NSF WWW Workshop, Fox Position Paper: Specific Suggestions
- I encourage NSF to encourage development and use of WWW and Mosaic and have
personally acted in this direction:
- Testimonial: Tim Berners-Lee spoke on WWW, Rob Akscyn (then chair of
ACM SIGLINK) talked about hypertext, and I spoke about our NSF funded
work on digital libraries in March 1993 at Online Publishing '93,
Pittsburgh, PA; immediately afterwards I passed around Tim's WWW
notes and brought up some of the early Web software.
- Testimonial: I was greatly pleased when a large group from NCSA came
to the July 1, 1993 Workshop on Information Access and the Networks,
IANET'93, held in conjunction with ACM SIGIR '93,
in Pittsburgh --- and reported on Mosaic.
- Testimonial: Kurt Maly, Alan Selman, Jim French and I have
coordinated work since early 1993 on the NSF funded
(see also our
WWW94 paper) for CS technical report capture, storage and
dissemination, that uses WWW and Mosaic for browsing, query entry,
and presentation of search results and reports. The
project has shorter term goals. Integration with the ARPA CSTR effort
Cornell start-up kit or
DIENST report) has recently been approved by ARPA, and will be enabled
by the facilities of WWW.
- Testimonial: My Fall 1993 Information Storage and Retrieval course
made extensive use of gopher and Mosaic, using servers that have
been running continuously since then (see CS5604 pages);
in Fall 1994 my department has
three "paperless" courses, with all instruction and courseware
delivered through WWW
(thanks to an
NSF funded Education Infrastructure project,
and at least 9 computers running WWW servers
my own workstation).
- However, there is plenty of room for NSF-funded research to help ensure
that WWW and Mosaic lead to even better systems, services, and tools:
- Hyper-G system advantages
are important to consider; they have encouraged us to use it along with
other types of servers in our CS digital library (see our
paper from WWW94)
- MIME, which was planned as an interim solution to multimedia
interchange, should eventually be replaced with a more efficient
standard, with better integrated compression, that would replace it
in WWW and Mosaic use.
- Full support is needed for SGML (for descriptive markup that reduces
the cognitive load on authors -- see
proposal); DSSSL (for specifications on how to
present or print SGML-encoded documents); HyTime (for more
comprehensive description of hypertext, hypermedia, and time-based
documents); and MHEG (for object-oriented description of multimedia,
hypermedia, and interactions) --- to facilitate interchange and
- KMS (a hypertext system, provided by Rob Akscyn's company KSI) type
support is needed for: fast and efficient collaborative editing of
hypertext documents, draw operations, line art, rapid client/server
protocol, and easy adding of annotations.
- Multimedia presentation support is needed, and should move to
constraint and style-guide based schemes; content-based indexing
and analysis of multimedia documents (e.g., images, movies, speech,
music) is also of great importance.
- Advanced retrieval techniques should be applied more to the WWW, e.g.,
with (SGML structure) context-dependent searching, use of extended
Boolean schemes, morphological analysis of document and query terms,
automatic query expansion using a lexicon or thesaurus, clustering
to aid in browsing and retrieval, session-long interative query
improvement through relevance feedback, use of knowledge bases
to allow inferencing and conceptual retrieval, etc.
- IR based models of user-intermediary interactions should drive how
systems carry out interactive sessions, and could inform the behavior
of intelligent retrieval systems.
- Use of general purpose knowledge representation and protocol
standards (KQML, KIF) should be made in agent-based systems.
- Tighter integration is needed with other parts of users' environments,
such as authoring languages for courseware, scripting languages
that specify interactions, mail handlers (that could allow automatic
filtering, routing, classification, filing and retrieval), expert
systems / decision support systems, help and documentation systems,
calendar / tickler systems, agenda and outlining tools, citation and
content searching, etc.
- NSF-funded research in this area might follow these strategic guidelines:
- Integration of WWW-related efforts with Digital Library work should
be strongly encouraged.
- Cross-fertilization of ideas should be encouraged through: support of
interdisciplinary workshops and preference given to broadly skilled
project teams or coordination between projects.
- Scalability, usability, efficiency, and effectiveness should be
required as design criteria for most of the funded efforts, and should
be the basis for obligatory evaluation phases of such studies.
- Studies of users, as they learn anew how to write, read, learn,
and work in the WWW environment, must be undertaken before we loose
the chance to collect data about them --- and results should be fed
into design and development efforts.
- CS researchers should be encouraged to work with other NSF-funded
investigators to create "environments", building upon the current
WWW, for collaborative use, such as for: scientific computation,
engineering design and development, learning, courseware development,
multimedia programming, or proposal preparation/review --- with
on-demand access to needed information, tool integration, multiple
views of design/development/use spaces, and as-needed conversions
between data/information/knowledge representations.
- While expanding the functionality of our emerging universal
interfaces, we must also go back to tailored and crafted specialized
interfaces, drawing ideas from them and fitting those back into WWW.
- A long-term perspective should be adopted, so
- we understand the relation of network and system architectures
to the need for scaling up in size of content and number of
- we think not only about the idea of agents but also about
other means to unleash the tremendous computational power of
the Internet; and
- our research and experimentation is aimed toward task
support that cuts out the middle man and empowers users.