it was a strange situation, because despite their early exposure to the WWW (see Ciolek 1998a) the ANU team seemed to be oblivious, until early January 1994 at least, to the awesome potential of the WWW technology. They seemed to undervalue hypertext opportunities offered by the WWW's simple and unified URL (addressing) syntax, its powerful markup tags for structuring and displaying complex documents, and the advantages of the Web's powerful HTTP (communications) protocol in the context of the client/server model.

However, not all people on the Net seemed to be so blind to the technologies of the future. For example, in 1992, Oliver Wild, a physicist working on the atmosphere and climate modelling, constructed his "The Silk Road" web site. To the best of my knowledge this electronic publication represents the first known collection of Web pages with an exclusive Asian Studies' focus. Soon, after that many tens of other WWW sites could be seen to emulate Wild's experiment in online publishing.

In summary, it is clear that Asian Studies were not the first among social sciences and humanities to embrace the Net as a medium for research, publication and communication.

As we can see from Table 1 it was the linguists, philologists and archaeologists who led the way for the rest of us. They started their romance with the new medium surprisingly quickly. Moreover, they have done so with flair. They worked first on digitisation of data and texts, next on their computer-aided analyses, and finally on creation of several online repositories of data-sets and electronic analytical tools. These texts and tools were created by individuals and teams, but they were meant to be freely copied and used by all interested researchers.

By contrast, researchers of Asian cultures and societies were slow to get involved in the high-tech activities. Despite the fact that most of the North American and European universities had relatively widespread and easy access to the computers and to the Net, and despite the formation in 1978 of the "Association for Computers in the Humanities" (an organisation open to any interested and competent scholar), the Asian Studies online involvement starts only in the mid-1980s. Moreover, when students of Asia finally did arrived on the scene, they were chiefly interested in the communicational potential of the new medium, and less in computerised research and online publishing.

As the dates of establishment of various Asian Studies' groups and initiatives testify (e.g. the "Electronic Cultural Atlas Initiative (ECAI)" [est. Mar 1997]; "AAS Working Group on Electronic Resource Development" [est. Mar 1997]; "Scholars Engaged in Electronic Resources (SEER)" [est. Jul 1997], and "The AsianDOC Electronic Newsletter" [published Mar-Oct 1998]) such professional associations, working groups and /or institutional consortia were established much later than were their counterparts in other branches of social sciences and humanities. Furthermore, unlike their counterparts, they did not produce any concrete electronic results.

In the light of the available evidence one wonders if it is as if researchers in the area of Asian Studies did not have (or were unable to identify) their own, discipline-specific electronic and networked problems. It would seem that they were happy to use paradigms and procedures worked out sometime earlier by archaeologists, linguists, sociologists, historians, philologists and Asian Studies librarians.

(c) The stages in development of electronic and networked Asian Studies

A recent survey of the religious and metaphysical uses of the Net (Ciolek, 2004) has concluded that:

"Networked religions in all parts of the world seem to follow a basic, four-part developmental sequence which parallels the technological milestones of the Internet itself as well as the skills acquired by members of religious communities."

A critical look at the last three decades of the scholarly Net indicates that this is also true of the developments in networked humanities and social sciences. There too one can discern the four consecutive stages: Phase A - Computerised information, Phase B - Networked interchanges; Phase C - Networked documents. Phase D - Seamless uses. These four steps are common to all users of the Net. The substantial differences emerge only in terms of of whether the "Networked interchanges" are engaged in prior to the serious work with the "Networked documents" (as is the case with Asian Studies), or in parallel with that stage (as is the case of Linguistics, Philology, and Archaeology). There are also other differences which are related to how long it takes a person, a team, an institution, or a profession to move from one phase to the other, and what monetary and social costs are incurred in this process of innovation and change.

Table 2: The developmental stages of electronic and networked Asian Studies

  • stand alone computers with databases and word-processors.
  • networked computers worldwide:
  • long distance networked communications (e.g. email, BBS, Usenet).
  • networked computers worldwide:
    2 hosts -10,000 hosts.
  • global constellation of text (FTP) and hypertext (Gopher, WWW) documents.
  • networked computers worldwide:
    10,000 hosts -100 million hosts.
  • seamless integration of hypertext, databases, images, maps with communications and customised, on-the-fly data transformations.
  • networked computers worldwide:
    over 100 million hosts.
  • Computer as a super-calculator and a typewriter with memory.
  • Net as a virtual community of builders and explorers of cyberspace.
  • Net as a vast electronic library.
  • Net as a bazaar of information and services.
  • creation of files with data and commentaries.
  • computer analyses and transformations of data files.
  • creation of detailed help and how-to files.
  • frequent, one-to-one and one-to-many exchanges. These messages may be traceable to a specific individual or dispatched anonymously, under the cover of a pen-name or electronic "persona".
  • intellectual contacts among distant scholars flourish online.
  • files with FAQs for major topics are established and recommended to new online colleagues.
  • first repositories of electronic documents (accessible via FTP or listservs) are created.
  • translation of fresh paper resources into online formats.
  • proliferation of online directories and guides to the emerging Asian Studies cyberspace.
  • explosion in the volume of online corporate information.
  • gradual translation of many of the legacy (Telnet, FTP, WAIS, Gopher, proprietary databases) electronic and Net resources into the WWW format.
  • problems of fonts and online representation of world-languages become solved.
  • all-purpose search engines become intelligent enough to be used for advanced specialist information foraging.
  • full-text indexing of web documents becomes a norm.
  • creation of specialist multimedia resources focused on a single topic.
  • 3D digital models, interactive maps, and Geographic Information Systems start being used.
  • creation of one-stop, all purpose information portals.
  • information starts being released in several major languages at once.
  • online information and expertise slowly develop a price-tag, as they start being bought, sold and auctioned online.
  • inadequacies of computer memory, low processing speeds, insufficient storage space for the files.
  • the dire lack of fonts for representation of non-Latin scripts.
  • the lack of specialist software.
  • available software is not user-friendly.
  • graphic information is schematic and chunky, has low resolution, and suffers from the lack of standards for file formats.
  • low and v. low interoperability of various computers.
  • isolation among scholars causes repetition of blunders and duplication of successful solutions.
  • virtual communities and groups of like-minded people start to coalesce.
  • the never-ending influx of inexperienced users.
  • the dire lack of netiquette.
  • the growth of malicious spamming and flaming creates the need for moderated channels of communication.
  • the informational explosion steadily erodes users' ability to discover, evaluate, catalogue, and retrieve all relevant online materials.
  • the ever burgeoning technology leads scholars to be concerned about the growing lag in their IT skills and resources.
  • scholars start commenting on the increased workload (there are additional tasks which they need to master and perform on daily basis) and stress.
  • large chunks of online information are not amenable to automatic indexing of their content.
  • the lack common standards regarding worthwhile online content.
  • the lack of common standards regarding usability of online resources.
  • problems caused by spamming are compounded by malicious spread of viruses.
  • countless documents continue to remain invisible to automatic discovery and indexing by search engines.
  • ongoing spamming and the ever-present danger of email-born viruses turns the access to email into a liability.
  • mailing lists are increasingly populated by silent and passive "lurkers."
  • mailing lists gradually turn into impersonal fora for quick Q&A exchanges.
  • phones, faxes, paper mail and exchange of computer disks.
  • BBS, Usenet discussion groups, mailing lists, personal email.
  • factual discussions on specialist and moderated mailing lists.
  • personal email.
  • personal email (as opposed to public channels of networked communication) starts being preferred for acquisition and distribution of latest research information.
  • the target audience is one's immediate circle of colleagues and friends.
  • tools of communication are used for work purposes.
  • information is created by independently operating individuals and their loose coalitions.
  • volunteer moderators bring direction and decorum to the mailing lists.
  • volunteer publishers of e-information emerge.
  • tools of communication start being used for social purposes.
  • online activities are directed to an anonymous, amorphous, global, and borderless audience.
  • information resources are developed by small collaborative groups.
  • massive, the planet-wide cyberspace operates on a 24/7/365 basis.
  • online activities are aimed at the global audience of like-minded specialists.
  • moderated scholarly lists act as online communities of experts.
  • information resources are developed by small professional groups.
  • Internet officially becomes accepted as the sixth branch of mass communication.
  • online activities court attention of specific target audiences (e.g. youth only, or individual life-style or language groups) from the larger pool of online users world-wide.
  • the overall volume and frequency of volunteer online work dramatically decrease.
  • online users treat the cyberspace like a giant TV broadcast: they take from it without contributing in return anything of substance.
  • large academic and commercial organisations start underwriting costly, complex, and long-term online projects.
  • Naturally, Table 2 summarises the past developments. It is obvious that with the arrival of additional technologies, and with further changes to the Asian Studies' cyberspace, it will be possible to delineate additional phases. It is already apparent that the world is gradually moving towards a very fast Internet which is ubiquitous, and which can be plugged in, at a very short notice, by people on the move. It is inevitable that, sooner or later, these brand new technical transformations will have to be dealt with, and put to everyday use within the rigorous context of scholarly work.

    (d) The social organisation of electronic and networked Asian Studies

    Among the temporal patterns, one can also trace the gradual development of distinct social roles played by the creators and users of the Asian Studies cyberspace.

    In the days of stand-alone computers, and later in the days of the incipient networking, those who created new electronic/online information have done it primarily for themselves and for a narrow circle of like-minded colleagues. The converse is also true. Those who were the readers/users/consumers of the electronic information were also the same people who were responsible for the development of the content, or of the electronic shell for its delivery.

    However, with the growth in the number of interconnected hosts, and with the growth of the population of Internauts, the roles of the online author and of the online reader became drastically redefined. The role of a user got simplified and de-coupled from that of an author. Those who created online content and services continued to be their users, but the reverse was no longer true. Simultaneously, another pattern started emerging: there was an increase in the number and complexity of the roles of authors of online information.

    For example, among the many tens and hundreds of people who over the last 30 years have enlarged and shaped the Asian Studies' cyberspace we are able to distinguish the following mantles:

    1. The Innovator - one whose practical actions have changed either the structure, or the uses of the scholarly cyberspace. To this category belong those who

      (i) commenced text digitisation projects (e.g. Winfred P. Lehmann, H. S. Ananthanarayana and Susan Chapman who in 1971 worked on the computerisation texts of Rig Veda.);

      (ii) promoted an idea of the double text input to protect corpora from random typing errors (e.g. Robert Taylor, Michael Roach and John Malpas who in 1990 worked on Asian [Tibetan] Classics Input Project.);

      (iii) created repositories of analyses and research papers (e.g. the unknown people who in 1990 placed online the files of "The CIA World Factbook");

      (iv) argued for creation of a constellation of distributed and interlocking (as opposed to centralised and monolithic) catalogues of online information (e.g. Lynn Nelson who in 1993 established at the University of Kansas "History WWW Virtual Library" in very close collaboration with, but independently from the day-to-day activities of, Tim Berner-Lee's "WWW Virtual Library" project at CERN, Geneva);

      (v) promoted the notion that scholarly resources could be systematically evaluated and ranked in terms of their usefulness to research (e.g. T. Matthew Ciolek who in 1994 established "Asian Studies WWW Monitor" e-journal.);

      (vi) decided that scattered information could be integrated in the form of a complete computerised knowledge system (e.g. Robert M. Hartwell who in 1991 worked on a database of career and kinship networks of 25,000 Song dynasty officials; Ulysses Li who in 1991 foraged the Internet to bring all China-related electronic information into a single online place.);

      (vii) proposed systematic digitisation and electronic publication of images (as opposed to texts) (e.g. John C. Huntington who in 1993 developed a "Buddhist Iconography Database");

      (viii) established scholarly electronic journals (e.g. Charles Prebish and Damien Keown who in 1994 launched "Journal of Buddhist Ethics" [ISSN 1076-9005], Jim Shimabukuro who in 1994 created the "Asia-Pacific EXchange [Electronic] Journal" [ISSN 1077-114X]; Michael Witzel and Enrica Garzilli who in 1995 have launched the "Electronic Journal of Vedic Studies [ISSN 1084-7561].);

      (ix) developed online databases capable of taking input directly from the online users (e. g. David Magier of Columbia U. who in 1994 built the "International Directory of South Asia Scholars [IDSAS]," and Marilyn Levine of Lewis-Clark College who in 1997 constructed "Chinese Biographical Database".);

      (x) promoted in idea of parallel multilingual editions of the same information resource (e. g. the librarians at the Orientalisches Institut, U. of Leipzig who in 1998 constructed a tri-lingual [in German, English, and Arabic] "Islamic Law [ISLAW] Catalogue"; or Susan Whitfield of the British Library who in 2002 launched the Chinese edition of the English language materials from her "International Dunhuang Project");

      (xi) built one-stop information-shops where a wide range of related information resources on a variety of topics could be accessed through a wide range of electronic access tools (e.g. the unknown creators of "The Pakistan News Service" which in 1991 was distributed daily via listserv mailing list, ftp sites, gopher, newsgroups (and later world-wide web sites) to readers in over fifty countries; Thomas Zielke of U. of Oldenburg, Germany, who in 1992 outlined his vision for the world-wide "History Network". This computerised network was to involve a great constellation of scholars. Zielke proposed that they could profitably interact with each other via e-mail, FTP and Telnet and that such regular computer-mediated contact could not fail to

      ".... help create and technically support specialized history lists, provide FTP and Gopher sites for documents to be stored by historians and accessed by other historians from anywhere in the world, and provide a much faster means of exchange between history scholars of ideas, information, and places to look for deeper documentation on a specific subject." (Zielke 1993).

      From the very outset this Network meant to be open to fresh ideas, tools and methodologies. To this end Zielke envisioned close cooperation with such online flagships as the Gutenberg Project and the Humanities Computing group at UC-Santa Barbara, and with cutting-edge scholarly bodies such as the Canadian Historian's Association. Finally, he hoped that with the steady growth of the computerised network of scholars

      "eventually there will be a number of sites where papers, bibliographies, lectures, maps, and graphics will be stored, accessible to the ever-widening number of people with net access." (Zielke 1993).

    2. The Communicator - one who creates an electronic tool (e.g. newsgroup, a bulletin board, or mailing list) for scholars to keep in touch with each other, to exchange information in a thoughtful and noise-free environment, and have such exchanges archived for subsequent online consultations. (e.g. Steven Leibo of the Sage Colleges & Suny-Albany and Frank F. Conlon of the U. of Washington, Seattle, who in 1994 created the "H-Asia" list);

    3. The Cataloguer - one who builds an annotated online directory/guide to a given range of electronic and networked resources (e.g. Basil Hashem's "Islamic Computing Resource Guide" (1992), David Bedell's registers of email lists dealing with Asian and the Pacific Studies [1993]; John McRae's gopher site dedicated to issues of CJK computing [1993]; Anthony and Rebecca Bichel's "Interactive Central Asia Resource Project" [1993]; David Magier's "South Asian Studies Gopher" [1994]; T. Matthew Ciolek's "Asian Studies WWW Virtual Library" [1994]; Wataru Ebihara's "Internet Guide For Asian American Cybernauts", and Hanno Lecher's "Internet Guide for China Studies" [1995]);

    4. The Facilitator - one of those rare people who through their prestige, contacts, or knowledge of suitable sources of funding, intentionally help other researchers to develop their own worthwhile online projects (e.g. Richard Jensen of U. of Illinois-Chicago who in 1992 prepared foundations for "H-Net" family of mailing lists; Lewis Lancaster of UC Berkeley who in 1993 was instrumental in launching and developing the highly successful "EBTI - Electronic Buddhist Text Initiative", and who in 1997 initiated activities of the "Electronic Cultural Atlas Initiative [ECAI]");

    5. The Architects - usually pairs of specialists who agree to combine their initially separate expertise in one of the fields of Asian Studies, and their superb skills in Information Technology. Such cross-disciplinary teams are thus able to create swiftly and seemingly effortlessly major online resources (e.g. T. Matthew Ciolek & Sean Batt who in 1993 and 1994 constructed over 100 WAIS databases with social sciences and Asian Studies materials; John Huntington & Janice Glowski who since 1995 worked on "The Huntington Photographic Archive of Buddhist and Related Art"; Enrica Garzilli & Ludovico Magnocavallo who since 1995 published the "Electronic Journal of Vedic Studies", the "International Journal of Tantric Studies" and related online projects; Susan Whitfield & Colin Chinnery who between 1998 and 2002 constructed and enhanced the "International Dunhuang Project"; Peter Bol & Merrick Lex Berman who since 2000 worked on the "China Historical Geographic Information System");

    6. The Bibliographer - one who constructs online meta-data services for Asian Studies (e.g. Maureen Donovan of the Ohio State U., Maggie Exon, Christine Richardson and Ian Dawes of Curtin U., Andrew Gosling of the Australian National Library, Thomas Hahn of Heidelberg U., Matthias Kaun of Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Raymond Lum of Harvard U., Suzanne McMahon of UC Berkeley, George Miller and Susan Prentice of the Australian National U., Rebecca Moore of U.Chicago, Rebecca Payne of U. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, as well as the staff of the International Institute for Asian Studies [IIAS] at Leiden [i.e. the ABIA- Annual Bibliography of Indian Archaeology project]; of The Association for Asian Studies [Bibliography of Asian Studies (BAS) On Line project]; and the staff of the Department of Law, Melbourne U. [Asian Law Online project]);

    7. The Scout - a person who from time to time and outside the usual range of duties, notifies other online colleagues on rare and difficult-to-find resources (e.g. contributions of Oliver Mann of the National Library of Australia regarding the latest electronic developments in Indonesia, or those of Joanna Kirkpatrick of Bennington College, VT, regarding similar developments in South Asia).

    8. The Super-ego - one who, like the Freudian namesake, takes upon himself the risky and thankless task of pointing out to his online colleagues their e-publishing blunders (e.g. since late 1996 comments of T. Matthew Ciolek in the "Asian Studies WWW Monitor"), or analytical shortcomings and failures (e.g. since 2002 comments of Martin Kramer in the "Sandstorm").

    9. The Analyst - one who attempts to describe the gist and most likely trajectory of the scholarly cyberspace (e.g. papers by Barlow 1999; Ciolek 1998a, Ciolek 1998b; Muller 1999, Muller 2002);

    10. The Standard Makers - those whose work infuses the prevailing chaos and confusion with a modicum of order, or who install successful methodology in the place of blind trials and errors (e.g. Christian Wittern, currently of Kyoto U., and his work on a suite of research tools for dealing with Chinese text using XML markup as recommended by the TEI-Consortium; Merrick Lex Berman of Harvard U. and his work on historical geographic information systems; Janice Glowski of the Ohio State U. and her work on methodology of digitisation and online publication of iconography; Susan Whitfield of the British Library and her work on standards for digitisation of ancient manuscripts and construction of a comprehensive specialist knowledge system about the treasures from Dunhuang caves; and finally, Frank Conlon of Washington U., Seattle, who over the last nine and half years has been providing the most endearing example of how one should manage a scholarly mailing list [such as the "H-Asia"] and how subscribers to such a list should relate to each other in an efficient and yet courteous and illuminating manner.).

    There are about ten or so such roles, yet the list of individuals who have performed them over the last three decades would be approximately 1,000 names strong. We all are deeply indebted to all those online authors, regardless of whether their names have been alluded to in this paper or not. We are grateful to them for their vision, for their long years of work, and for their personal example and leadership. It is obvious that the first three decades of the history of online social sciences and humanities are definitely a history of individual initiatives and of the work of small, face-to-face teams. It is also obvious that without all those remarkable people the rich and amazing electronic universe of today's Asian Studies would not have come into existence at all.

    6. References

    7. Acknowledgements

    I am grateful to Ms Penelope Ramsay and Mr Conrad Goltz for their energetic and critical comments on the first draft of this paper.

    8. Version and Change History

    9. About the Author

    Dr T. Matthew Ciolek, an archaeologist and anthropologist, heads the Internet Publications Bureau, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies (RSPAS), The National Institute for Asia and the Pacific, The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia. Since December 1991 he has been responsible for making the RSPAS' research materials and expertise available to the Internet community via a range of online technologies. He is a pioneer in networked research and communication related to the Asia-Pacific region, and creator and editor of an electronic journal "Asian Studies WWW Monitor" [Est. Apr 1994] ( and numerous subject guides to the Internet, including the influential Asian Studies WWW Virtual Library [Est. Mar 1994] (

    Site Meter
    visitors to since 08 May 1997.

    Maintainer: Dr T. Matthew Ciolek (

    Copyright (c) 2003 by T. Matthew Ciolek. All rights reserved.