Interactive Archives - Creating A "Librarian-In-A-Box"

Frank LoPinto
Interactive Archives, Inc.
601 Wayward Drive
Annapolis, Md 21401
(410) 224-8914

Randy Davis
Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP)
University of Colorado
Campus Box 590
Boulder, Colorado 80309
(303) 492-6867

The sharp rise in popularity of the Internet has been achieved
despite the fact that it can be difficult to find relevant
information.   Some rudimentary search capabilities do exist,
most of which gauge the relevance of a document by the number of
times a particular word or phrase occurs within it.   But how
does one determine whether a document will be useful without
first accessing it?   It would be better to have a knowledgeable
expert -- like a librarian -- that can point you to the proper

In an ideal world we would have a library and a librarian at our
disposal.  If we don't know how to ask for something the
librarian should question us and figure out what we want by our
answers.  The questions should be easy to answer.  Once the
librarian "understands" what subject we are interested in, it
should give us a list of documents.   But we don't want to read
a lot and we want to be confident that we do read is relevant
and accurate.  Most people never experience this level of
service.  We want to change that by building information servers
that: conduct a dialog with a user, select material to show the
user, and provide information about the quality of the material.
We call such servers "interactive archives".

The Interactive Archives project is carried out under the NASA
Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program.  The project
implements an automated librarian to assist in locating,
retrieving and interpreting on-line information.  Interactive
archives link documents with comments from domain experts to
form a simple semantic network that can guide users to the
information that they want and need.  Our first archive contains
recommendations of the Consultative Committee on Space Data
Systems (CCSDS).  A graphical, interactive user interface is
accomplished using a World Wide Web browser.  We plan to publish
interactive archives for subjects of popular interest such as
home repair, automobile maintenance, etc. and make them
available to the general public over the Internet.