Education and Research


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.

1. Introduction
2. Knowledge Packages
3. Quantity
4. Internet
5. Navigation
6. Tools
7. Other Collaborative Tools
8. Conclusions

1. Introduction

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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