2008 February | Federated Search BlogFederated Search

Archive for February, 2008

29
Feb

In November 2006, the National Agricultural Library, one of four U.S. national libraries and stewards of one of the world’s largest agricultural information collections, hosted a NISO conference. Normally, I wouldn’t bore you with a post about a conference over a year old, but in this one, the list of vendors whose staffs delivered presentations reads like a Who’s Who in federated search.

NISO (National Information Standards Organization) is a standards body, accredited by ANSI, that develops, publishes, and maintains standards related to digital information management. Most well known of the NISO standards are ANSI/NISO Z39.2, the basis for the MARC record, ANSI/NISO Z39.2, the ISSN standard for serial numbering, and ANSI/NISO Z39.50, the client/server protocol for information retrieval. NISO also has sponsored a Metasearch Initiative. The Initiative page explains its aim and groundwork laid:

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27
Feb

[ This post is authored by David Dorman, US Marketing Manager for Index Data. David responded to an email I sent to marketing contacts at commercial and open source providers of federated search products and services asking them to engage in my campaign to create publicly accessible demo applications with identical connectors to facilitate customer evaluation of offerings. With David’s permission I am publishing his response in its entirety. I will post my response to his letter in the near future. David’s reference in the first paragraph to the “Metasearch Smackdown” is to this Library Journal blog post by Roy Tennant. David can be reached through the contact information for Index Data provided in this blog’s vendor information page. ]

Sol,

I’ve looked over the points of the metasearch comparison campaign and it seems like something Index Data would like to explore participating in. Have the databases been selected yet? I do, however, have some reservations about two assumptions that you and Roy seem to be making with the Metasearch Smackdown idea.

1. One is that each vendor has a “product” that can be compared to all the other vendor’s “products.”

This is not a valid assumption for Index Data’s metasearch offerings. It is true that our basic MasterKey hosted service is a product that can be compared to the other vendors offerings. However, Index Data offers to customize or extend the functionality of the MasterKey interface to meet any clients requirements if MasterKey does not already meet them. This business practice will not be apparent in any use test.

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25
Feb

[ Editor’s note: While I (Sol) am the primary author of this blog, Abe does occasionally post. As founder, President, and CTO of Deep Web Technologies, and a pioneer in developing web-based information retrieval, Abe’s posts are very insightful, coming from a great depth of understanding of the federated search industry. Deep Web Technologies, as many of you know, sponsors this blog. You can read more about that in the About page. As editor of the blog I have to walk the fine line of publishing posts that serve my sponsor while not having the blog become a soapbox for Deep Web. What seems fair to me, and I invite discussion, is to permit “soapbox” posts from any vendor of federated search (commercial or otherwise) as long as the post is not primarily self-serving, is of interest and value to the entire federated search community, and is respectful of others. I also welcome guest posts from librarians, bloggers, and others who have a viewpoint to share. Guest posts can question vendor actions, they can raise concerns, they can express opinions, and they don’t have to be particularly nice, but they don’t get to be insulting.

Abe’s post below is an example of a soapbox post that provides value to readers and promotes a couple of presentations that Abe will be giving in May. Contact me at the email address in the About page to discuss your idea for a post. ]

There has been a lot of discussion in recent posts on this blog, especially in Saturday’s CILIP post, and in the earlier post on Is federated search as bad as librarians think? on whether federated search should be used by students and researchers or whether these students would be better off searching information sources directly. I agree with the comments that if there is a researcher who knows which two or three information sources to search then federated search doesn’t provide value to this researcher and he/she should just search these sources directly. However, for the large number of students and researchers who have access to dozens, perhaps hundreds of information sources, and don’t know where the “gem” of an article might be found then federated search is an indispensable tool.

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23
Feb

CILIP (the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals), recently published an article on their web-site, Recent developments in federated searching. The article, authored by Penny Bailey, ILS professional and Managing Director of Bailey Solutions, reports on new developments in search in the UK; a good number of those developments involve federated search.

Here are some of the interesting points in the excellent article:

Frank Cervone, whose work I’ve covered before on this blog, made the following observation. (Quote is from Bailey):

Cervone portrayed federated search as a ‘shrinking world’ ? in which library system vendors, firstly, are merging but, secondly, are integrating with the same few federated search engine tools (Encore, WebFeat, Primo and Vivisimo).

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21
Feb

Information Today’s upcoming Computers in Libraries 2008 conference (April 7-9 with pre- and post-conference workshops outside of those dates) looks like it will be of great interest to all parties interested in federated search. Just from browsing the presentation abstracts and exhibitor listings I see that this conference will have a healthy presence of federated search vendors and other companies that incorporate federated search as a part of their business.

The exhibitor list includes several well-known federated search vendors: Deep Web Technologies, ExLibris, Innovative Interfaces, and Serials Solutions. Other vendors who include federated search as part of their products (e.g. publishers) will be present as well.

A number of the presentations will be of interest to the federated search community, including a number that are not directly about federated search. Some examples:

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19
Feb

Paula Hane, Information Today, Inc.’s news bureau chief and editor of NewsBreaks, published a nice in-depth article about the acquisition of WebFeat by ProQuest. Aside from the ProQuest press release, Library Journal’s coverage of the story, and my own article, there hasn’t been tremendous coverage of the acquisition. Hane’s article adds some detail. Also, Carl Grant, President of CARE Affiliates, expresses his view of the acquisition in light of the OpenTranslators partnership that involves WebFeat, CARE, and Index Data.

Of particular interest, Hane reported the reactions of a number of people who were knowledgeable about the federated search industry, including Marshall Breeding, Frank Cervone, Cheryl LaGuardia, and myself. The four viewpoints (at the end of the article) of what the acquisition means for the industry are quite valuable.

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16
Feb

Here’s a good blog post about perception of federated search from students, faculty, and librarians. Yes, this blog post is a year old but its message is timeless and the issue is well explained, so it’s definitely worth a read.

The concern is quality of search results, which I’ve discussed in my quality of search results primer, in my commentary on the study of undergraduates and federated search at Brigham Young, in my post about the trouble with general search engines, and in other places. The argument is that students can search sources more effectively if they use the search interface provided by the source. This is true. But the real question is, “What will students actually do?” Students, in general, don’t seem to be sufficiently motivated to learn how to use all of the powerful features available in the advanced search page of a particular vendor. They certainly won’t learn how to search a number of publisher’s applications, each with its own quirks. And, I would bet that most students don’t even know what resources are available to search individually.

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14
Feb

ProQuest announced today that it has acquired WebFeat. Library Journal interviewed Serials Solutions general manager Jane Burke about the acquisition. Serials Solutions was acquired by ProQuest several years ago. Consolidation has occurred in the federated search industry.

Is there a story behind the story? I can only speculate, and I will — ProQuest bought WebFeat for its customer base. ProQuest already has federated search offerings through its business unit, Serials Solutions. Both WebFeat and Serials Solutions are known for their low-cost offerings and business models based on providing federated search as a service. WebFeat has sold federated search solutions to consortia (Serials Solutions hasn’t) and WebFeat has a large number of customers in that market. More customers means more service to sell. At one time Serials Solutions licensed their connectors from WebFeat. They no longer do. Plus, the press release stated that WebFeat founder and CEO Todd Miller would only be remaining with WebFeat briefly, as a consultant. So, this doesn’t strike me as a technology play even though Burke, in her interview with Library Journal, mentions a couple of WebFeat’s features that would complement Serials Solutions’ 360 Search.

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13
Feb

99 deep web resources

Author: Sol

CollegeDegree.com has just produced a nice resource, 99 Resources to Research & Mine the Invisible Web. It’s a list of deep web search engines, databases, catalogs, directories, and social media sites. At the bottom of the list are references to a number of guides about the deep web. The deep web consists of content that usually lives in a database, is accessed by humans through web forms, by federated search engines with specialized knowledge of deep web sources, and is not easily accessible to Google and other web crawlers.

I’ve added this document to the resources page.

This “99 resources” guide is definitely worth a bookmark.

12
Feb

MuseGlobal CEO Kate Noerr has launched a new blog: MUSEings. Noerr declares that, through the blog, she “muses on key trends in the content industry and how Muse’s federated content integration technology helps leading companies make the most of them.”

Noerr’s blog is off to a good start with an interesting first post, Content Federation and Muse: Finally the World Gets It. What most caught my attention was Noerr’s writing about how MuseGlobal’s integration technology allows for creation of feeds from a wide variety of content of different types. Readers of the Federated Search blog may see the power of this technology in light of my recent article, From content to content services, where I review a compelling article from John Blossom, President of Shore Communications, on just this subject. The blog is light on postings and I hope that will change.

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