Kim H. Veltman

Augmented Books, Knowledge and Culture

INET'2000, July 2000 ( Available in abbreviated form at the site of the ORF (

1. Introduction
2. New Technologies
3. Hypertext
4. Augmented Books
5. New Reference Potentials
6. Virtual Reorganization of Libraries
7. Virtual Reorganization of Museums
8. Reorganization of Knowledge
9. Augmented Knowledge
10. Challenges
11. New Public Good
12. Conclusions.

1. Introduction

Some inventions are very important. Things that change the world are usually more than an isolated invention. They bring about systemic changes in society. The invention of printing around the year 805 in Korea was very important. But it was not until Gutenberg in the 1440’s had the idea of using that invention for spreading knowledge that something systemic changed. With Gutenberg’s approach, printing became one aspect of a new way of organizing knowledge, a new way of communicating practice. Gutenberg went broke. It took over a century and a half for the vision to manifest itself and yet the world changed.

The invention of the computer has been compared to the invention of printing. This is both true and misleading. It is true because computers entail a systemic change in society, which will change the world even more than the advent of printing. It is misleading because the computer revolution is not about one invention. This paper explores some dimensions of these claims. Computers are an important invention. Connected computers through the Internet are a very important invention. The systemic changes they are bringing with them are changing the world. One of these changes is miniaturisation. A second is the development of mobile equipment. Wireless connections mean a) that we shall soon be able to access equipment literally anytime, anywhere and partly as a consequence thereof, b) most of the neat distinctions between different kinds of devices are disappearing. A third and fourth innovation are Global Information Systems (GIS) and Global Positioning Systems (GPS). A fifth invention is the concept of agents. This means among other things that routine tasks of librarians and scholars can increasingly be relegated to software. A sixth of these changes is that optical character recognition (OCR) is reaching a mature state. This means that digital versions of the Xerox machine are emerging, that we scan anything we wish. It also means, as we shall see, that hypertext takes on a new meaning.

Connected computers in combination with these new technologies are bringing about a systemic change. Most persons expect that this should take the form of some unexpected killer application, which will invariably remove or replace all competition. In our view something more subtle is happening. The systemic change will inspire us to use what we already have in new ways. We shall begin with a brief survey of these new technologies, which at first sight have no connection with one another. This will lead to a review of different meanings of hypertext before exploring how augmented books and augmented knowledge will change our conceptions of knowledge.

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