This project analyzed the social, thematic, spatial, and temporal dimensions of information exchange in imperial China through the quantitative and qualitative analysis of Song Dynasty (960–1279) notebooks (biji). Through a systematic encoding of references to oral and written sources of information in biji, Hilde de Weerdt proposed to visualize and map citation patterns and information networks, in the first instance in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries when biji were first published and printed in large numbers. Mapping information networks in this way allows us to gain insight into the formation, development, and dissolution of the social and textual networks that shape and maintain normative frameworks.
The project combined more traditional historical and philological research methods with the use of prosopographical databases, historical geographic information systems, social network analysis, and text analysis tools. As shown in the image here we can thus map the information network of individual notebook writers as well as the geographical distribution of their contacts. By searching for ways in which to mine information in classical Chinese texts the larger project also aimed to contribute towards the development of the Chinese digital humanities.