Knowledge Organisation

03.12.1993

Kim H. Veltman

Electronic Media and Visual Knowledge

Knowledge Organisation, Wurzburg, Vol. 20 (1993), No. 1, pp. 47-54.

Abstract

The real challenge of today lies in exploring how computers will enable us to do what was not possible previously. The paper attempts to provoke thought about new frontiers of visual knowledge organization. Computers introduce the possibility of interchangeable media. They offer multiple nodes of access to a given term or object. They enable us to approach knowledge on different levels. A scheme of 10 levels is proposed and some consequences for visual knowledge at each of these levels is considered briefly. The final section of the paper considers four navigational tools: questions, maps, meters, and tracking. (Author)

1. Introduction
2. Interchangeable Media
3. Multivalent Access
4. Levels of Knowledge
5. Restorations
6. Reconstructions
7. Questions
8. Maps
9. Meters
10. Tracking
11. Conclusions
12. Postscript

1. Introduction

To date most computer projects in the visual arts have been focussed on the nitty-gritty of compatibility, standards of image quality, storage capacity, authority files for names, places and basic concepts. Some of the papers in this issue have offered detailed glimpses into the complexities of these problems, which need to be solved before we can achieve anything serious. Even so, it is important to remember that these are interim problems, that they will be solved, and that the real challenge lies in exploring how computers will enable us to do that was not possible previously. This paper takes as its point of departure a project that is being funded by BSO/Origin and CHIN and developed in conjunction with Greenfield Projects. It is partly visionary with the intent of provoking thought about new frontiers of knowledge. Why is the computerization of knowledge, particularly visual knowledge important? How will computers change our methods and horizons of research?

At the outset it should be noted that the term computers is actually a synecdoche where a part stands for a whole. The revolution is not just about a desktop PC. It is about a whole gamut of electronic devices ranging from camera recorders and scanning devices to smart cards and display screens in which the computer is merely the most familiar intermediary device. (Some now refer to this set of devices as a transputer). A first point we shall make is that computers in this wider sense introduce the possibility of interchangeable media. Computers offer multiple nodes of access to a given term or object. They enable us to approach knowledge in different levels. A scheme of ten levels is proposed and some consequences for visual knowledge at each of these levels is considered briefly. In the final section of the paper four navigational tools are mentioned: questions, maps, meters and tracking.


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