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based on communications paths and direct connections between distributed information sources rather than upon technologies that mechanically or electronically select information from a store. New paradigms of interaction appropriate for multimedia distributed systems will be the focus of new technologies, and automated, intelligent search agents will be found that help consumers as well as providers to find and use what is important and real.

New technologies, combined with the concept of reference-connected sets, may offer another potential solution to the management of the communications process among different institutions in collaborative networks. Future research on community networks should be focused on the operational level rather than the administrative level by linking users of information from the "bottom up" and by searching through communications paths rather than through the content of the information that is stored in distributed databases. This would give communities an opportunity to assess the role of the NII without large investments in technology and would allow participating organizations to gain the economic benefits of the network only in so far as there is a need to collaborate.

An approach is presented here that does not attempt to guide users through the vast domains of information that will be available through the NII. Instead, it helps them to find quickly the others user within their community of interest that may have the information they are seeking. This approach could provide the protocol needed to link national, local, "on-line," off-line, public, nonprofit, and private databases for increased access to collaborative networks. It could also enable providers of health and human services to work together to aid patients medically, psychologically, and socially in the most beneficial ways. It is a tempting approach

References

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