Soon most information will be available at your fingertips, anytime, anywhere. Rapid advances in storage, communications, and processing allow us move all information into Cyberspace. Software to define, search, and visualize online information is also a key to creating and accessing online information. This article traces the evolution of data management systems and outlines current trends. Data management systems began by automating traditional tasks: recording transactions in business, science, and commerce. This data consisted primarily of numbers and character strings. Today these systems provide the infrastructure for much of our society, allowing fast, reliable, secure, and automatic access to data distributed throughout the world. Increasingly these systems automatically design and manage access to the data. The next steps are to automate access to richer forms of data: images, sound, video, maps, and other media. A second major challenge is automatically summarizing and abstracting data in anticipation of user requests. These multi-media databases and tools to access them will be a cornerstone of our move to Cyberspace.
Publisher Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.
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