As we may "link"

Vannevar Bush wrote an article called “As we may think” originally published in the July 1945 issue of The Atlantic Monthly, just before the atomic bombs. In this article Vannevar Bush already identified that “there is a growing mountain of research. (…) The difficulty seems to be, not so much that we publish unduly in view of the extent and variety of present-day interests, but rather that publication has been extended far beyond our present ability to make real use of the record. The summation of human experience is being expanded at a prodigious rate, and the means we use for threading through the consequent maze to the momentarily important item is the same as was used in the days of square-rigged ships.” Vannevar Bush then proceeds with the proposal of an imaginary machine called the Memex (Memory Extension) a mechanized desk that can store books, records, and communications, so that they may be consulted with speed and flexibility and which will form encyclopedias with a mesh of associative trails running through them; a collective memory extension structured by association links.

Twenty years later, Ted Nelson wrote the article “Complex information processing: a file structure for the complex, the changing and the indeterminate” in ACM 65’s Proceedings. Directly referring to the article by Vannevar Bush, Ted Nelson proposes a flexible file structure built by links between elements of documents. He coins the terms hypertext and hypermedia already acknowledging the multimedia explosion in computer science 30 years before it happens.

Twenty years later, Tim Berners-Lee allows hypertext to jump through the networks by designing hyperlinks crossing internet paths and weaving a logical web of documents that overlays a physical network of machines.

Twenty years later, the web is crossing a new boundary jumping into our daily life investing many objects and virtually every place. And the challenges Vannevar Bush foresaw are all too real now, revealing how visionary he was when he envisioned a world where we would have cameras with us all the time generating even more multimedia documents to be organized. What we also witnessed since the beginning of this new century is that the initial graph of associative thoughts has been joined by a growing number of other graphs. The graph structure that was weaved by our trails of thoughts is now mixed with sociograms capturing the social network structure, workflows specifying the decision paths to be followed, browsing logs capturing the trails of our navigation, service compositions specifying distributed processing, etc.

Not only do we need the means to represent and analyze these graphs, we also need the means to combine them to allow multi-criteria analysis, and the means to precisely capture them and in particular the different types of their inner constituent links and their interlinking relations. Wimmics will attack the question of these changing data structures in a ubiquitous and heterogeneous web, focusing on the characterization of typed graphs to model and capture these different pieces of knowledge and of operators to process them. We will especially consider the problems that occur in such structures combining formal stable semantic model and socially emergent and evolving semantics.