Spaces of Information Modeling, Action, and Decision Making
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Nowadays, tremendous information sources are preserved, ranging from those of a traditional nature like libraries and museums to new formats like electronic databases and the World Wide Web. Making these sources consistent, easily accessible, and as complete as possible is challenging. Almost a century ago, people like Paul Otlet were already fully aware of this need and tried to develop ways of making human knowledge more accessible using the resources and technology available at that time. Otlet's ideas about a Universal Network of Documentation and the Universal Book are clear examples of such efforts. Computer science currently provides the means to build digital spaces that consist of (multimedia) information sources connected through the Internet. In this article, we give a nontechnical overview of the current state of the art in information management. Next, we focus on those aspects of Otlet's work that deal with the organization of knowledge and information sources. Then we study the potential connections between Otlet's work and the state of the art of computerized information management from a computer scientist's point of view. Finally, we consider some of the problems and challenges that information management still faces today and what computer science professionals have in common with, and can still learn from, Otlet and his work.
© 2012 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. This article first appeared in Library Trends, Vol. 61 (2), 2012, pp. 304-324.
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