Kim H. Veltman

SUMMA: A System for Universal Multi Media Access


Chapter Pages

1. A Proposal Concerning the Reorganization of Knowledge 3
2. Reality, Knowledge and Excellence 21
3. The Concept of Knowledge Packages 39
4. Electronic Media and Levels of Interpretation 51
5. Six Steps in the Development of SUMS 62
6. Frontiers in Electronic Media 67
7. Searching, Teaching, Repairing, Advertising and Selling 92
8. Content Ordering or Ordered Content? Active vs. Passive Knowledge 102
9. Images and Words: Fractals and Fuzzy Logic 111
10. A Briefest History of Questions 117
1. Choices 128
2. Examples 201
Notes 238


1) Introduction 2) Practical Reasons 3) Philosophical Reasons 4) Natural World 5) Man-Made World 6) Interaction Between Man and His World 7) Theory and Practice Reconsidered 8) Culture Reconsidered 9) Practical Steps.

1) Introduction

Imagine Mr. Gutenberg in 1450 going to the trustees of a large foundation with the proposal that manuscripts were an outmoded form of communicating knowledge and that one should, henceforth, publish everything in the form of books. It would have sounded highly unlikely, if not impossible. Yet, in retrospect, Mr. Gutenberg's idea was undoubtedly a necessary and important step in the development of Western culture.
Today the suggestion that books have become an outmoded form of communicating knowledge and the idea that one should, in future, turn to a combination of visual screens linked with computers, will sound as unlikely and well nigh impossible as Mr. Gutenberg's proposal was then. Such a proposal is not a negation the value of what exists. The invention of printing did not lead to manuscripts being abandoned. Indeed their value has, if anything, increased. Similarly the development of computer based knowledge will not lead to books being abandoned. By rendering more accessible the treasure of historical knowledge, computers will throw more light on the precious value of the book and manuscript traditions.

The costs of a new encyclopaedia of knowledge would be staggering. It is the purpose of this essay to outline some practical and philosophical reasons why such a project is, nonetheless, desirable and in the long run economical. In the second part of this essay we shall provide a preliminary sketch of the proposed encyclopaedia in terms of a) the natural world, b) the man-made world and c) the interaction of man and his world. This will lead to some reflections concerning concepts of theory and practice, and culture. In the concluding section some practical steps will be mentioned.

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