Re: The future of meta-indices/libraries?

"Rob Raisch, The Internet Company" <>
Date: Wed, 16 Mar 1994 00:32:26 --100
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From: "Rob Raisch, The Internet Company" <>
To: Multiple recipients of list <>
Subject: Re: The future of meta-indices/libraries? 
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Yup.  All absolutely correct.

One nit, though.  This is hardly a problem with WWW alone.

Archie/Veronica fail miserably if you do not actually know beforehand 
what you are looking for.  In other words, if I know the exact book I 
require I can search a list for the title and find the exact location in 
the library where it resides.  But woe is me if I am looking for books on 
a particular topic, the librarian only gives me a blank stare and points 
me to the same list of titles.

Since the only place where this information exists is in the
administration of the repository itself, it does little good to reap book
titles.  Only the administrator of the repository knows what "resources" 
she offers to the network at large.

Currently all resource navigation tools on the gI suffer from this 
problem (gI := global Internet.)  The only effort which I believe comes 
close to being a useful solution to this problem is the "topic oriented" 
gopher lists.  But the failure here is the fact that this information 
must be gathered by a human without any help from the source of the 
information -- the repository.  Sort of like taking down names of 
businesses from the phone book and deciding in which category that 
business might reside.

I strongly feel that the repository must shoulder the role of the
cataloger. But (before all you repository managers balk at the size of the
problem), we really need to take a very hard look at what it is we need to

I believe that the gI is made up of "resources" where that word refers to
collections of information -- not to the information itself.  For example: 

  The Electronic Newsstand is a resource, as are the magazines it 
  encompasses, but the individual articles are not resources.

  Counterpoint's Federal Register is itself, a resource, as are the 
  various gubermint agencies included, but not the individual rules and 

It has been in my mind for some time to start something which begins to
categorize the value which the gI represents, but does not specifically
index. (And this is the real question, the difference between an index --
which serves one valuable purpose, and a "table of contents" -- which
serves quite another.)


I propose the GRIP -- Global Resource Identification Project -- where 

-- managers of internet resources (a concept, to be clearly defined) are 
provided with an IAFA-like template of a form along the lines of:

	Name:		Out Magazine
	URL:		gopher://
	Location:	Palo Alto, CA
	Description:	The world's leading magazine of gay and lesbian
			issues.  Published monthly.
	Keywords:	Gay Lesbian Homosexual Queer Politics Entertainment
	Category:	Publications/Magazines
			Politics/Gay and Lesbian Issues
			Culture/Human Sexuality
	Abstract:	{URL which points to a long description}

-- the filled in template is retrieved on a regular basis from the 
resource site and used to create a number of navigation tools:

	Under gopher:

		   Out Magazine/
		    Information --> the text of the template
		    To connect  --> points to the actual resource

	Also incorporated in similar ways into databases accessable via 
	WAIS/WWW/Whois++ etc.

Guilding Principles:

	- provide a template format which has clearly identified 
	  ranges of complience, eg. Required/Recommended elements

	- maintain some editorial control over the actual categorization
	  mechanism to enhance the value of the service

	- provide the database in as many forms as possible

	- provide the raw data (templates) to allow others to create
	  a rich set of tools to leverage it in different ways

	- distribute the load over as many well connected sites as possible

	If we can come up with a document which clearly identifies what is
	and is now a "resource"...

	If we can come up with an "approved" template...

	And if we can come up with an "official" categorizing method...

	The Internet Company will donate programming/MIPS/pipe and Megs 
	to get this off the ground.

Ultimately, this is an effort which should be distributed over the entire 
gI in a reasonable manner.  Portions of the gopherspace so generated 
could be distributed on various altruistically inclined sites, as well as 
the WWW and Whois++ databases.  Dunno 'bout the WAIS stuff.  I suppose 
it's possible to break this out into categories and WAIS up the categories.

I also think that the raw data (templates) retrieved from each site 
should be made available to any and all, to develop a richer set of tools 
to interpret the data.

Ok?  Who wants to play?

--  </rr>  Rob Raisch, The Internet Company