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Magazines > Information Today > July/August 2004
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Information Today

Vol. 21 No. 7 — July/August 2004

NewsBreak Update
News About SLA, ProQuest, Search Technologies, and More
By Paula Hane

Attending the SLA Annual Conference while helping record the event on Information Today, Inc.'s Live from Nashville blog (http://www.infotodayblog.com) was both exhausting and exhilarating. It was great to experience the networking, sessions, exhibit hall, and parties, but after 5 days of running nonstop, early morning until late at night (I didn't want to miss out on those division open houses), I was ready to come home. Reflecting on the event, I was struck by several technology issues and by how much we now take for granted.

On a daily basis, my Internet connection and telephone keep me in touch with people and information. So while traveling and planning to upload content daily to our blog, I expected that my cell phone and the free high-speed Internet connection in the CyberCafe would keep me working efficiently. We bloggers also planned to keep in touch by phone, updating each other on who was covering what.

First, my new tri-band cell phone—on a national digital GSM network with no roaming charges—didn't work at all in the exhibit hall or from most locations in the conference center. However, it did work from my hotel room. Another blogger with a different cell provider actually had to walk outside to get a phone signal. So much for keeping in touch. And while some folks were able to connect easily to the wireless Internet in the CyberCafe, I couldn't get mine configured correctly. So I had to rely on access to one of two wired network connections with my laptop, which sometimes involved a long wait. Unfortunately, I hadn't made arrangements for a backup dial-up connection.

So while blogging didn't go as smoothly for me as I'd hoped, we still had a great time providing the context and flavor of the event for our readers. The photos were especially fun. Thanks to many of you who took the time to give us feedback.

News from SLA

I actually thought there would be more big announcements from the SLA conference. Many of the exhibitors were just highlighting products they had previously unveiled, such as DialogLink 4.0. A few were giving previews of forthcoming availability, such as ProQuest's new interface, which will come out this summer, and the new Thomson Pharma, due to launch at the end of this year. Here's a quick overview of some news announced during the event:

  • Nerac launched TOC Journal Watch Plus, a single-point solution for tracking and accessing documents from more than 21,000 journals.
  • LexisNexis announced that it will stream access to XML news content into Market360, Biz360's market-intelligence application.
  • Open Text released version 10 of Livelink Collections Server, a tool that provides a single, secure repository for libraries to manage large, complex documents and collections with dense subject matter and unique terminology.
  • Thomson upgraded ISI Web of Knowledge to version 3 and Web of Science to version 7. Improvements include personalization, better search tools, a more intuitive interface, a new journal analysis tool, and increased linking power.
  • Inmagic announced that new partner Visard Solutions, Inc., a Montreal-based document-management and -service provider, will supply Inmagic Content Management Solutions (in French and English) to replace the aging Edibase product line.
  • Elsevier announced the addition of the Cell Press collection (nine journals) and 30 years of backfiles to its ScienceDirect electronic platform.

Busy Times at ProQuest

Earlier, I mentioned ProQuest's new interface, due to launch this summer. This updated version of the ProQuest service will include ProQuest Smart Search, which the company says gives users suggestions for enhanced searching, and several new e-mail options for sending articles and marked lists. The new interface will be available for use on every proprietary ProQuest product. A demonstration of the new interface and complete descriptions and guides of its features will be available soon on the ProQuest Information and Learning Web site.

Not only has ProQuest been busy with the upgrade, it also announced a number of partnerships and acquisitions over the last several months. In early June, it acquired the Nineteenth Century Short-Title Catalogue List (NSTC), a well-known bibliographic database that catalogs the 19th-century holdings of eight top research libraries. NSTC was formerly owned and maintained by ABC-CLIO, which moved the collection from multiple CD-ROMs and integrated it so users could search across the series on the Web. ProQuest plans to make NSTC the "bibliographic cornerstone" of its digital publishing efforts for 19th-century content. ProQuest has already digitized a significant volume of 19th-century publications and has extensive microform holdings, including its Nineteenth Century General Collection, published in cooperation with The British Library.

In mid-June, the company acquired the assets of Axiom Press, Inc., publisher and distributor of CultureGrams, a cultural-reference product for education, government, and nonprofit users. The product line, which was developed at Brigham Young University in 1974, is available in print and online. Its information complements other ProQuest K-12 content.

Finally, ProQuest launched a new Web site (http://www.proquestk12.com) for its K-12 products that consolidates and replaces its existing K-12 sites. The easy-to-navigate site provides support and news as well as one-stop shopping for all eLibrary and SIRS products.

ProQuest Information and Learning is a business unit of ProQuest Co., which was recently named one of the 100 fastest-growing technology companies in the U.S. by Business 2.0.

Newspaper Update

In a January NewsBreak, Barbara Quint reported on NewspaperDirect's digital newspaper service for public libraries. The resource is now available for academic libraries as well. The Ohio University Libraries system is offering the print version, and the online version is being tested at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. This service enables libraries at colleges and universities to provide students and faculty members with same-day editions of out-of-state and international newspapers.

Search Engine Update

Search continues to be a hot area of development from all angles: enhancements to general Web search engines, new engines, desktop search, enterprise search, and specialty engines. Google, Yahoo!, Ask Jeeves, Microsoft, and a host of smaller players continue to add new features, copy others' features, and generally jockey for position in the race for users and advertisers.

Yahoo! recently beefed up its e-mail service in response to Google's testing of its new Gmail, which is aimed at broadening the company's business. Yahoo! has increased its free storage from 4 to 100 megabytes, added new features, and improved the text-search function.

In SearchDay, Gary Price reviewed Seruku, a new toolbar-based application that creates a personal Web archive. Seruku helps you find and access any and all Web pages that have appeared in your browser. It automatically makes a copy of pages you've viewed, stores the copy locally, indexes the content, and allows you to keyword-search the full text of this material.

At press time, Ask Jeeves introduced a number of new Smart Search features and upgraded Ask.com with Binoculars, a patent-pending site-preview tool. Smart Search, which debuted in spring 2003, lets you get more effective search results by helping to narrow, broaden, or more directly answer queries. Users can ask for "smart" responses to weather, stock, picture, and product questions. New Smart Search features include movies (synopses, reviews, and local showtimes), FedEx and UPS tracking, people search, sports, and even a Do Not Call Registry. Other search engines, like Google and Yahoo!, also offer similar shortcuts for certain kinds of searches.

The new Binoculars feature lets users evaluate results without jumping back and forth between them and the Ask Jeeves results page. A small binoculars icon appears next to most search results. When the cursor is moved over the icon, a small window appears with an image of the results page. The company says an independent study concluded that this tool reduced the number of clicks required to find the most relevant results by up to 70 percent.

Specialized Search Engines

There's a new player in the arena of specialty engines that search specific slices of content. Find.com, a newly formed venture of FIND/SVP, Empire Media, and TripleHop Technologies, is a publicly accessible engine specifically created with the business user's information needs in mind. Find.com searches for documents from the major consumer search engines and combines them with results from more than 3,000 free, business-specific Web sites. It also provides access to premium business-research content that's generally made available on a pay-per-document basis.

Find.com's search engine is based on MatchPoint, TripleHop's enterprise search software. TripleHop's technologies feature semantic and statistical analysis, extraction and categorization, result clustering, and relevance ranking. Its customers include CNN, USA TODAY, Novartis, and Orbitz.

FIND/SVP picked the business and premium content sites for Find.com, including its own fee-based offerings. FIND/
SVP is a knowledge services company that offers custom business intelligence, advisory, and consulting solutions. Other content providers represent a fairly eclectic mix, including Frost & Sullivan, BNET, Gallup, and ChoicePoint. Find.com also offers NetContent, a resource that provides electronic news feeds and newsletters from nearly 2,000 sources, such as magazines, professional journals, newspapers, and online publications.

In case you missed the news, an alliance of U.S. federal government agencies has launched Science.gov 2.0, an upgrade to the gateway for science and technology information from across federal government organizations. The new site offers additional content, technological enhancements, and a newly developed relevancy-ranking technology. Science.gov 2.0 lets users search across 30 databases from 12 agencies and across 1,700 Web sites. That's 47 million pages, with results presented in relevancy-ranked order.

Desktop Search

Keep your eyes open for new desktop search products. Gary Price, who with Barbara Quint reported in March on the new HotBot DeskTop, says, "Desktop search is all the rage these days." Google is reportedly preparing to introduce a file- and text-search tool for PCs, and Microsoft is working on improved desktop searching technology. Copernic says it will have a product available by September.

On ResourceShelf.com, Price recently discussed blinkx, a new Web, news, and desktop search application that I hadn't heard about. According to information on the company site, blinkx is a free Windows application that "is able to understand and link to relevant information anywhere and in any format: on the Web, in the news, or on the desktop—automatically, accurately, and quickly."

Ask Jeeves recently announced it has acquired Tukaroo, Inc., a San Jose, Calif.-based desktop search technology company that was incorporated in 2003 and has no products out yet. Steve Berkowitz, Ask Jeeves' CEO, said, "We expect that Tukaroo's desktop search and information management capabilities will enable Ask Jeeves to deliver a seamless, end-to-end search experience across the desktop and the Internet."

Enterprise Search

Enterprise search continues to be one of the hottest areas for ongoing development and one of the busiest for news. It seems as if the companies planned their recent major product announcements for the same time period.

Copernic introduced Copernic Enterprise Search version 3.0, which features extended connectivity, increased security, and enhanced usability. The company says that its differentiators in the marketplace are the product's simple deployment, power and scalability, security, adherence to industry standards, and low cost per user. Copernic targets the needs of the small-to-medium-sized enterprise and departments of larger enterprises. The company offers the software as a free download for searches of up to 5,000 documents. [Note: You can try Copernic and several other well-known engines at Information Today, Inc.'s Enterprise Search Center (http://www.enterprisesearchcenter.com).]

Fast Search and Transfer (FAST) launched FAST Marketrac, an enterprise software solution that gathers, analyzes, and communicates critical market intelligence from multiple, disparate sources throughout an enterprise and the Web. FAST Marketrac is the first of several planned "search-derivative applications" based on the FAST ESP platform, which addresses specific business problems.

FAST Marketrac not only accesses both internal and external information sources but also provides tools to analyze the content. In addition, it allows users to perform market-sentiment analytics. Through this analysis, organizations can gauge the public sentiment of the collected data using a graphical interface. It measures positive, negative, or neutral sentiments or attitudes; exposure or traffic; and satisfaction levels. Market-sentiment analytics can be useful for marketing, brand management, politics, and governmental assessments of national security threats.

In other news, Recommind introduced version 3.0 of its MindServer enterprise search platform. The new text-management system has been optimized for implementation by Recommind's system integrator and OEM partners. MindServer 3.0 offers both ease of integration (within portals, document and content management systems, databases, and other text sources) and deployment. It now has both pre-built connectors and pre-built user interfaces for different applications.

Google upgraded its Google Search Appliance, an integrated hardware/software product for use by corporations, universities, and government agencies to search their intranets and public Web sites.

Another company to watch is Endeca, which recently announced that it had completed a $15 million round of financing that "will be used to accelerate the company's growth in new geographical and select vertical markets and to expand and enhance Endeca's product and service offerings." The organization reported its most successful quarter to date and many new customer wins, including some competitive displacements.

Search technology developments aren't limited to text. Convera, a provider of search and categorization software, launched Screening Room 3.0, video search technology with new enterprise-security features. Used within government and commercial enterprises for searching video libraries, Screening Room 3.0 is an optional component to Convera's RetrievalWare enterprise search platform, which searches text and audio data.

For the latest industry news, check http://www.infotoday.com every Monday morning. An easier option is to sign up for our free weekly e-mail newsletter, NewsLink, which provides abstracts and links to the stories we post.

 

Links

http://il.proquest.com/pqnext/newmain.shtml

http://www.proquestcompany.com

http://www.infotoday.com/newsbreaks/nb040112-1.shtml
(NewspaperDirect NewsBreak)

http://mail.yahoo.com

http://www.infotoday.com/newsbreaks/nb040405-1.shtml
(Gmail NewsBreak)

http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/3362761

http://www.seruku.com

http://www.ask.com

http://www.find.com

http://www.findsvp.com

http://www.triplehop.com

http://www.infotoday.com/newsbreaks/nb040524-1.shtml
(Science.gov 2.0 NewsBreak)

http://www.infotoday.com/newsbreaks/nb040322-1.shtml
(HotBot NewsBreak)

http://www.resourceshelf.com

http://www.blinkx.com

http://www.infotoday.com/newsbreaks/nb040614-2.shtml
(Copernic NewsBreak)

http://www.infotoday.com/newsbreaks/nb040621-2.shtml
(FAST Marketrac NewsBreak)


Paula J. Hane is Information Today, Inc.'s news bureau chief and editor of NewsBreaks. Her e-mail address is phane@infotoday.com.
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