When I became Director of the DOE’s Office of Scientific and Technical Information in 1997, we had a grand vision for a new era of global discovery. The way we provided access to scientific and technical information could be revolutionized. The internet showed promise, unbelievable promise. How exciting it was to become OSTI’s leader at that point in time.
Although the development of the Department of Energy’s web-searchable databases greatly enabled our scientific community to access R&D collections, the search technology was inefficient. How could we make the information more easily accessible to the public? Somehow we had to wrap our arms around and embrace new technologies. We had the talent, we had the motivation, and we definitely had the energy. We knew there was a better way to improve the Government’s service to its people.
Other U.S. agencies were struggling with the same challenges. Each agency had amazing scientific collections and databases, but there was no tool for the public to locate and navigate through this disconnected information. The first parallel searching of government databases and websites was developed by OSTI to solve this dilemma. More work had to be done. Somehow, we had to merge scientific disciplines across agency organizational boundaries to provide a useful science resource for America.
During the May 2000 Workshop on a Future Information Infrastructure for the Physical Sciences and the April 2001 Workshop on Strengthening the Public Information Infrastructure for Science, both led by DOE OSTI, an alliance was formed. Participants forged a consensus on how the public infrastructure for science information could be improved and how public access to scientific information of the federal science agencies could be enhanced. It was believed that a comprehensive, well-organized gateway to science information would provide a coherent government R&D presence on the web....Read more...