From the World Brain to the Informatorium --
With a Little Help from Manfred Kochen

Presented by
Eugene Garfield
Chairman Emeritus, ISIâ
The Scientistâ
3501 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

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University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Symposium in honor of Manfred Kochen

September 21, 1999

Early in 1989, I had written an essay as to how information retrieval was affected by the citation behavior of scientists1 and planned to reprint Manfred Kochen's paper "How well we acknowledge intellectual debts."2,3 Even while I was finishing that essay, I learned that Fred had died suddenly. Thus, I was deprived of the chance to convey to him this further evidence of my esteem for his work. As I said then, I hope his family and friends will derive some small solace from these posthumous remarks.

The program for the symposium provides a fairly detailed biographical sketch on Fred. So I won't repeat that information -- his flawless English would never indicate that he was born in Vienna. Nor did I detect any trace of a New York accent. And we did not meet while we were both working or studying at Columbia.

Your program doesn't mention that even before he worked with von Neumann at the Institute for Advanced Study, Fred had a long history as a consultant. Between 1948 and 1955, he held part-time consultancy positions in spectroscopy, aeroelasticity, and photogrammetry. In the 1960s he was a consultant to RAND, RCA Laboratories, the United Aircraft Corporation, and EURATOM (Ispra, Italy); in the 1970s, to the Advanced Research Projects Agency, the National Institute of Education, the Science Center of Berlin and the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Division of Science and Technology. The year before he died he was a consultant to the Library of Congress.

Integrative mechanisms in literature growth.
Westport, Conn., Greenwood Press ,1974.

Access and recognition: from users' data to catalog entries
[by] Renata Tagliacozzo, Lawrence Rosenberg, and Manfred Kochen.
Ann Arbor, Mental Health Research Institute, University of Michigan, 1969.

Principles of information retrieval.
Los Angeles, Melville Pub. Co.,1974.

Information for action : from knowledge to wisdom.
edited by Manfred Kochen, New York : Academic Press, 1975.

Information for the community.
edited by Manfred Kochen and Joseph C. Donohue,
American Library Association, 1976.

Decentralization : sketches toward a rational theory.
with Karl W. Deutsch, Cambridge, Mass. : Oelgeschlager, Gunn & Hain ;
Königstein/Ts. Verlag A. Hain, [1980].

Advances in cognitive science : steps toward convergence.
edited by Manfred Kochen and Harold M. Hastings.
Boulder, Co Published by Westview Press for the American Association for the Advancement of Science,1988.

The Small world.

edited by Manfred Kochen, Norwood, N.J. : Ablex Publishers. (1989)

Fred Kochen authored and edited over 200 publications (including eight books), primarily in information science, artificial intelligence, and the behavioral sciences. He was also a member of several professional and honorary societies: including the American Mathematical Society, the American Physical Society, Sigma Xi, and the American Society for Information Science (ASIS). Our association in ASIS was most significant and reflects our mutuality of interest in information science and technology.

The direct connection between Fred and the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) began in 1972 when I first came across his paper on a proposed worldwide information retrieval system (which he termed "WISE," for’ ‘world information synthesis and encyclopedia")4. At that time, I was writing "The World Brain as seen by an information entrepreneur,’ for the 1974 AAAS Meeting on Reorganizing Information Resources to Improve Decision-Making,5 held in San Francisco. H.G. Wells’ concept of the World Brain had been an inspiration to me early on, and I was delighted it was being recognized as significant by others. Fred and I began to correspond in 1973, but our contacts were probably of even earlier vintage. Fred was closely associated with Professor Merrill Flood at Columbia, with whom, in the early spring of 1954, I had discussed the possibility of taking my doctorate. Several years later Fred had many contacts with my close friend the linguist Casimir Borkowski when they had worked at IBM in Yorktown Heights from 1958 to 1964. Cass and I graduated from Columbia in 1949.6 And eventually, we both took doctorates in structural linguistics under Zellig Harris at the University of Pennsylvania.

When Fred Kochen was nominated to be president of ASIS back in 1986, he eloquently espoused the field of information science.

I am an information scientist. I interpret it very broadly. For me, it includes the study of how brain becomes mind and of the evolution of social organs with mind-like properties, such as scientific communities; how to design and use computer information systems in business; and new roles for information professionals as referential consultants, catalytic brokers, and chief information officers.7
Definitions of information science have provoked continued discussion in our field and the debate may never be settled. But defining oneself as an information scientist, as Fred, did reveals a personality of many facets. Feeling that my own remarks could not adequately describe Fred’s persona, I asked several colleagues to share some of their thoughts about him.

Henry Small, director of corporate research, ISI, recalled his association with Fred, especially his involvement in clustering techniques and science mapping. In fact, Fred helped organize an NSF-ISI sponsored conference on clustering held at ISI in September 1986:

Fred was very interested in getting a handle on all human knowledge. Some of his work, for example, on discovery and creativity, was quite original. From my view he was more a theorist rather than an empiricist. I remember him telling me that he had anticipated co-citation and some other techniques used here at ISI. On a personal level, he was quiet, and to many he may have appeared introverted. But he was like Derek Price in that he was inspirational and had the uncommon knack of bringing people together for a common goal.8
Since Robert Lindsay, here at the Mental Health Research Institute has already spoken about Fred and his connection with the World Brain concept. I won't repeat here his remarks included in my 1989 CC Essay about Fred, but I have included them in the written version of my talk:
I knew Fred for 30 years, having first met him about 1958. I wasn’t intimately involved with Fred’s work on the WorId Brain notion. However, I think that it was a guiding principle of his, rather than a specific project. A variety of things that he worked on were directed towards achieving information systems that would make information readily available to people who needed it. He worked on problems of computer-based matching systems and information retrieval, and the "small world" problem. He approached the World Brain notion indirectly through all his work. He had an enormous range of interests, and breadth of knowledge, and brought great energy and humanity to his work and to his personal relationships.
According to Wynne Chin, then one of his students and now at the University of Houston Department of Decision and Information Science, Fred was an excellent teacher:
I worked with quite a few professors in my years of graduate studies… [but Professor Kochen] was my first true mentor. With extreme patience and clarity, he asked penetrating questions about my research that would reflect his intellectual understanding… In many instances, it would [only] be months later that certain questions he continually raised finally made sense to me…[he] had developed an expertise in guiding a student's path towards "intellectual enlightenment."
Merrell Flood, now passed away, formerly University of Michigan professor of mathematical biology, fondly remembered Fred both in and out of academe:
For several years, while Fred was manager of a department at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Laboratory, I worked with him and his colleagues as a consultant. He generated ideas that kept us all excited and very busy, many of them well ahead of his time as we look back on them now. One project… was the pioneering investigation of automation possibilities for the Library of Congress. Fred continued an active and productive research and teaching career in library automation and library science until his death--a notable tendency of Fred’s to stay with an important basic problem… When Fred decided to return to academic life, it was my great good fortune to bring him to the Mental Health Research Institute…Systems Science Group. In addition to his own wide-ranging research and teaching efforts in several schools of the university at Arm Arbor, and his many external consulting and professional society activities, Fred partnered joint research efforts with Anatol Rapoport and Karl Deutsch and me, giving generously of his time and ideas on every occasion.9
Belver Griffith, College of Information Studies, Drexel University, Philadelphia, re-called Fred’s command of information:
My main memory of Fred Kochen was his optimism, openness, and far-ranging curiosity . . . Fred [was] always like a lad who knows that tomorrow is his Bar Mitzvah and knows that it will be a great one.... There was, however, very little that Fred did not understand and almost nothing that he was willing to dismiss out of hand. A rare combination to find in anyone--and one of such great service to his friends, colleagues, and professions. . . . [We] are grateful for .. his enduring vision and for the memory of a mind both deft and graceful.10
A brief search of the electronic ISI citation databases (Web of Science) indicates that he has been cited over 1000 times by about 500 different authors between 1973 to the present. There are many more that cited his work in the two decades earlier for which the SCI and SSCI are still only available in print. Within a year or so they too will be covered making the task easier. In any case, it will be a significant task worthy of a doctoral dissertation to classify the hundreds of papers and people affected by Fred. The best examples are my own publications.

Indeed, I explicitly referred to his work in over 25 of my own papers: Here is a partial printout of the titles based on a full-text Verity Search engine at Penn:

  • Manfred Kochen: In Memory of an Information Scientist Pioneer qua World Brain-ist
  • The Metaphor-Science Connection
  • The World Brain as seen by an Information Entrepreneur.
  • "It's a Small World After All"
  • A tribute to Derek John de Solla Price: A bold, iconoclastic historian of science
  • In tribute to Derek John de Solla Price: A Citation Analysis of Little Science, Big Science
  • Artificial Intelligence: Using computers to think about thinking. Part 1. Representing Knowledge
  • How to use Citation Analysis for faculty evaluation and when is it relevant? Part 1.
  • Belver C. Griffith on the Puzzling Possibilities of Derek Price's Scientometric Models
  • Meta-analysis and the Metamorphosis of the Scientific Literature Review
  • Creativity and Science. Part 2. The Process of Scientific Discovery
  • Classics and Citation Behavior Revisited
  • It is of some significance that the third listed essay is a reprint of a paper included in the volume Fred edited, "Information for Action".11 This paper traces my own involvement in the World Brain movement.
As I said from the outset, Fred Kochen’s work reflects the need to study citation behavior and the way it affects retrieval. We all need to be reminded how important it is that we acknowledge our intellectual debts. "When to Cite" was the theme of a paper I published a few years ago in the Library Quarterly.12 There are many aspects of this topic I did not cover, not the least of which are the ethical standards for citation behavior. This was the implicit theme of Fred's work. He realized that mere electronic access, without further refinement, would be a blessing but could also be a curse. It is not surprising that the influence of his paper is still being felt, as e.g. Steve Harter's paper on "Scholarly Communication and Electronic Journals.13 Barry Palevitz, a botanist science writer, quoted Fred in a 1997 commentary on "The ethics of citation -- A matter of science's family values."14 Since I do not have time to read you Fred's paper on acknowledgement of intellectual debt, I've created a short abstract:

Authors of scientific articles often read papers that fail to cite their prior work. A survey of university faculty shows the extent to which such opinions abound. If justified, they reflect non-use of bibliographic search methods or their inadequacy or minimal use of the result. He formulates a new kind of automated or semi-automated document-retrieval system likely to upgrade the scholarly quality of scientific work by improving the bibliographies included in manuscripts.

He then cataloged what he called inadequate citation behavior and the quality of references in published articles. He cites five reasons for the failure to cite relevant material:

  • no attempt is made to search -- reliance on memory.
  • literature was searched but not well enough; or the IR system used was not good enough.
  • relevant documents were available but not read or used.
  • items that should have been cited were retrieved and at least looked at but not cited because of an attention lapse or carelessness.
  • omitted deliberately, because the author did not deem it worthy of citing. did not understand it or its relevance, or for less honorable reasons.
  • We don't know how often references are omitted or limited by editors due to space constraints.

  • Closing

    Bernie Agranoff asked me to say something about Fred's vision of the future. I have already stated that he was part of that group which I have described tersely as "World Brainists." The best way that I could encapsulate a World Brainist's view of the future is to refer to a paper I wrote when I was a library science student at Columbia in 1953. In it I speculated on the library of the future, "The Informatorium". To reach library nirvana, The Informatorium would have to satisfy "the information requirements of a population that is highly intellectual and scientifically trained. By 2050 there would be a new Renaissance during which the population of the world will be thirsting for knowledge."

    The WWW is the technological marvel that has taken a giant step towards the Memex-World Brain-WISE-Informatorium vision of information nirvana. Were Fred alive today he would be consulting for companies like Hotbot, Yahoo, InfoSeek, etc., and he would be advising them how to deal with the problems of universal full-text searching. As long-time members of ASIS realize, designers of the search engines at these firms are in fact reinventing or rediscovering information retrieval. They are stumbling along by trial and error. In some cases, they are phenomenally successful -- in others they produce information overload migraine headaches.

    Fred, as the consummate mathematician would have understood and described the network of hyperlinks that constitute the internet. But he would also realize that without aposteriori human intelligence, the internet will remain at best a mixed blessing. Artificial intelligence will help but not suffice. Fred would recognize that the information profession will have an increasingly important educational role to play and information science researchers would have a new golden opportunity to make the World Brain a continuing source of newly minted information. The internet has made it practical for future citation index databases to generate annotated bibliographies and reviews containing contextual quotations based on autonomous citation indexing. To see how this works in the field of computer science just go to www.research/

    Future citation databases covering the literature back to the turn of the century will permit scholars to obtain historiographs on demand. It is already possible to use citation links, that is, references, to go back and forth from indexes to full-text journals . In the future, we will also have online access not only to most new books but also classical texts that now lie dormant in libraries. As the worldwide network of websites develops and as bandwidth increases exponentially, new generations will take for granted not only access to universal library catalogs, but access to the full-text of the books, articles, and manuscripts identified by those catalogs.

    Through a combination of commercial, cooperative, and other efforts, I am confident that Kochen's Brainist dream will become a reality in the lifetime of the students in this audience. I leave it to others to speculate how that will affect the scholarship and the human condition.


    1. back to text  Garfield E. "Citation behavior -- an aid or a hindrance to information retrieval? Current Contents No. 18, pages 3-8 (May 1, 1989). Reprinted in Essays of an Information Scientist, Volume 12. Philadelphia: ISI Press, pgs. 123-128 (1991)

    2. back to text  Garfield, E. "Manfred Kochen: In Memory of an Information Scientist Pioneer Qua World Brain-ist," Current Contents No. 25, pgs. 13-14 (June 19, 1989). Reprinted in Essays of an Information Scientist, Volume 12, pgs. 166-177 (1991).

    3. back to text  Kochen M. "How well do we acknowledge intellectual debt?" Journal of Documentation 43:54- 64 (1987). Reprinted in Essays of an Information Scientist, Volume 12, pgs. 170-177 (1991).

    4. back to text  Kochen, M. "WISE: a whole information synthesis and encyclopaedia," Journal of Documentation 28:322-43 (1972).

    5. back to text  Garfield, E. "The World Brain as Seen by an information engineer," Current Contents No. 48, pgs.5-12 (November 29, 1976). Reprinted in Essays of an Information Scientist, Volume 2, pgs. 638-639. Philadelphia: ISI Press (1977).

    6. back to text  Garfield, E. "Automatic Indexing and the Linguistic Connection," Current Contents No. 8, pgs. , (February 23, 1981). Reprinted in Essays of an Information Scientist, Volume 5, pages 31-38, Philadelphia: ISI Press (1983).

    7. back to text  Kochen, M. Candidate's mission statement for ASIS president, 1986. P. 3; 8. (Ballot).

    8. back to text  Small, H. Personal Communication. May 3, 1989.

    9. back to text  Flood, M. Personal communication, May 12, 1989.

    10.back to text  Gordon M, Blair, D, and Lindsay, R. "Manfred Kochen: 1928-1989. Remembrances of a scholar and a gentle man -- in memoriam," Journal of the America Society for Information Science, 40(4):223-5 (July 1989).

    11.back to text  Kochen, M. Information for Action. New York: Academic Press, pages 155-60 (1975).

    12.back to text  Garfield, E. "When to Cite," Library Quarterly, 66:(4): 449-458 (October, 1996).

    13.back to text  Harter, SP. "Scholarly communication and electronic journals: an impact study," Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 49(6):50716 (May 1, 1998).

    14.back to text  Palevitz, BA. "The ethics of citation: a matter of science's family values," The Scientist, 11(12):8 (June 9, 1997).

    15.back to text  Lawrence, S., Giles, C.L., Bollacker, K. "Digital Libraries and Autonomous Citation Indexing," Computer 32(6):67-71 (June, 1999)