The May/June edition of D-Lib Magazine has an interesting article about a prototype tool that helps writers to find relevant content and references by watching what they type and performing searches based on the context of their writing.
The article’s abstract gives the motivation and a general description of the tool:
Information awareness is distinct from explicit information seeking, such as searching. In this article we describe an information awareness tool that supports text composition by providing awareness of relevant content and references proactively and non-intrusively. As a user composes text, the tool automatically searches multiple sources, retrieves results, and displays links to the results. A working prototype of the tool has been implemented using Web 2.0 and Digital Library 2.0 technologies, and is flexible and highly configurable for both Web search engines and deep web targets.
This is an innovative tool, especially for all of those college students who need to write research papers and don’t enjoy using the federated search applications available to them. While this particular tool isn’t specific to federated search, the more scholarly the writing, the more value there is to federating deep web sources.
The innovative part, of course, isn’t performing the search. It’s the construction of the search. How does the Content Awareness Tool (CAT) create searches from user text?
While I like this idea of this and other JITTR (just in time text retrieval) tools, I do think that there’s a chicken-and-egg problem here. If a student is staring at a blank document and doesn’t know where to start then how does he or she get ideas from the tool? This problem aside I imagine that students will really like this interesting twist on search. They don’t have to create queries and they don’t have to select sources. Interesting information just comes to them.
Tags: federated search