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Information Management A Proposal CERN
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2 Hypertext proposal, Many of the discussions of the future at CERN and the LHC era end. with the question Yes but how will we ever keep track of such a. large project This proposal provides an answer to such questions. Firstly it discusses the problem of information access at CERN Then. it introduces the idea of linked information systems and compares. them with less flexible ways of finding information. It then summarises my short experience with non linear text systems. known as hypertext describes what CERN needs from such a. system and what industry may provide Finally it suggests steps we. should take to involve ourselves with hypertext now so that. individually and collectively we may understand what we are. TBL 900620 3, Losing Information at CERN, CERN is a wonderful organisation It involves several thousand. people many of them very creative all working toward common. goals Although they are nominally organised into a hierarchical. management structure this does not constrain the way people will. communicate and share information equipment and software across. The actual observed working structure of the organisation is a. multiply connected web whose interconnections evolve with time. In this environment a new person arriving or someone taking on a. new task is normally given a few hints as to who would be useful. people to talk to Information about what facilities exist and how to. find out about them travels in the corridor gossip and occasional. newsletters and the details about what is required to be done spread. in a similar way All things considered the result is remarkably. successful despite occasional misunderstandings and duplicated. A problem however is the high turnover of people When two years. is a typical length of stay information is constantly being lost The. introduction of the new people demands a fair amount of their time. and that of others before they have any idea of what goes on The. technical details of past projects are sometimes lost forever or only. recovered after a detective investigation in an emergency Often the. information has been recorded it just cannot be found. If a CERN experiment were a static once only development all the. information could be written in a big book As it is CERN is. constantly changing as new ideas are produced as new technology. becomes available and in order to get around unforeseen technical. problems When a change is necessary it normally affects only a small. part of the organisation A local reason arises for changing a part of. the experiment or detector At this point one has to dig around to find. out what other parts and people will be affected Keeping a book up to. date becomes impractical and the structure of the book needs to be. constantly revised, The sort of information we are discussing answers for example. questions like, Where is this module used, Who wrote this code Where does he work. What documents exist about that concept, Which laboratories are included in that project.
Which systems depend on this device, What documents refer to this one. The problems of information loss may be particularly acute at CERN. but in this case as in certain others CERN is a model in miniature of. 4 Hypertext proposal, the rest of world in a few years time CERN meets now some. problems which the rest of the world will have to face soon In 10. years there may be many commercial solutions to the problems. above while today we need something to allow us to continue1. 1The same has been true for example of electronic mail gateways document preparation. and heterogeneous distributed programming systems, TBL 900620 5. Linked information systems, In providing a system for manipulating this sort of information the. hope would be to allow a pool of information to develop which could. grow and evolve with the organisation and the projects it describes. For this to be possible, the method of storage must not place its own restraints on the.
information, This is why a web of notes with links like references between them. is far more useful than a fixed hierarchical system When describing a. complex system many people resort to diagrams with circles and. arrows Circles and arrows leave one free to describe the. interrelationships between things in a way that tables for example do. not The system we need is like a diagram of circles and arrows where. circles and arrows can stand for anything, We can call the circles nodes and the arrows links Suppose each node. is like a small note summary article or comment I m not over. concerned here with whether it has text or graphics or both Ideally it. represents or describes one particular person or object Examples of. nodes can be, Software modules, Groups of people, Types of hardware. Specific hardware objects, The arrows which links circle A to circle B can mean for example that. depends on B, is part of B, refers to B, is an example of B.
These circles and arrows nodes and links2 have different significance. in various sorts of conventional diagrams, 2Linked information systems have entities and relationships There are however many. differences between such a system and an Entity Relationship database system For one. thing the information stored in a linked system is largely comment for human readers For. 6 Hypertext proposal, Diagram Nodes are Arrows mean. Family tree People Is parent of, Dataflow diagram Software modules Passes data to. Dependency Module Depends on, PERT chart Tasks Must be done before. Organisational chart People Reports to, The system must allow any sort of information to be entered Another.
person must be able to find the information sometimes without. knowing what he is looking for, In practice it is useful for the system to be aware of the generic types. of the links between items dependences for example and the types. of nodes people things documents without imposing any. limitations, The problem with trees, Many systems are organised hierarchically The CERNDOC. documentation system is an example as is the Unix file system and. the VMS HELP system A tree has the practical advantage of giving. every node a unique name However it does not allow the system to. model the real world For example in a hierarchical HELP system. such as VMS HELP one often gets to a leaf on a tree such as. HELP COMPILER SOURCE FORMAT PRAGMAS DEFAULTS, only to find a reference to another leaf Please see. HELP COMPILER COMMAND OPTIONS DEFAULTS PRAGMAS, and it is necessary to leave the system and re enter it What was. needed was a link from one node to another because in this case the. information was not naturally organised into a tree. Another example of a tree structured system is the uucp News system. try rn under Unix This is a hierarchical system of discussions. newsgroups each containing articles contributed by many people. It is a very useful method of pooling expertise but suffers from the. inflexibility of a tree Typically a discussion under one newsgroup. will develop into a different topic at which point it ought to be in a. different part of the tree See Fig 1, another nodes do not have strict types which define exactly what relationships they may.
have Nodes of similar type do not all have to be stored in the same place. TBL 900620 7, From mcvax uunet pyrdc pyrnj rutgers bellcore geppetto duncan Thu Mar. Article 93 of alt hypertext, Path cernvax mcvax uunet pyrdc pyrnj rutgers bellcore geppetto duncan. From duncan geppetto ctt bellcore com Scott Duncan. Newsgroups alt hypertext, Subject Re Threat to free information networks. Message ID 14646 bellcore bellcore com, Date 10 Mar 89 21 00 44 GMT. References 1784 2416BB47 isishq FIDONET ORG 3437 uhccux uhcc. Sender news bellcore bellcore com, Reply To duncan ctt bellcore com Scott Duncan.
Organization Computer Technology Transfer Bellcore. Doug Thompson has written what I felt was a thoughtful article on. censorship my acceptance or rejection of its points is not. particularly germane to this posting however, In reply Greg Lee has somewhat tersely objected. My question and reason for this posting is to ask where we might. logically take this subject for more discussion Somehow alt hypertext. does not seem to be the proper place, Would people feel it appropriate to move to alt individualism or even. one of the soc groups I am not so much concerned with the specific. issue of censorship of rec humor funny but the views presented in. Greg s article, Speaking only for myself of course I am. Scott P Duncan duncan ctt bellcore com OR bellcore ctt duncan. Bellcore 444 Hoes Lane RRC 1H 210 Piscataway NJ, 201 699 3910 w 201 463 3683 h. Fig 1 An article in the UUCP News scheme, The Subject field allows notes on the same topic to be linked together within a newsgroup The name of the.
newsgroup alt hypertext is a hierarchical name This particular note is expresses a problem with the strict. tree structure of the scheme this discussion is related to several areas Note that the References From and. Subject fields can all be used to generate links, The problem with keywords. Keywords are a common method of accessing data for which one does. not have the exact coordinates The usual problem with keywords. however is that two people never chose the same keywords The. keywords then become useful only to people who already know the. application well, Practical keyword systems such as that of VAX NOTES for example. require keywords to be registered This is already a step in the right. A linked system takes this to the next logical step Keywords can be. nodes which stand for a concept A keyword node is then no different. from any other node One can link documents etc to keywords One. can then find keywords by finding any node to which they are related. 8 Hypertext proposal, In this way documents on similar topics are indirectly linked through. their key concepts, A keyword search then becomes a search starting from a small. number of named nodes and finding nodes which are close to all of. It was for these reasons that I first made a small linked information. system not realising that a term had already been coined for the idea. TBL 900620 9, A solution Hypertext, Personal Experience with Hypertext.
In 1980 I wrote a program for keeping track of software with which I. was involved in the PS control system Called Enquire it allowed one. to store snippets of information and to link related pieces together in. any way To find information one progressed via the links from one. sheet to another rather like in the old computer game adventure I. used this for my personal record of people and modules It was. similar to the application Hypercard produced more recently by Apple. for the Macintosh A difference was that Enquire although lacking the. fancy graphics ran on a multiuser system and allowed many people. to access the same data, Documentation of the RPC project concept. Most of the documentation is available on VMS with the two. principle manuals being stored in the CERNDOC system. 1 includes The VAX NOTES conference VXCERN RPC, 2 includes Test and Example suite. 3 includes RPC BUG LISTS, 4 includes RPC System Implementation Guide. Information for maintenance porting etc, 5 includes Suggested Development Strategy for RPC Applications. 6 includes Notes on RPC Draft 1 20 feb 86, 7 includes Notes on Proposed RPC Development 18 Feb 86.
8 includes RPC User Manual, How to build and run a distributed system. 9 includes Draft Specifications and Implementation Notes. 10 includes The RPC HELP facility, 11 describes THE REMOTE PROCEDURE CALL PROJECT in DD OC. Help Display Select Back Quit Mark Goto mark Link Add Edit. Fig 2 A screen in an Enquire scheme, This example is basically a list so the list of links is more important. than the text on the node itself Note that each link has a type. includes for example and may also have comment associated with. it The bottom line is a menu bar, Soon after my re arrival at CERN in the DD division I found that the. environment was similar to that in PS and I missed Enquire I. therefore produced a version for the VMS and have used it to keep. track of projects people groups experiments software modules and. hardware devices with which I have worked I have found it. personally very useful I have made no effort to make it suitable for. general consumption but have found that a few people have. 10 Hypertext proposal, successfully used it to browse through the projects and find out all.
sorts of things of their own accord, Meanwhile several programs have been made exploring these ideas. both commercially and academically Most of them use hot spots in. documents like icons or highlighted phrases as sensitive areas. touching a hot spot with a mouse brings up the relevant information. or expands the text on the screen to include it Imagine then the. references in this document all being associated with the network. address of the thing to which they referred so that while reading this. document you could skip to them with a click of the mouse. Hypertext is a term coined in the 1950s by Ted Nelson which. has become popular for these systems although it is used to embrace. two different ideas One idea which is relevant to this problem is the. Hypertext Human readable information linked together in an. Information Management A Proposal Tim Berners Lee CERN March 1989 May 1990 This proposal concerns the management of general information about accelerators and experiments at CERN It discusses the problems of loss of information about complex evolving systems and derives a solution based on a distributed hypertext system This Hypertext document Linked information Hypermedia CERNDOC

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