What’s on URA activities

To Develop a Foundation for Supporting the Collaborative Creation of Knowledge by Humans and Computers


Unit Name:
Knowledge Resource Sharing Technology
Unit representative:
Professor Shigeo Sugimoto, Faculty of Library, Information, and Media Science / Research Center for Knowledge Communities

Unit members:
7 (4 faculty members, 0 postdoctoral fellows, 3 from other organizations)

Key words:
metadata, semantic web, digital library, data engineering, database


     As there are large amounts of both valuable and less-valuable information on the Internet, it is very important to properly manage the distribution of information. The research unit “Knowledge Resource Sharing Technology” develops and conducts research on information technologies to store and distribute information in networked information environments. The goal of our research is an integrated and hybrid information environment where not only computers but also humans are recognized as fundamental factors. We are currently engaged in the development of an information environment as our information infrastructure to improve the usability of information and knowledge for a large number of people sharing the networked information environments.

Crowdsourcing: problem-solving by humans and computers

     The mission of the research unit is to develop a networked information environment for users to obtain knowledge and information. The goal is not the development of any particular environment but the development of middleware that serves as an important component of the infrastructure for sharing knowledge and information. Although computers have been widely used for solving problems, there are many problems that can only be solved by humans. A good example is a research for tracing footprints of a tornado from its photographs uploaded to the Internet. Some tasks in the tracing are too hard for computers but not for humans – to determine whether or not a tornado is in the picture, and to determine whether or not the tornado in the picture is really the tornado that should be studied. Using “crowdsourcing”, a technology to outsource small tasks to a large number of people working independently on the Internet, we can carry out a large task which cannot be done only by computers. In the case of the footprint tracing of a tornado, researchers can conduct efficient analyses of the routes of tornadoes integrating human intelligence of many participants to recognize the footprints and computing power to collect and process information from the participants.

Fundamental information technologies for knowledge resource sharing

Figure: Fundamental information technologies for knowledge resource sharing

Metadata and digital archives

     In our modern society, it is difficult to imagine our lives without the Internet. Our lives relying on the information resources on the Internet are supported by metadata – data about data. When you are watching only one net-shop you would not be able to recognize what is metadata and how metadata is important for you. When you are watching two or more net-shops to compare their services you would recognize the importance of metadata because you have to compare the metadata.

    Since varieties of information produced by a number of people are available on networks, they can be collected to provide new value-added information. To produce value-added information, it is important to link information and make it available for a long period of time. Metadata are essential for both processes. We have conducted research on metadata schema registry and digital archives – infrastructure technologies required to address those problems.

Research and development of the metadata schema registry “MetaBridge” as a basis to support metadata sharing

Figure: Research and development of the metadata schema registry “MetaBridge” as a basis to support metadata sharing

Social contributions and achievements
● Activities to promote Digital Archive Networks (DAN) for community memory institutions (Museums, Libraries, and Archives: MLA) in collaboration with the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications and other public and private sectors. (http://www.kc.tsukuba.ac.jp/dan20120724.htm)

(Interviewed on October 8, 2013)

Research Administration/Management Office at U Tsukuba TEL 029-853-4434