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                What It Takes To Make It Happen:
               Key Issues For Applications Of The
               National Information Infrastructure

Committee on Applications and Technology

Information Infrastructure Task Force

January 25, 1994

     This paper is intended for public comment and
     discussion. Your comments can be sent to any of
     the following addresses:
     Post:     Committee on Applications and Technology
          National Institute of Standards and Technology
          Building 101, Room A1000
          Gaithersburg, MD 20899
     Phone:    (301) 975-2667
     FAX:      (301) 216-0529
     This issue paper was prepared by the Committee on

Applications and Technology of the Information Infrastructure Task Force (IITF) in support of the President's action plan for developing, in partnership with the private sector, an advanced information infrastructure for our country -- the National Information Infrastructure. The Committee is charged with coordinating Administration efforts:

          to develop, demonstrate, and promote applications of
          information technology in manufacturing, electronic
          commerce, education, health care, government services,
          libraries, and other areas, and
          to develop and recommend technology strategy and policy
          to accelerate the implementation of the NII..
     The Committee works with the Subcommittee on High-

Performance Computing and Communications and Information Technology, which was established as part of the Federal

Coordinating Council for Science, Engineering and Technology to coordinate the development of new information technologies. The Committee on Applications and Technology also is responsible for implementing many of the recommendations of the Vice President's National Performance Review that pertain to information technology.


This paper highlights important issues that need to be addressed in the development, demonstration, and promotion of applications for the National Information Infrastructure (NII).

The paper is intended for three important audiences: the public, the committees and working groups of the Information Infrastructure Task Force (IITF), and other agencies and departments in our government.

The goal is to identify and describe the issues so they can be considered and discussed by these audiences, leading to their eventual resolution. Some of these issues, such as privacy, intellectual property rights, information security and the scalability of projects are already being addressed by the committees and working groups of the IITF. Others, such as user acceptance and organizational learning, still need to be addressed by the IITF in order to allow the private/government partnership to evolve and to work together to build and shape the National Information Infrastructure.


Term Definition

               CTI    Critical Technologies Institute
                ED    Department of Education
            FCCSET    Federal Coordinating Council for
                      Science, Engineering and Technology
               HHS    Health and Human Services
            HPCCIT    High-Performance Computing and
                      Communications and Information
              ISDN    Integrated Services Digital Network
              IITF    Information Infrastructure Task Force
               LOC    Library of Congress
               NII    National Information Infrastructure
              NIST    National Institute of Standards and
              NOAA    National Oceanic and Atmospheric
              NSTC    National Science and Technology Council
               OMB    Office of Management and Budget
               OSA    Open Systems Architecture
               PTO    Patent and Trademark Office
               TVA    Tennessee Valley Authority
              USDA    United States Department of Agriculture
              USPS    United States Postal Service
     The following people have provided the time, effort and

expertise to develop this paper on behalf of the Committee on Applications and Technology.

          Area Experts
          Herb Becker (Library of Congress) - Libraries
               Voice: (202) 707-6207Fax:  (202) 707-0955
          Chuck Chamberlain (United States Postal Service) -
     Electronic Commerce
               Voice: (202) 268-5262Fax:  (202) 268-5040
          Ernest Daddio (National Atmospheric and Oceanic
     Administration) - Environmental Monitoring
               Voice:  (202) 606-5012Fax:  (202) 606-0509
          Michael Fitzmaurice (Department of Health and Human
     Services) - Health Care
               Voice:  (301) 594-1483Fax:  (301) 594-2333
          Cita Furlani (National Institute of Standards and
     Technology) - Manufacturing
               Voice: (301) 975-4529Fax:  (301) 216-0529
          Tom Giammo (Patent and Trademark Office) - 
               Voice: (703) 305-9400Fax:  (703) 308-6694
          Linda Roberts (Department of Education) - Education
               Voice: (202) 401-1444Fax:  (202) 401-3093
          Jasmeet Seehra (Office of Management and Budget) -
     Government Services
               Voice: (202) 395-7231Fax:  (202) 395-7285



Other Members of the Issues Paper Group

Jim Gray (Tennessee Valley Authority)

Voice: (202) 479-4412Fax: (202) 479-4421

Gregory Parham (United States Department of Agriculture)

Voice: (202) 720-8155Fax: (202) 690-0289

          Bruce Don (Critical Technologies Institute)
               Voice (310) 393-0411 x6425Fax: (310) 393-4818


The publication of the Agenda for Action on the National Information Infrastructure (NII)1 in September 1993 greatly heightened the level of public debate on information technology and social change.

That and other white papers, studies, and commentaries dramatically sketched a vision of the near future, in which a web of advanced communications networks and computers would bring vast amounts of information and greatly improved services to the homes of virtually every citizen - if we as a nation properly manage the technology.

With this paper, the Committee on Applications and Technology of the President's Information Infrastructure Task Force proposes a basic set of critical issues which our nation will face as the NII evolves. Our perspective in selecting these issues is that of applications that will use the NII.

The reasons for taking this perspective - indeed, for creating this Committee - are grounded in the unique role the Federal government plays in the development of the NII.

The National Information Infrastructure is not a cliff which suddenly confronts us, but rather a slope - and one society has been climbing since postal services and semaphore networks were established. An information infrastructure has been with us for a long time, continuously evolving with each new advance in communications technology. Why the sudden debate?

Change is coming much faster, and more thoroughly, than ever before. In our lifetimes we will see information technology bring more changes to more aspects of our daily lives than have been witnessed in the preceding century. Digital technology is merging the functions of television sets, telephones, and computers. Fundamental changes are in store for us in the ways we work, learn, shop, communicate, entertain ourselves, and get health care and public services. And those are just the applications we can foresee.

Private industry will be responsible for virtually every major facet of the NII and the information marketplace it

creates. Private industry will build and manage the networks, provide the information tools and much of the information that travels the networks, and develop the many of the applications that use the networks.

But government remains a major participant in the NII. One reason is obvious - government policies are a major force in the information infrastructure. One of the principal goals of the Information Infrastructure Task Force is to develop and foster informed government policy that promotes our societal goals for the NII without unnecessarily hampering industry.

As Vice President Gore has observed, "Our goal is not to design the [information] market of the future. It is to provide the principles that shape that market. And it is to provide the rules governing this difficult transition to an open market for information. We are committed in that transition to protecting the availability, affordability and diversity of information and information technology as market forces replace regulations and judicial models that are simply no longer appropriate."2

Less obvious, however, is the fact that government plays a major role in the development of NII applications:

As one of the nation's biggest users of information technology, the government develops NII applications to speed and improve the delivery of its services. Examples include making social security payments by computer or disseminating census data.

Government research agencies play a national role in R&D for the information infrastructure. This research often includes the development of prototype applications as a proof of concept, or to help speed the development of useful applications by the private sector. Examples include work on advanced medical information applications, work on NII tools for educators, and research on advanced manufacturing applications using computer networks.

The Committee on Applications and Technology was created in part to provide a forum for discussing and coordinating the host of applications efforts across the Federal government. So pervasive is the NII and the issues it represents that virtually every department and function of government is involved.

The Committee's goal is to encourage Federal researchers working on NII applications to view their work in the greater context of the NII as a whole, and to:

          promote the sharing of information among Federal
          agencies developing NII applications;
          highlight opportunities for cooperative efforts between
          Federal agencies and between government and industry;
          promote discussion of critical technical and social
          issues in the development of the NII that affect the
          development and use of advanced NII applications.
     Viewing the development of the NII from an applications

perspective is important for the lessons we learn about the practical effects of complex issues such as intellectual property rights, privacy, and equitable access. Building applications for

real users is a powerful tool for rooting out the bugs in the system.

The Committee has selected seven major application areas for initial study:

          electronic commerce and telecommuting,
          environmental monitoring,
          health care, and
          government services.

These are not all-inclusive, but they span a broad and useful range of social objectives.

Viewing the NII from these seven application areas, we have identified 16 issues for debate and resolution. For convenience and clarity, we can group these issues by those that primarily are concerned with people, the users of the NII; those concerned with information, the commodity of the NII; those concerned with software, hardware, and networks, the media of the NII; and those concerned with financing the NII:

     People issues:
          Providing equitable access to the NII
          User acceptance of NII applications
          Privacy safeguards
          User training
          "Organizational learning" of the new paradigms and
          organizational structures needed to take maximum
          advantage of the NII
          Private sector acceptance of government-developed
          applications technology
     Information issues:
          Intellectual property rights
          Information security
          Information access
          Information and data standards
          Information conversion from "old" storage to NII media
     Software, hardware, and network issues:
          "User-friendly" hardware and software
          Interoperability standards
     Finance issues:
          Cost and pricing
     In the following sections we discuss these application areas

and issues in greater detail. Note that this paper only provides descriptions of these issues as a stimulus to further debate. We by no means intend to imply that these are all the important issues. We also do not wish to imply that government should or ought to be involved in the resolution of every single one of these issues.

We welcome your comments.


One of the important lessons of the "applications perspective" is the need to consider critical NII implementation issues in the context of the whole. Things are connected, interdependent. Issues tend to cut across several applications; applications tend to depend on several critical issues.

The applications perspective provides a framework for debating
these issues. In the following analysis, we attempt to catalog how
each issue affects the applications areas from our initial list, consider how important such issues may be in achieving the societal
goals that each application supports, and identify missing issues.

The Committee on Applications and Technology includes representatives from most agencies that are involved in developing and using NII applications. The following discussions reflect hands-on experience.

The following table summarizes our initial analysis. In this table, designates an issue that is particularly important for the application area in question; designates an issue that is critical for the given application area. Note that most of these issues are cross-cutting and affect several applications areas. Some, however, appear to be particularly important for specific applications areas; in short, they are critical issues that have to be resolved for any progress to be made in those areas.


ISSUES                 Health    Environ-  Manufac-  Elect.    
Gov.      Educatio  Librarie
                       Care      mental    turing    Comm. &   
Services  n         s
                                 Monitori            Telecom-
                                 ng                  muting


Equitable Access

User Acceptance


User Training


Private Sector


Intellectual Property

Information Security

Information Access

Information and Data



Hardware, &



Cost & Pricing



We discuss cross-cutting issues in this section and critical issues in the section that follows.


Providing equitable access is important for many of the applications areas considered. This issue includes access to other
individuals and citizen groups via the NII as well as access to information. For health care, it is important that all medical providers (doctors, hospitals and clinics, for example) have access to
health care information, and colleagues, on the NII. For education and
for libraries, all teachers and students in K-12 schools and all public libraries - whether in urban, suburban or rural areas; whether
in rich or in poor neighborhoods - need access to the educational and
library services carried on the NII. All commercial establishments and
all workers must have equal access to the opportunities for electronic
commerce and telecommuting provided by the NII. Finally, all citizens
must have equal access to government services provided over the NII.


User acceptance will be an important issue in NII, particularly in applications areas that extend computer-based information services to new groups of users who have been noticeably "computer-skeptical" in the past (e.g., shop floor workers and doctors) or who simply will not be inclined to learn obscure or non-intuitive rules simply to interact with computers. National jokes about the notorious difficulty of programming video recorders provide a cautionary parable in user acceptance.


Privacy will be an important issue in those applications areas involving sensitive information about individuals or organizations.3 This area includes health care (individual medical records), government services (income tax returns, for example), and education (grades of individual students or teacher evaluations, for example.)

While privacy concerns in these areas are easily appreciated, other less apparent areas are affected as well. For example, while library patrons increasingly accept materials in digital form accessed over networks, such acceptance is still far from universal. Some users are concerned that the use of electronic technology provides an easy way to monitor what people are reading and researching. Assurances that the kind of information people access in libraries is a private matter and protections for that privacy will be necessary to allay such concerns.


User training -- learning how to use the new technologies and
applications -- will require new approaches in the workplace, the classroom, and the home. Understanding the user education and training requirements of advanced NII applications is a challenge in
itself; for example, education may not take place in the traditional
classroom. Given the public benefits of this learning, it is likely
that the government will need to provide resources for both basic and
applied research as well as providing financial assistance to those
who provide education and training.


Organizational learning closely parallels user acceptance and training. Many applications will involve the development of new paradigms for doing the job and will require re-engineering the business or mission (electronic commerce and telecommuting, or K-12 education, for example.)

New ways of functioning, distinctly different from current practices, will be required to achieve the greatest benefits from NII applications in many areas. These new ways -- for what constitutes the "classroom" in education, what goes on in it, and what is the role of the teacher; for what constitutes the workplace; and for the conduct of commerce -- will require a large degree of organizational learning. This learning will not always be easy to achieve: it will result in new roles and missions for many people; it will require retraining of individuals, some with professional and career skills learned over a lifetime, so that they will be more able make the transition to the workplaces of the Information Age.


Private-sector acceptance by service providers and vendors of the results of government-sponsored research is an important issue if the nation is to reap the benefits of the government's investment in new NII applications and services. Much of the NII technology that initially will be developed as part of governmentsponsored
programs could later be adopted by the private sector if the needs of the private sector are properly integrated in the development stage. The success of a new applications generally requires substantial user involvement in planning, decisionmaking and development. In developing new technologies and accelerating the implementation of NII applications, the government must work closely with those who will eventually provide and vend NII applications to ensure compatibility, interoperability, and usability. This is especially true in health care, environmental monitoring, manufacturing, and electronic commerce and telecommuting, where the federal

government is promoting applications which will be offered primarily by the private sector.


Intellectual property rights is an important issue in those areas where individual intellectual creations (books, music, software) are accessible - and subject to copying - by many people via the NII. Libraries are the most obvious area where this is a concern, but other application areas such as education and government services also are involved. Ensuring that the creators of this material can be compensated for their work while still providing for public "fair use" under the proper circumstances will be a key determinant of the quality and availability of informational goods and materials through the NII.


Information security - which includes confidentiality, information integrity, and information authenticity4 - is an important issue in all of the applications areas considered here, in view of the many potential threats posed to the security of inter-linked information systems by malicious pranksters or criminals skilled in computer use. For example, it will be important in the health care area that individual medical records are not stolen or surreptitiously modified via the NII; it will be important in the manufacturing, electronic commerce, and telecommuting areas that proprietary information belonging to individual companies is adequately protected; and it will be important for environmental monitoring so that severe weather warnings and toxic release alerts are not compromised.


Flexible and timely access to all of the information resources
contained in the NII - the knowledge of what information is available,
where it is, and how to get it in a timely fashion and in a useful
form - is important. This access requires that the information not
only be available, but it must also be maintained and kept current.
Access to timely, useful information is especially important in applications areas such as manufacturing, libraries, and environmental
monitoring, where large quantities of data must be sorted, stored,
retrieved, and managed.


The development and implementation of standards for information and data are essential to ensuring that information passed from one point to another along the NII is complete,

unambiguous, and, most importantly, usable.5 While data standards are critical, the technical connectivity they enable is not enough. Without information standards, companies cannot exchange information in a useful manner. This is true at both the national and international level. One of the major challenges in this area is developing ways to define these standards so the same data can be used throughout the life cycle of the product, from design through retirement/recycling.


Conversion of information from "old" storage media (books, drawings, and pictures, for example) to NII electronic storage media will be an important issue in all applications areas possessing a large legacy of pre-NII information. This area includes libraries (everything that has been written since the dawn of recorded history), health care (the existing medical records of patients), and government services (patents, for example). It may include other applications areas as well, although the importance of conversion fades as information ages in many areas, in distinct contrast to the situation in libraries.


User-friendly hardware and software always have been important
for mass applications of information technology. For NII applications,
such as those in health care or education, that are meant for use by
broad segments of society user-friendliness will be an important factor in user acceptance. But the impact of user-friendly systems
goes beyond simple convenience and marketing to serious questions of
accuracy and reliability. User-hostile systems encourage mistakes in
using applications, and errors in the information handled by the system.


Interoperability standards are designed to ensure that information can be transferred between different networks, or different hardware and software systems, with accuracy, reliability and security - the system side of the information standards issue discussed above. Interoperability standards are important to virtually all NII applications, and critically important to those that must function across a range of disparate systems, in manufacturing, health care and education, for example.

There are many unresolved questions regarding interoperability standards, such as the best mechanism for developing good standards that will be widely accepted by NII users and vendors. In some areas, such as manufacturing, it is important that new standards be compatible with the large

existing base of installed systems and archived data. As with all standards-related issues, it will be important to develop standards that are flexible enough to adapt to future changes in technology and permit systems to upgrade at an affordable cost.


Scalability will be an issue in all NII applications that are developed initially as small pilot projects, later to be extended to widespread use. For example, in education, demonstrations of attractive technology applications have required highly skilled people, dedicated projects, and special funding. Scaling from a few demonstration schools to every school will require the application to perform as well with dramatically lower resources of skills and funding. Successful scale-up requires substantial user involvement in planning, decisionmaking and development of both the full scale systems and the pilot and demonstration forerunners. Similar problems face all seven of the applications areas considered here, but scaling will be particularly challenging for wide-spread application areas such as education, libraries, health care and manufacturing.


Cost and pricing - how much a new application costs, how much the user is charged for the service, and who pays any difference between cost and price - will be key issues in nearly all NII applications areas.

Like information products and services generally, most NII applications will have high initial development costs and low replication or usage costs. As a result, it can be economically efficient as well as socially beneficial to maintain low prices for applications to stimulate their use, so long as the operating costs for each new user are recovered. However this approach can result in prices that differ from the real costs and applications developers - both public and private - must recover their initial costs as well as the costs of serving users through some combination of higher prices or subsidies.


Closely related to costs and pricing issues are questions of how public funding should be used for the development and deployment of new applications. In some application areas, such as education, relatively large amounts of government assistance probably will be required to implement NII applications equitably, since funding to acquire new technology is limited in most school systems.

Just as potential NII applications exist in virtually every department of government, so calls for taxpayer assistance in the implementation of those applications will come from every quarter and constituency. How the limited Federal and state resources will be allocated - indeed, how those decisions will be made - are crucial questions for every level of government.


The issues discussed above are all important to the success of NII activities developing and deploying applications in the application areas identified. In some of these areas, certain of the issues are critical. (These are identified by the in the table on page 6.) These critical issues, if not handled properly, could prevent successful development and deployment of the NII activities in question.

These critical issue/applications area combinations include:


Privacy of personal data will be absolutely essential in health-care applications, a task complicated by the fact that many different parties - insurance companies and medical researchers, for example - will need automated access to at least some portions of individual patient data. The privacy of that data must be assured, and threats to that privacy exist today. In the automated health care information system envisaged in the Administration's proposed health care reform proposal and in the NII, the opportunities for violations of this privacy may be vastly increased.


In the early days of the development of the telephone, some observers noted that the new invention was so clearly useful that in the future every city would need to have one to bring news quickly to the citizenry. What they did not recognize was that the telephone brought with it a fundamental change in communication. Old, highly centralized systems and institutions developed to handle the post and telegraphy weren't appropriate for the new invention and couldn't use it to the best advantage.

The NII brings with it a fundamental change in how information moves and is handled. In the application areas of education and commerce in particular, this change will require new ways of functioning - distinctly different from current practices - to achieve the greatest benefits from the NII.

Restructuring systems and organizations to take maximum advantage of NII applications without impairing the effectiveness of the organization as a whole will require a large degree of learning and adaptation on the part of the institution. New ways of doing the job will be markedly different from past practices and may require significant investments in professional development and training because individuals (teachers for example) play key roles in these applications areas.


Manufacturing is driven by the need to produce high-quality, competitively priced goods, tailored to customers' needs, quickly. This cannot occur without the ability to exchange manufacturing information and data across activities inside and outside an organization in a timely and useful manner. Moreover, such advanced manufacturing applications as concurrent engineering and agile manufacturing cannot take place without the development and implementation of standards for the exchange of manufacturing information and data.

Already, US manufacturers and the federal government have begun the process to jointly create a standard for the exchange of product model information (STEP). Such a standard will give small and large manufacturers the ability to expand and integrate their operations and enable the introduction of advanced manufacturing applications such as concurrent engineering and agile manufacturing into the American workplace.

Additionally, for the NII to be a reality, communications data standards for interoperability must be established. Significant progress has been made in this area through efforts such as Open Systems Architecture (OSA) and the Integrated Services Digital Network (IDSN). As NII applications and technologies advance, the development, design, and implementation of interoperability standards will need to keep pace. This need is particularly acute in manufacturing and electronic commerce.


The bulk of the material in our nation's libraries (e.g., 100 million items in the Library of Congress) is not in digital form. Without conversion of at least selected parts of these collections, they will never be accessible over the NII. Although the technologies for producing these conversions are in many cases available and constantly improving, the costs are not trivial and so the sources of funding for the digitization of noncommercial,
non-entertainment materials and which materials should receive priority are open issues.6

     The IITF already has noted and organized itself to address

several of the important issues on our list. In particular, the Committee on Applications and Technology has formed a Technology Policy Working Group to address the issues of interoperability and scalability, and working groups have been formed as part of the Information Policy Committee and the Telecommunications

Policy Committee to address intellectual property rights, privacy, and universal access.

We strongly endorse these efforts. The balance of the issues present in this review include questions which cut across all areas of applications development, technology policy, information policy and telecommunications policy. We look forward to working with the Information Policy Committee and the Telecommunications Policy Committee to further explore and refine these issues.


For the IITF to follow through on the remainder of the issues identified in this paper requires at least two steps.

First, the IITF committees and interested individuals and groups from the private sector should review this paper and the issues we have presented to broaden our understanding and perspective. We welcome comments.

Next, the IITF should review the issues reported here, the framework for assessing the issues, and the comments from the private sector and the other committees to decide if its organization is adequately structured to address the key issues. For example, if the categorization of issues outlined here - according to the components of the infrastructure: people, information, processes (software, especially applications), hardware and networks - is useful, we should consider whether our current IITF structure covering information, telecommunications, and applications and technology adequately addresses people and hardware.

Some steps are already being taken in this direction. A working group of the Committee on Applications and Technology has been formed to address technology policy issues, and the Committee has instituted a public issues discussion program as part of its regular meetings to facilitate a dialog on the issues outlined in this paper.

In closing, we would like to repeat and emphasize the point made earlier. In presenting this issues paper, the Committee on Applications and Technology intends only to describe an initial catalog of critical issues that must be addressed and resolved in the development of the NII. We see this is a starting point for discussion, and not a document to close off discussion of other issues.

Your comments on this paper can be sent to any of the following addresses:

     Post:     Committee on Applications and Technology
          National Institute of Standards and Technology
          Building 101, Room A1000
          Gaithersburg, MD 20899
     Phone:    (301) 975-2667
     FAX:      (301) 216-0529


Ameritech, Bell Atlantic, et. al., An "Infostructure" for All Americans: Creating Economic Growth in the 21st Century, April 1993.

Baer, Walter S., Government Investment in Telecommunications Infrastructure, RAND, October, 1993.

Hundley, Richard O., Robert H. Anderson, Anthony C. Hearn, Willis H. Ware, Cyberspace Security & Safety, RAND, DRU-530- ARPA, October 1993.

National Information Infrastructure: Industry and Government Roles, An Issues Paper from ITAA, Arlington, VA, July 1993.

Office of Technology Assessment, U.S. Congress, Making Government Work: Electronic Delivery of Federal Services, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., November, 1993.

President William J. Clinton and Vice President Albert Gore, Jr., Technology for America's Economic Growth, A New Direction to Build Economic Strength, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., February 22, 1993.

Scully, John, et. al., Perspectives on the National Information Infrastructure: CSPP's Vision and Recommendations for Action, The Computer Systems Policy Project, January 12, 1993.

The CPSR Newsletter, Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, Palo Alto, CA, Volume 11, No. 2, Summer 1993.

The Infrastructure Dilemma: Matching Market Realities and Policy Goals, The International Communications Association, January 1993.

The Library of Congress, Delivering Electronic Information in a Knowledge Based Democracy, Summary of Conference Proceedings, July 14, 1993.

The National Information Infrastructure: Agenda for Action, Information Infrastructure Task Force, Washington, D.C., September 15, 1993.

Vice President Al Gore, From Red Tape to Results, Creating a Government that Works Better & Costs Less, Report of the National Performance Review, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., September 7, 1993.

Vision for a 21st Century Information Infrastructure, Council on Competitiveness, Washington, DC, May 1993.

1 The National Information Infrastructure: Agenda for Action, Information Infrastructure Task Force, Washington, D.C., September 15, 1993.

     2Speech to the National Press Club, December 21, 1993.
     3 Privacy deals with an assurance that no parties authorized
access to the information make improper use of it.
     4 Confidentiality of information is the assurance that no

unauthorized parties have had improper access to the information. Information integrity is the assurance that the content of the information has not been altered. Information authenticity is the assurance that the authorship or source of the information is as indicated.

5 For the purposes of this paper information standards could be thought of as addressing the question "what information do you need?" while data standards address the question "what form should you expect the information in?"

6 In the 15th century, after Gutenberg's invention of moveable type for printing, mankind faced a similar problem: converting the hand-lettered manuscripts in the libraries of that age to the printed page. At the time, this may have seemed like a major undertaking. Looking back at it today, when the volume of existing printed information - and the capacity for producing printed information - exceeds by many orders of magnitude the volume of hand-letter manuscripts that existed in 1440, it seems like a minor problem. Future ages, in which the volume of digital, multimedia information in library collections exceeds by many orders of magnitude the volume of current printed collections, may have a similar view of today's problem.