Kim H. Veltman
Using A System for Universal Media Searching (SUMS)
Originally lecture at: Writing conferences, European Association for research on
learning and instruction. Special interest group writing and 7th European conference on
writing and computers, Utrecht, October 19-21, 21, 1994, Abstracts, Utrecht, p. 181.
Published in: Writers at work: professional writing in the computerized environment, ed.
Thea van der Geest, Mike Sharples, Heidelberg: Springer Verlag, 1996, pp. 207-215.
2. Knowledge Packages
7. Other Collaborative Tools
The software grew out of two research projects in the field of art history that began in
1975: a standard bibliography on perspective involving 180 libraries around the world,
and designing a model for what will likely become the first complete works of Leonardo
da Vinci in electronic form. Both projects entail problems of multi-dimensional access
and thus came from a user-oriented viewpoint. The computer work is being done by an
excellent team of assistants. Initial materials were entered into DBaseIII (1986),
integrated with Toolbook (1991) and are now being translated into a C++ version. The
present prototype operates in a Windows environment (PC 486) and comprises
approximately 500 megabytes. Versions for the Macintosh and Unix environments are
planned. As the projects evolved it became clear that the methods for searching subjects
as complex as perspective and Leonardo could be applied to other domains, indeed
universally. Hence a System for Universal Media Searching (SUMS) emerged.
The SUMS system is being designed as the equivalent of an electronic bucket or
container into which new materials can be entered, with a built-in set of search strategies.
In the short term it will be used by students and scholars in gathering materials on a given
topic to create knowledge packages, which will be extended to become an authoring
package for the production of CD-ROM’s. In the longer term these authoring capacities
will be integrated with the Internet such that one can add titles and gain access to other
media at a distance. The C++ version will include a client-server technology, and
effectively enable the SUMS software to become a front-end for the emerging
“information highway”. This has fundamental implications both for conceptual
navigation and for applications of editing tools, both with respect to texts and graphics.
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