Site: Kyoto University
Yoshida-Honbacki, Sakyo-ku
Kyoto, 606-8501 Japan

Date Visited: 27 March 1998

WTEC Attendess: R.D. Shelton (report author), T. Ager, R. Chellappa, B.Croft, B. Davis-Brown, L. Goldberg, R. Larsen, J. Mendel, H. Morishita, R.Reddy, M. Shamos


Dr. Makoto Nagao, President


Professor Nagao has personally conducted and coordinated some of the mostimportant digital information organization research in Japan. Prof. Nagao alsohelped organize the itinerary for this study by identifying the key sites tovisit as he did in 1991 for the WTEC machine translation study tour.


Prof. Nagao reviewed his design during 1991-1994 of the Ariadne digitallibrary in operation at the Kyoto University Library (Nagao n.d. (b)). Some ofthe goals for this system were use of the table of contents of journals orbooks as a search unit, use of a hypertext structure linking documents,convenient browsing functions, and design for networks of digital libraries.Fujitsu implemented this design, which is an example of university-industrycooperation. The demonstration of this system to the WTEC team on March 26 isdescribed in a separate site report.


Prof. Nagao argues that the concept of copyright needs to change in the ageof digital libraries. He proposes that everyone should have the right to use,make copies, or to incorporate the work into his by paying a set fee to theauthor or publisher. While such compulsory licenses are found in other fields,Prof. Nagao would allow the author to set the scale of charges; if there islittle demand, the scale would be reduced. Prof. Kitagawa at Kyoto has a grantfrom the Japan Society for Promotion of Science (JSPS) to implement thisconcept in a "Copymart."


Prof. Nagao believes that the potential for digital books and libraries willbe only realized when a "portable reading device" is developed that has thephysical appearance of a conventional publication. He expects that such deviceswill be on the market in two or three years. The first application might benewspapers whose content is delivered by wireless. The success of digitallibraries depends on a reader that looks like a book; a client PC is not asufficiently attractive interface.


Prof. Nagao believes that scientific publishing in the future will largelybe done by the authors freely posting their papers on the Web for the benefitof colleagues and students. Many authors will bypass publishers entirely unlessthey offer superior packaging, advertising, and marketing generally. Theportable reading device could make it possible for publishers to compete byoffering attractive packaging-it would look like a book, but be allelectronic.


Prof. Nagao believes that in 20 years students will be able to hear theirlectures from all over the world via networks. Some 20 leading languages willhave good machine translation (MT) systems; Japanese-English systems will beespecially well developed.


The National Diet Library (NDL) has some educational features. There is alibrary at Ueno in Tokyo that is dedicated to children's books; the NDL isconverting it to a digital library over the next two years. Kyoto University isusing distance learning to bring lectures to the main campus from separateinstitutes.


The infrastructure for such information systems is in good shape; thedifficulty is how to accumulate contents. The Japanese government is not muchengaged in coordination in the digital libraries field, except for Ministry ofEducation (Monbusho) support of several digital libraries, the MITI project,and the National Diet Library. Prof. Nagao believes that the field is at tooearly a stage for much standardization. He plans to encourage the creation of asecond National Diet Library in the Kansai area in 2002 as a vehicle fornational and international coordination and standardization. Kyoto Universityis creating a new school of informatics with 120 professors to house a widevariety of information systems research and development.


Nagao, Makoto. n.d.(a). Copyright in the age of digitallibraries. Fourth IPA Copyright Symposium. Tokyo.

Nagao, Makoto. n.d.(b). Multimedia digital library:Ariadne.

Published: February 1999; WTECHyper-Librarian