I remember one of my birthdays back many years ago. My dad pushed me towards a bookshelf with kids encyclopedia and encourage me to study most of it for the next year. I found reference to these books on wikipedia now. According to the information on wikipedia, it contained only ~6000-10000 pages. It was huge amount of information back that days. Also, I remember my first introduction into library of engineering codes and standards. I remember first day I had an access to Encyclopedia Britannica. The old way accessing information…
Everything changed since then. We are not looking for books when we need to get an information about anything. We “google it”… The voice recognition technologies is getting better, so since last month I can try to ask my Android wear device for information. It doesn’t work for everything, but it is getting better.
The fundamental change happened with encyclopedia business. It became completely horizontal. Time ago a small team of people worked to create an encyclopedia that was consumed by millions of people for a long time. Now it is different – wikipedia changed the way we create knowledge and consume knowledge. The knowledge is crowdsourced by millions of people and consumed at the same time.
The way we present knowledge is also changed. Reference books with plain text pages are thing in the past. Today, knowledge represented as a intertwined linked data set with references and rich media – videos, photos, maps and even 3D reconstructed objects. Here is an interesting example of how 3D and information technology can change museum business – Smithsonian X 3d.
New technologies in the field of knowledge capturing and representation combined with new approaches in data management and 3D scanning can change the way we work with information. I’ve been reading Kalypso article – Reference Books and Libraries – So “Yesterday”, which speaks exactly about that:
Let’s face it; libraries, reference books and dictionaries are losing their luster. Exploration and learning today are more likely done through online resources like Google, online research and scholarly journals, Wikis and blogs. So what does this mean for innovation and product development research processes?
Today, three ring binders and file cabinets still clutter the offices of marketers and market researchers at Fortune 500 companies that are considered leaders in innovation. Most of these companies probably have sophisticated enterprise information systems that contain sales information, financials, product data records, inventory and even employee time‐tracking.
Surprisingly, these companies may still track their historical ideation, concept, and project information in three ring binders or manila folders stacked in closets or stored in the basements of a research facility.
Earlier this week I learned about interesting project – LODLAM (Linked Open Data in Libraries Archives and Museums). If you have few minutes free, navigate to that website and take a look. It also brought me back to the ideas of usefulness of Knowledge Graph for PLM. I found a very good capture of current status of how LODLAM approach used to develop new type of information application is the presentation from SemTechBiz 2014. Take a look on the slides here.
All together, it made me think about engineering standards and reference books. It is so old and not efficient. In many cases, engineers are relying on memories because access to the libraries, codes and information is too complicated. Like encyclopedia Britannica existing engineering references look are outdated and complicated to use.
The more I thought about that, more questions came to my mind. How to find relevant engineering codes and standards online? The diversity of engineering disciplines is very high. There are lots of specific industry oriented codes as well as country specific standards and references. How large companies are working with that? Who is curating this information for large industry leaders as well as for millions of small manufacturers and individual makers.
What is my conclusion? The way engineering standards and references are represented today is outdated. The best engineering libraries I found on the web are bunch of university libraries. The data is poorly organized and search mechanism is far from perfect. How to organize engineering references and provide a better access to engineers. Do you think software vendors looking for that? Will future engineering information and design systems provide an access to reference information as part of design and manufacturing processes? Too many questions today :). I have some answers, but I’m looking for some crowdinformation today. Just my thoughts…