Over the past few years, the world has seen a growing interest in the Internet. E-mail initiated this interest and was the biggest traffic generator for several years. As the Internet grew in popularity, other tools emerged: ftp, gopher, archie, and the World-Wide Web. Connectivity to the Internet blossomed from a few computer specialists at research institutions to include businesses, schools, and home users. At the same time, the ability to create, store, and view multimedia information became widespread. Today, we see a proliferation of sites storing and distributing multimedia information on an ever-increasing range of topics to an exploding number of users.

This thesis describes the UNITE project which provides browsing and search of taxonomically indexed resources in a wide range of media types (text, images, hypercard stacks, etc.). The server provides remote access to any taxonomically structured domain and supports mirroring, which helps distribute the client load, and enables the client to try alternative servers if its first choice is unavailable.

Users are active participants in the project. Through a review mechanism, they can contribute new resources to the database and provide feedback through our comments page. These feedbacks allowed us to research and develop new ways to browse available resources. These efforts in designing the UNITE system indicated that users initially found hierarchical browsing structures to be an easy way to locate information. As users evaluated the browsing mechanism they became familiar with available resources. With this familiarity of the information domain also came a desire to more precisely focus their queries.