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Wide Area Information Servers: An Executive Information System for Unstructured Files

Brewster Kahle (Project Leader for Wide Area Information Servers at Thinking Machines Corporation, 245 First Street, Cambridge, MA)
Harry Morris (Scientist on the Wide Area Information Servers (WAIS) project team)
Franklin Davis (Project manager in the Advanced Information Systems Group at Thinking Machines)
Kevin Tiene (Computer scientist in the Advanced Technology Group at Apple Computer, Inc. 20525 Mariani Blvd., Cupertino, CA)
Clare Hart (Special Projects Manager for Dow Jones Information Services' Advanced Systems Group, 5918 Red Coat Lane, West Bloomfield, Ml)
Robin Palmer (Senior Manager at Peat Marwick, 50 W. San Fernando Street, Suite 1200, San Jose, CA)

Internet Research

ISSN: 1066-2243

Article publication date: 1 January 1992



In this paper we present a corporate information system for untrained users to search gigabytes of unformatted data using quasi‐natural language and relevance feedback queries. The data can reside on distributed servers anywhere on a wide area network, giving the users access to personal, corporate, and published information from a single interface. Effective queries can be turned into profiles, allowing the system to automatically alert the user when new data are available. The system was tested by twenty executive users located in six cities. Our primary goal in building the system was to determine if the technology and infrastructure existed to make end‐user searching of unstructured information profitable. We found that effective search and user interface technologies for end‐users are available, but network technologies are still a limiting cost factor. As a result of the experiment, we are continuing the development of the system. This article will describe the overall system architecture, the implemented subset, and the lessons learned.


Kahle, B., Morris, H., Davis, F., Tiene, K., Hart, C. and Palmer, R. (1992), "Wide Area Information Servers: An Executive Information System for Unstructured Files", Internet Research, Vol. 2 No. 1, pp. 59-68.




Copyright © 1992, MCB UP Limited

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