Text retrieval: filters? (43)

Tue, 21 Mar 89 18:04:34 EST

Humanist Mailing List, Vol. 2, No. 754. Tuesday, 21 Mar 1989.

Date: Tue, 21 Mar 89 09:48:42 EST
From: Andrew Gilmartin <ANDREW@BROWNVM>
Subject: Question about filters.

Hypertext provides a directed approach to information access but who is going
to provide the directed links? A hypertext is not an end in itself but is a
system for expressing implicit and explicit relations, and for handling
version and presentation control. Hypertext is the desirable frontend to
something much more powerful.

What we need are filtering schemes for information. The encumbrance of print
material has forced us to develop codification and condensation schemes that
hide this overwhelming weight of information. Unfortunately, there is no such
encumbrance to assessing online information and it is this coupled with the
one dimensional representation of online texts that makes the whole online
experience overwhelming.

Indices, tables of contents, concordances, etc, are all forms of filtering.
These can and have been adapted for online use. But these schemes were
originally developed for very small texts--a book, a series of essays, an
encyclopedia. They wont work to manage the mass of information rapidly
collecting in the world's archives (which range from the Oxford Text Archive
copy of Cicero to your credit line at TRW.)

There are a number of newer filters available today. The two that seem to
have the most promise are searches based on criteria of terms organized
hierarchically into "topics" and retrieval based on relevance ordering. Has
anyone on the list used these types of filters (available in Personal
Librarian, Topic, Sires)?

-- Andrew Gilmartin
Computing & Information Services
Brown University