Quanta is conceived of as a novel database for a visual internet. Developed as a prototype in 2007, this system originally explored the notion of application-style, smooth navigational interfaces and data visualizations for semantic content on the web.

How to cite this work:
2007, Hoetzlein, Rama. “The Organization of Human Knowledge: Systems for Interdisciplinary Research”. Masters Thesis. Media Arts and Technology Program, University of California Santa Barbara.

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As of 2014, develop of Quanta continues as a new commercial entity. Quanta will always offer a fully featured, free version of the system supporting up to 10,000 objects, suitable for individual collections, and many academic and university research projects. We hope to offer this, and commercial options soon, with online interaction and support for large data sets.


Based on interest, the conceptual and theoretical chapters of the original thesis work “The Organization of Human Knowledge: Systems for Interdisciplinary Research” are provided here slightly abridged, and published online for the first time:

 Ch 1. Introduction and Summary of Contributions

 Ch 2. Background and Context

 Ch 3. Integrative Strategies

 Ch 4. Databases and Systems

 Ch 6. Ontology and Classification

 Ch 7. Knowledge Visualization


Knowledge organization is the problem of arranging and classifying what we collectively know as a society in ways that can be easily understood and communicated to others. The issues addressed in this thesis include the representation and storage of knowledge, semiotics, ontology, classification, systems for knowledge organization, and the visualization and aesthetics of knowledge systems. The Quanta software system is presented as a generic framework for the integrated storage, organization and visualization of human knowledge in interdisciplinary contexts.

Novel contributions are made to both technical and conceptual aspects of knowledge organization. Technical contributions include a hypergraph structure for the storage and efficient representation of knowledge, comparative zoomable timelines for the visualization of events in time, circle packing with dynamic loading to visualize trees, and a distributed architecture and protocol for social knowledge systems. Conceptual contributions include a new measure of meaning in data systems, the data-semantic ratio, an analysis of the relationship between the semiotic triangle and the datainformation-knowledge triangle, and motivations for knowledge visualization as a field of study.

Topics on the philosophical, social and technical aspects of knowledge organization are considered in historical context with an emphasis on interdisciplinarity.

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