Kim H. Veltman

A System for Universal Media Searching (SUMS)

Prepared for: Computers and the History of Art, London, 1994.
Acts not Published


This paper outlines a System for Universal Media Searching (SUMS), a software program which permits multi-dimensional navigation through knowledge. A starting point is in terms of basic questions: who, what, where, when, how, why? Three basic domains and ten levels of knowledge are defined. The use of meters for purposes of conceptual navigation is described. Strategies for addition of new materials, and access to other databases are outlined. It is foreseen that a later version of SUMS will integrate other shells for commentary, creation, publication and testing. It is also planned that SUMS will become one of three search strategies in the context of large scale searches. Keywords: computers, database navigation, multimedia, search strategies.

1. Introduction
2. Questions
3. Domains and Levels of Knowledge
4. Navigation
5. Addition
6. Access
7. Publication, Commentary, Transformation, Creation and Testing
8. Three Search Strategies

1. Introduction

This project began formally as a standard bibliography on perspective in 1976. Titles of 8000 sources and 7,000 secondary sources were collected on file cards. These were entered into a computer using DbaseIII with support from the Getty Trust while the author was Canada's first Getty Scholar in 1986-1987. Dr. Richard Dolen acted as a consultant on problems of entering the material, preparing a draft printed version and charting a plan for database development. From 1987 through 1991 work progressed on a multi-dimensional bibliography permitting access through a number of different points.

Work also continued on detailed access to manuscripts and paintings using Leonardo da Vinci as an example. In 1992 the basic DOS environment was transported to Windows for Multimedia linked with Toolbook for Multimedia. Using windows, materials were called from databases (Codebase, dBase, FoxPro, Freebase, and Superbase) and graphics packages (AutoCAD, Animator Pro, 3-D Studio). As this work advanced, plans unfolded for a knowledge package on perspective, whereby all material on this or potentially any other topic could be integrated. Plans also developed for a first electronic edition of Leonardo da Vinci's works. Hence, by the end of 1992 a new goal emerged: construction of an abstract shell or container into which knowledge from diverse topics could be entered. This shell is being called a System for Universal Media Searching (SUMS, Copyright 19924) and is being written in C++ with a view to being both software and hardware independent.

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