News About Organizational
Tools, the Content Industry, and More
By Paula Hane
It's spring-cleaning time in my house. Time to tackle those dirty blinds,
fan blades, and corners with dead bugsthe things we miss on a regular
basis. But it's my office that's most crying out for a thorough cleanup and
complete reorganization. I desperately need to toss old papers, sort through
magazines, and organize the stuff I want to keep. With this weighing on my
mind, it was no surprise that announcements of new organizational tools seemed
to jump out from the many press releases flooding my in box.
Personal information managers (PIMs) have been around since the 1980s and
are still popular. Now, however, applications that aren't labeled specifically
as PIMs often help keep users' digital houses in order. For example, I use
Microsoft Outlook as my personal manager for time, tasks, and correspondence,
but I don't yet have a good way to organize and access related information
across applications and data types.
MicroLogic's Info Select PIM has been helping users manage their information
since 1986. This is amazing longevity. The company has just released Info Select
8, a new version that helps users manage random and structured data. According
to a company representative, Info Select provides e-mail, word processing,
image editing, collaboration, database functionality, and more, with an extremely
fast search engine at its core. It lets users manage all their information
in one place and keep related information together in the form of notes, categories,
images, databases, e-mails, schedules, contacts, ideas, or plans. Info Select
has previously won two PC Magazine Editor's Choice Awards, a Perfect
Report Card from PC World, and other acclaim. I haven't had a chance
to try Info Select yet, but it could prove to be my new electronic clutter
Saving and organizing Internet/Web information is the focus of Onfolio, a
product that was just launched by a start-up company of the same name. This
new PC application enables users to collect, organize, and share information
they find while searching the Internet. Tightly integrated with Microsoft Internet
Explorer, Onfolio provides tools for collecting links, snippets of text, documents,
and full pages. From within the browser, users can then organize the captured
items, add comments, and share the content through e-mail, reports, documents,
and Web sites.
The company says that the release of Onfolio marks the emergence of search
information managers, a new category of productivity tools that complement
search engines and browsers. A free, fully functional 30-day trial version
of Onfolio can be downloaded at http://www.onfolio.com. The product just launched
at press time, so I haven't tested it yet. So many interesting tools, so little
time. (But I should have more time once I get myself organized.)
Updating previous coverage, HighBeam Research, a company that emphasizes
the value of the research/organizational tools it offers in its online research
service for individuals, announced that it took only 20 days from the January
launch of its new research service (see
http://www.infotoday.com/newsbreaks/nb040126-1.shtml) to acquire more than
100,000 individual users as HighBeam basic members. The company also said the
number of paying
full members is now more than 40,000.
Patrick Spain, founder and CEO of HighBeam Research, was obviously pleased
with the speedy customer acquisition and the validation of the company's strategies. "Just
as we offer all visitors a portion of a HighBeam eLibrary article at no charge
to show the value of the paid membership that includes full-text articles,
we have successfully applied this proven business model to research tools through
the concept of a free membership. Acquiring more than 100,000 basic members
in 20 days proves that researchers are willing to register for access to these
Cuadra Enhances Its STAR
Speaking of companies with longevity in information management, Cuadra Associates,
a firm that was founded in 1978 and is familiar in library and records management
circles, has introduced a new version of its customizable STAR information
management software. The 3.9 release provides a number of enhancements to its
core technology, Windows-based client interface, and browser-based system management
interface. STAR now handles encryption for safe communications over the Internet
from multiple locations.
Cuadra offers a number of STAR product families, including applications for
collection management, competitive intelligence, knowledge management, library
automation, records management, and vocabulary control.
Search Engine Wars Heat Up
Given the eyeballs and advertising dollars at stake, the turf battle among
Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, and others has intensified and shows no signs of
a cool-down. Analysts at Outsell, Inc. called it a "slugfest" with "a remarkable
sequence of bobs, weaves, jabs, and misses...." Here's a quick rundown of a
few recent events. First, Yahoo! dumped Google as its search provider and began
using its own search engine technology platform. Then, Google announced its
expansion to 6 billion documents.
Not to be outdone, Yahoo! introduced an aggressive new content acquisition
program (CAP) that offers enhanced coverage to both commercial (paid inclusion)
and noncommercial (nonpaying) data sources. (See Barbara Quint's NewsBreak
at http://www.infotoday.com/newsbreaks/nb040308-1.shtml.) Significantly, CAP
promises to reveal major new content sources from the invisible Web. Program
participants include the Library of Congress, The New York Public Library,
National Public Radio, and the National Science Digital Library.
Quint wonders whether the invisible sources being included will actually
remain invisible to users simply because they can't be easily located within
Yahoo!. She says, "If the data from the new sources just gets thrown into the
ocean of Web entries, never to rise again, addition of the new content may
serve neither users nor Yahoo!'s marketing goals." It will certainly be interesting
to see how this develops and if/when Google and others jump in with additional
invisible or deep Web content.
Meanwhile, Google does not offer paid inclusion, claiming that it skews search
results. In addition, Ask Jeeves just stopped accepting paid inclusion for
its search algorithm and announced plans to buy Interactive Search Holdings,
which includes iWon, Excite, MyWay, and other sites.
In SearchDay, Chris Sherman pointed out some potential disclosure issues
with Yahoo!'s paid inclusion: "There's no way for a searcher to easily distinguish
between paid inclusion results and content that Yahoo!'s crawler found on its
own. And there's no indication that Yahoo! gets paid when a searcher clicks
on a paid inclusion link." My overall concern is that Google, Yahoo!, and the
others seem to concentrate on e-commerce initiatives and revenue generation
at the expense of the real needs of users (which isn't surprising, I guess).
Yahoo! also debuted its new Yahoo! SmartView technology on Yahoo! Maps. This
service displays local information pulled from the company's network of content
sources, such as yellow pages and travel resources. Users can specify an address
and then customize a map display with local points of interest and attractions,
including restaurants, hotels, movie theaters, museums, parks, and ATMs. Once
displayed on the map, you can find expanded information, including an address
and phone number, pricing, user ratings (for hotels), Web site address, and
driving directions, by clicking on the identified icon. It's a nifty implementation,
though in my testing it offered incomplete information for the area I selected.
Still, this technology illustrates two trends that I think will be apparent
in future search developments: visualization interfaces and the importance
of finding localized information.
[Note: At press time, Google announced the integration of local search
results into Google.com with the availability of the new Google Local, a service
that provides neighborhood business listings, maps, directions, and useful
Desktop Search Update
In December, I reported on the launch of Grokker2, an impressive desktop
search tool from Groxis that provides a visual context for accessing search
engines and content sources (http://www.infotoday.com/newsbreaks/nb031222-3.shtml).
At that time, Grokker2 had built-in plug-ins for searching the Web, searching
for products through Amazon.com, and mapping a hard drive or any drive over
a shared network. Grokker's Web search module let users search AltaVista, MSN,
WiseNut, Fast, Yahoo!, and Teoma all at once.
Recently, Groxis released a free beta version of its long-anticipated Google
plug-in. The company also launched Grokker SDK, a software development kit
that enables developers to quickly create their own custom plug-ins to virtually
any content feed or data source available on a network.
In a recent announcement, R. J. Pittman, CEO and co-founder of Groxis, gave
a hint of what's coming next: "Grokker has taken another step forward in its
ongoing mission to become the first true desktop search application framework
for unlimited, personal data-mining power. Over the coming months, Grokker2
will deliver unprecedented access to news feeds, blogs, social networks, e-commerce,
and special interest research and content sources from around the globe."
Mapping my hard drive with Grokker could be the help my messy office and
electronic files need. Grokker2 organizes and provides a visual map of search
results, making it easy to discover, explore, and organize the informationyet
another tool for me to test.
Update on RLG Project
Last fall, Barbara Quint reported on the launch of the first phase of RLG's
RedLightGreen project, which opened a Web-based version of the RLG Union Catalog
that's optimized for undergraduates (http://www.infotoday.com/newsbreaks/nb031013-2.shtml).
Now, the pilot is moving into its second phase. More of RLG's member institutions
are joining the effort to test and promote awareness of this resource. Current
partners include Columbia University, New York University, Princeton University,
Swarthmore College, and the University of Minnesota. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
has given additional funds to continue development.
RedLightGreen has recently been updated to include 1.5 million more records
and has received interface and layout changes. With a new "My List" feature,
students can now create a citation list and return to it in future sessions.
RLG wants the RedLightGreen site to serve as a gateway to local library holdings
and encourage more students to discover and use what's available at their library.
Additional background on the project is available at http://www.rlg.org/redlightgreen/index.html.
Categorization from Xerox
Scientists at Xerox Corp. say they have invented software that's clever enough
to "read" an electronic document, decide how it should be classified by subject,
then route it to the right person's e-mail address or online document management
systemall automatically. The categorizing software is intended to help
businesses keep e-document collections orderly and accessible.
The categorizing tools that are currently available in the market treat each
subject category independently of each other, but the Xerox system uses a hierarchical
model that's able to understand the dependency between categories. The Xerox
categorizer system, which uses linguistic analysis and machine-learning technologies,
can handle documents written in up to 20 languages and can be adapted for specific
The software, which is available for licensing from Xerox, is written in
Java and can be deployed on multiple platforms, including UNIX, Linux, and
Windows. According to the announcement (http://www.xerox.com/innovation/categorize.shtml),
the company anticipates the technology to be licensed by software vendors or
companies that wish to incorporate it into document systems focused on areas
such as customer relationship management, information retrieval, and data management.
The Content Industry $$
Outsell, Inc., the research firm that focuses on the information content
(IC) industry, has released a report that it says challenges what it calls
the "big lie": no one is willing to pay for content, and the total online paid
content market is $1.5 billion. The company says that the 30-page report (for
sale at http://www.outsellinc.com) contains "detailed and actionable data and
predictions" about the $50 billion online paid content market and profiles
of the business models employed by more than 100 content sellers. The following
are some highlights from "Content Vendor Best Practices: Busting Up Fee vs.
Free," by Outsell analyst Chuck Richard.
The total information content market tracked by Outsell (excluding
entertainment) is $183 billion.
The online-user-paid portion of the IC market is more than
The online-user-paid content revenue of just three companiesThomson,
Reed Elsevier, and Wolters Kluwerwas $7 billion in 2002.
While it looks like the IC industry is alive and well, the budgets of library
customers have yet to show a significant rebound from the cutbacks of the last
several years. So go easy with those price increases, IC folks.
STM Inquiries, Initiatives
Speaking of Reed Elsevier and its competitors, an inquiry is underway that
will look into the pricing practices of commercial STM publishers and discuss
open access publishing models. At the U.K. Parliament's Science and Technology
Select Committee hearings in March, the publishers testified and key organizations
(such as IFLA and The Royal Society) submitted formal statements on these issues.
(See Richard Poynder's column on page 1 and watch for ongoing coverage.) Meanwhile,
STM companies were busily rolling out new products and services.
Elsevier announced the first fully functioning version of Scopus, its highly
anticipated, full-text linking, A&I database that was initially tested
by 20 academic libraries. (For details, see the NewsBreak at http://www.infotoday.com/newsbreaks/nb040315-1.shtml.)
The company is now providing access to another 30 academic libraries for final
testing and user trials and expects to have the commercial release available
by the fourth quarter of this year.
Scopus is designed to be an all-science, comprehensive access point for libraries.
It delivers coverage of 13,000 titles from more than 4,000 STM publishers and
plans to cover more than 100 open access journals by the summer. Scopus also
simultaneously searches the scientific Web using Scirus, Elsevier's science-only
In a rival development on the citation-linking front, Thomson ISI announced
that it will collaborate with NEC to create a comprehensive, multidisciplinary
citation index for Web-based scholarly resources. The new Web Citation Index,
due out in early 2005 following pilot testing this year, will also include
citations and links to open access resources. (For more information, see Barbara
Quint's NewsBreak at
Finally, if you're interested in checking out the background of some of these
companies, tracking the history of their acquisitions, and learning about the
imprints they own, there's an important report you should look into. "The Academic
Publishing Industry: A Story of Merger and Acquisition," by Mary H. Munroe
(http://www.niulib.niu.edu/publishers), was prepared for the Association of
Research Libraries and the Information Access Alliance, a group of associations
that's concerned about mergers and acquisitions in scholarly publishing. Munroe
provides an interesting timeline for each company.
Ongoing Identity Issues
If you thought the issue of a name/identity was settled by a Special Libraries
Association (SLA) membership vote last year, you were mistaken. There's more
than one way to effect a name change. The board of directors recently decided
that the Special Libraries Association would operate publicly using its acronym
in place of its "extended name"the name that its members voted to keepwhile
it would continue to operate legally and financially as "Special Libraries
Association." According to a press release, the change to "doing business as" SLA
occurred after SLA president-elect Ethel Salonen raised the subject during
a strategy session.
In a letter to SLA members, current president Cindy Hill said, "Adopting
this model lowers barriers and simplifies our ability to position the association
to new and diverse market segments, building on our recent steps to make SLA
more attractive to international audiences." She also noted that the change "does
not preclude a legal name change in the future." The association's logo has
already been changed, and there's a new tagline: "Connecting People and Information."
For the latest industry news, check http://www.infotoday.com every Monday
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NewsLink, which provides abstracts and links to the stories we post.
Paula J. Hane is Information Today, Inc.'s news bureau chief
and editor of NewsBreaks. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.