by Kate Bannan on Thu, August 18, 2011
Twenty years ago this month, Tim Berners-Lee, ayoung scientist at the European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN), worked on a better way to communicate and share research information stored on computers at the CERN facility. The result was a browser and editor that could enable information sharing through a common hypertext language. The result was the world’s very first website. The project was started to allow high energy physicists to share data, news and documentation, and it quickly spread. Now, it touches nearly all aspects of our daily life.
The Web has radically changed how we access information, products, services and applications. Prior to the Web, we stored paper documents in file cabinets. We went to libraries to look up information and went to bookstores to buy books. Twenty years ago, we got our news at 6 pm on network television or in the morning newspaper. Twenty years ago, if you wanted to buy an item, you drove to the store to purchase it. The web has changed the world!
The Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) is the DOE office that collects, preserves and disseminates DOE-sponsored R&D results that are the outcomes of R&D projects or other funded activities at DOE labs and facilities nationwide and grantees at universities and other institutions. OSTI has performed this service since the 1940s, but over the years it has evolved and pioneered techniques to make scientific information more readily available to a growing audience. Today OSTI provides access to scientific and technical information using web-based searchable databases offering ever-expanding sources of R&D information to DOE, the research community and the science-attentive public. The number of information transactions has increased one thousand fold. The databases offer search simplicity as well as advanced search capabilities such as customized alerts, results displayed in relevance rank order and downloadable search results for a broad array of scientific information related to DOE missions.
Other recent advances include audio indexing and speech recognition technology, semantic searches, multilingual translation searches and mobile access, all of which make more scientific and technical information available to more people in more formats than ever before.
As technology continues to evolve, we don’t know where technology will be in twenty years, but one thing is certain: OSTI will remain dedicated to the principle that to advance science, knowledge must be shared. And with its proven track record in delivering research results, OSTI will remain a leader in pioneering techniques to increase access to the government's vast stores of scientific and technical knowledge.