information management, personal information management, pim, hypertext, wiki, personalization, information organization, blogging, computer-supported cooperative work
K. Andrew Edmonds, James Blustein and Don Turnbull (2006). A Personal Information and Knowledge Infrastructure Integrator. Journal of Digital Information, 5(1).
The Next Big Thing is being grown organically, cultivated by software developers and pruned by personal Weblog publishers. The rising Weblogging space of the Internet is looking more like traditional hypertext than the Web of the 1990s. The ways in which Weblogging has evolved beyond the previous limitations of the Web as hypertext, and the ways Weblogging is evolving towards common-use hypertext destined to play a critical role in everyday life, will be explored. We have a vision of a universal information management system built on extending the traditional hypertext framework. In our utopian future, everyone will use tools descended from today’s blogs to structure, search and share personal information, as well as to participate in shared discussion. We begin by expressing a vision of common-use hypertext for information management and interpersonal communication.
This vision is grounded in the rapid evolution of Weblogs and known issues in information systems and hypertext. The practical implications of who will use these systems, and how, is expanded as usage scenarios for Weblogs now and in the future. After recapping the current issues facing the Weblogging community, we look to the long-range implementation issues with optimism. Our system is forward-looking yet realistic. The activities the system will support are extrapolated from recent developments in the online community, and most of the sketches of implementation are based on current approaches. It is of more than passing interest that the features we extrapolate were all described by Nelson as early hypertext ideals. Of particular interest is that the features are now being implemented because of perceived immediate need by communities of interest.
An enriched personal history of interaction with any networked information, organized by time, location or activity will add much-needed context to ubiquitous computing and its potential for always-on history collection. This history will be available in the universal information manager for user controlled contributions to a spectrum of distributed access, from private to public and dynamic to archival. Already the practice of moblogging (i.e. the use of digital camera-equipped cell phones to take and share photographs taken anywhere ) is expanding the abilities of personal information collections. Moreover, this expansion of digital information collection leads to a multimedia-rich world of individual history, shareable with family, friends and others as permitted. Flexible recombinations of media will allow the easy assemblage of interlinked hypermedia scrapbooks in the PIKII: to catalog the interactions of subsets of people, places and activities enabled by automatically created metadata at the time of media creation, through subsequent interaction and by explicit tagging.
Systems that generate and use implicit tagging and information classification are also key elements of the PIKII. Just as Google uses popularity and relevance measures to sort and rank Web information, authoring tools will enable the use of information annotation in appropriate metadata dimensions to add information about a link or node of information. Such link type information might be, at its simplest, an affective score or a value along a more sophisticated dimension such as typing the rhetorical relationship. This information, when combined with personal history, information content, the interaction with a peer’s data (expressed in any number of ways from a blog post, shared access to personal information or popularity measures), will be key factors that help make information searching more personally relevant.
Beyond singular units of information, the PIKII will provide interfaces for mapping discussions distributed across the Internet and could be the catalyst for widescale adoption of link types in more traditional discussion systems. Affective components of link types may dominate the social aspects of Weblog communication due to simplicity in authoring and dynamic typing through the explicit and implicit methods previously noted. While transclusion and annotation have formed the basis for widespread adoption of hypertext for Weblog communication, the proposed link and node type additions, as well as more general metadata improvements, will facilitate the intertwingling of information, but with an intelligence to help manage attention and provenance
In many ways, this article aligns with a subset of the goals of the semantic Web space (Berners-Lee et al. 2001), which also promises utility for metadata-enriched information about everyday events. In an ideal world, service providers and vendors, software tools and agencies would offer information in standardized, metadata-enriched, machine readable formats suitable for semantic Web intentions. Many chores might be automated, as in the arrangement of health care for example.
Expanding from the semantic Web, a system of successful micropayment schemes may arise, whether they be karmic and barter schemes or involve actual funds transfer that may drive the received value of both preparing and accessing this semantically-enriched information. Information exchanges with knowledgeable experts and the distribution of favors through a Friend-of-a-Friend network may prove to be more valuable and more popular than micropayments. As we have seen, a key to the widespread adoption of Web information to date is the ability to connect openly with individuals and groups who share common interests, a trend that should continue.
This combination of personal, aggregate and networked contextualizing of information nodes and their linking methods has wide-ranging potential for many dimensions of personal knowledge management efforts. The critical need for personal information management and publishing is to bring the fluency that Weblogging software has created for publishing to the process of connecting and integrating information, leading to a storehouse of personal knowledge.
We have a vision of a universal information management system built on a hypertext framework. In our utopian future, everyone will use tools descended from today’s blogs to structure, search and share personal information as well as to participate in shared discussion. Just as Nelson (1990) envisioned a network where everything is deeply intertwingled, we propose that not only everything, but everyone can belong to several, possibly overlapping and discordant, intertwingled communities of interest. These communities will form dense networks of information linkage, allowing many types of structured and unstructured content to continually expand and weave even more interconnected webs of relationships.
People are motivated to communicate many aspects of their lives to many different audiences. The rapid growth of Weblogging has affirmed the appeal of hypertext and validated the notion of individuals as content producers. The availability of personal hypertext systems, with support for granular control over sharing nodes, will increase this adoption for both Weblog authors and readers.
The growth in the amount of digitally captured and hypertextualized information in the coming years will be even more astounding than the growth of the Web over the past ten years. There are significant technical challenges to overcome, but the standards-based organic growth of Weblogs and the Internet shows methods by which these challenges might be overcome. Rejecting the Web as not-hypertext is missing the point. The Web is an incubator for a continuously evolving system of content, user interests and supporting technologies.
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