proposed for IEEE Meta-Data ´99

Early steps and challenges for conceptual navigation *
*submitted, Dec 8, 1998 acceptance pending

Heiner Benking (1)

The original idea of meta-data repositories for multi-lingual and multi-disciplinary data was to attach the context to the data or information in a repeatable and ordered way. The paper will review the process of proposing and designing prototypes in 1990 and how the original implementation proposals and schemas prepared for the 1. meta-data expert group meeting by the author in late 1989 looked like. See INFORMATION ABOUT INFORMATION below. The presentation will explain how technologic capabilities and features, and the political will at that time reduced the original concepts to workable prototypes. The outlook will focus on what is needed to include more features of the original design concepts and see the idea of context mapping as basic to broader and shared understanding.

This historical review and outlook will show the critical ingredients of not only managing operational data in production or administration, but complex areas such as environments and cultures. Most prominently was the concept to employ multiple research strategies and the embodiment of concepts in order to access and assimilate with and beyond words.

Undoubtedly we are only recently beginning to realize that systems and visualization techniques can help us to interact along and across hierarchical scales and present synoptic views which might help us to merge and morph views, insights, and outlooks. Focus is on work in the field of digital reference rooms for cultural heritage and museum and library information and reference systems.

Finally, the proposed reference framework for meta-data, called a Cognitive Panorama, an open, simple, coherent and in itself complete, called a Cognitive Panorama, is presented as one model to organize data and help bride or switch between different schemata or reference/classification schemes.

In retrospect, the designs from 1989 can be seen as a compound of definition or situation spaces which allow joined immersion (collaborative environments CVE’s). and thereby creating shared realities which can help to organize our knowledge more coherently.

The intuitive idea in 1989 was to design a reference or situation space which we would call today a virtual data space and thereby come to repeatable meta-tags.

Such an approach can provide a positive way to make use of the potentials of virtual realities and give a plastic and more real -spacial- meaning to cyberspace. It was obvious that the field of environmental meta-data was picked up first.

With the need to provide meta-data for cultural navigation and the technical possibilities not available 10 years ago, it is indicated to review the original design considerations and the work of earlier world wide expert group meetings. Present projects and design considerations for Cultural Navigation require a broader and common framework for indexing, access, assimilation.

Some „milestone" references in chronological order:
1989-90 Design of the reference schemes for Global Change Research for an exhibition and reports as requested by the WHITE HOUSE conference on Global Change and presented in May 1990 in the German Chancellery. Title: GLOBAL CHANGE: Challenges to Science and Politic, here the reference frame: Blackbox Nature. See articles below, relevant parts of the exhibition will be made available on the web a.s.a.p.

1990 Expert Group Meeting: Towards the design for a meta-database for the harmonization of Environmental Information, Earthwatch UNEP - GEMS, July 26-27, The author prepared this meeting and introduced the concepts and scopes in a paper: INFORMATION ABOUT ENVIRONMENTAL INFORMATION with reference to the GLOBAL CHANGE Exhibition above. (internal UNEP document - was only made available at expert group meeting, first steps where implemented into a prototype)

1991 Harmonization of Environmental Measurement, GeoJournal, Kluwers Academic Publisher, GeoJournal 23.3 249-255, (March) Keune, H, Murray, B., Benking, H.:

1992 Access and Assimilation: Pivotal Environmental Information Challenges - Linking, Archiving, and Exploiting Multi-Lingual and Multi-Scale Environmental Information Repositories, GeoJournal 26.3, 323-334 (March) Kluwers Academic Publisher,

1992 Bridges and a Masterplan for Islands of Data in a Labyrinth of Environmental and Economic Information, ICSU - CODATA, Beijing

1992 ESSIS Earth and Space Sciences Information Systems, ISY -NASA JPL American Institute for Physics.. 1993 American Institute of Physics , page...

1993 NRC - NAS proposal by Benking, FAW, Ulm; Judge, UIA, Brussels; Uhlir, NRC Washington from October 1993 with the title: Linking Heterogeneous Environmental Data for Multipurpose Applications: A Conceptual Superstructure, internal concepts - not finalized

1994 Proposing a Conceptual Superstructure - Work-Report of a Vision to explore issue-scapes like virtual landscapes by making use of Surveyors' abilities and Views, keynote at FIG XX on behalf of the director of UNEP RONA Dr. Noel Brown,

1995 recommendation and theses: REPORT TO THE CLUB OF ROME 'THE CAPACITY TO GOVERN' Seven Points to Remember Yehezkel Dror, Heiner Benking, UN Climate Summit Berlin, 1995

1996 CONCEPT AND CONTEXT MAPPING - TOWARDS COMMON FRAMES OF REFERENCE, TKE '96 Terminology and Knowledge Engineering, INDEKS Verlag, p. 35-47, Vienna 26-28 August 1996, Section 1: Terminology and Philosophy of Science,

1996 A Metaparadigm or Sharable Framework - (Cognitive Panorama) Conference on A New Space for Culture and Society, New Idea in Science and Arts, COUNCIL OF EUROPE

1998 Frontiers and Challenges of Conceptual Navigation, Veltman & Benking, AVI ´98 Advanced Visual Interfaces, Aquila   see also: , , an in particular re: meta-data: , and: ttp:// here 9.meta-data and efforts

The second part: CHALLENGES TO CONCEPTUAL NAVIGATION summarizes the work of the last 9 years and sees it with a system sciences perspective. The tutorial is evolving and was never published yet. For the broader scope see the history of system sciences Weiss and Bertalanffy and


(1) The author works as consultant with clients and partners such as:

FAW Research Center for Applied Knowledge Processing, Ulm, MMI Maastricht McLuhan Institute for Digital Culture, Knowledge Organization, and Learning Technology Infoterm, Vienna, UIA - Union Of International Associations, Brussels and prepared the first world-wide expert groups meeetings for the harmonization of environmental information for UNEP - HEM which was established on the initaitive of the EEES Environmental Experts of the Economic Summit, the UNEP General Assembly, the SRU German

Environmental Experts Advisory Group, and many other bodies.