Academic journal article Information Technology and Libraries

Digitizing the Non-Digital: Creating a Global Context for Events, Artifacts, Ideas, and Information

Academic journal article Information Technology and Libraries

Digitizing the Non-Digital: Creating a Global Context for Events, Artifacts, Ideas, and Information

Article excerpt

This paper discusses some of the problems associated with search and digital-rights management in the emerging age of interconnectivity. An open-source system called Context Driven Topologies (CDT) is proposed to create one global context of geography, knowledge domains, and Internet addresses, using centralized spatial databases, geometry, and maps. The same concept can be described by different words, the same image can be interpreted a thousand ways by every viewer, but mathematics is a set of rules to ensure that certain relationships or sequences will be precisely regenerated. Therefore, unlike most of today's digital records, CDTs are based on mathematics first, images second, words last. The aim is to permanently link the highest quality events, artifacts, ideas, and information into one record documenting the quickest paths to the most relevant information for specific data, users, and tasks. A model demonstration project using CDT to organize, search, and place information in new contexts while protecting the authors' intent is also introduced.

Statement of the problem

Human history is composed of original events, artifacts, ideas, and information translated into records that are subject to deciphering and interpretation by future generations (figure 1). It's like putting together a puzzle, except that each person assembling bits and pieces of the same information may end up with a different picture.


We are at a turning point in the history of humanity's collective knowledge and expertise. We need more precise ways to structure questions and more interactive ways to interpret the results. Today, there is nearly unlimited access to online knowledge collections, information services, and research or educational networks to preserve and interpret records in more efficient and creative ways. (1) There is no reason digital archiving and dissemination techniques could not also be used to streamline redundancies between collections, build cross-references more methodically. (2) Content should be presented and techniques utilized according to orderly specifications. This will help to document work more responsibly, making shared records more correct, interesting, and complete.

The open-source system proposed, Context Driven Topologies (CDT), packs and unpacks ideas and information in themes similar to museum exhibitions using specifications created by each author and network. Data layers are formed by registering unique combinations of geography, knowledge domains, and Internet addresses to create multidimensional shapes showing where data originate, where they belong, and how they relate to similar information over time. The topologies can be manipulated to consolidate and compare multiple sources to identify the most reliable source, block out repetitious or irrelevant background information, and broadcast precise combinations of ideas and information to and from particular places. "Places," in this sense, means geographic region and cultural background, knowledge domain and education level, and all of their corresponding online resources.

Modern information must be searchable on multiple and simultaneous levels. (3) Today's searches occur for a number of reasons that did not exist when most current collections, repositories, and publications were created. Digital records have the potential to reach far broader audiences than original events, artifacts, and ideas. Therefore, digitized items and the acts of publishing and referencing over networks could theoretically serve a longer-term and more expanded purpose than most individual collections, repositories, or publications are designed to serve.

There is no shortage of interesting work to look at. We live in a complex world that is just recently being digitized, mapped, analyzed, and broadcast over the Internet in fine detail and compelling overall relationships. Many of these relationships require mathematics, images, and maps to explain them. …

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