|Vendors displayed a combination of publisher tools and content sources
at InfoToday 2002. There was a strong representation from companies with
automated categorization applications. Products offering visualization
software drew admiring audiences. Conspicuously absent were LexisNexis
and Factiva, two of the traditional online database vendors. Also notable
in their absence were vendors of competitive intelligence software. There
was also a weak representation of library automation vendors.
Who Was There?
The content majors were there, including Dialog, Wilson, ProQuest, Thomson,
EBSCO, OCLC, Swets Blackwell, and SIRS Mandarin. Most used their exhibit
space to connect with established customers and used their time to "meet
the people we need to see," rather than make major announcements. Wilson
announced a new WilsonWeb design for its Web-search browser that allows
students to search multiple databases (http://www.wilson.com).
An added feature of the new product is an increased ability of library
administrators to track user statistics.
The New York Times had a separate booth. In addition, its content
was represented by its relationships with the traditional online research
vendors. "We're here to check the B2B market for our content," said John
Schwartz. "We wanted to learn more about reactions to the expanding partnership
for our content and get a sense of the market."
Since many people also attend other library events, some made a point
of noting an overlap of vendors at library and information conferences.
Almost 50 percent of the InfoToday 2002 vendors were also at the Internet
Librarian conference last fall. With the SLA and ALA conferences in June,
and other library meetings on the horizon, conference planners need to
look for ways to distinguish conference-hall exhibits. Overall, the library
and information industry needs to attract new content, software, and service
Exhibit Hall Lectures
Three days of short—and free—lectures drew consistently packed audiences
to the exhibit hall. There was frequently a crowd at the entrance of the
50-seat presentation area and an appreciative and attentive audience inside.
Those vendors that lined the path to the area had a steady stream of people
who were attracted to the free lectures.
Over 20 presentations covered practical information and advice on best
practices in content management and organization, Web design, online trends,
mapping information, library automation, and licensing. Lecturers pointed
out the best Web sites for news, business, information professional literature,
and new developments. "Lectures were tactical; they delivered concrete
learning and could be put into action," said Nancy Kho of Global Reports.
For publishers, vendors offered categorization tools of increasing sophistication.
Classification and metadata-tagging software seemed to be clustered along
two aisles with the word "semantic" used to describe the technology. The
show aisles attracted a constant flow of people who showed enthusiasm for
the software and who demonstrated an appreciation of the features and functionality
differences between the products.
is a powerful tool for clustering intelligence for the rapid delivery and
analysis of data. There is both increased need and national interest in
software technologies that can handle huge, unstructured data sources.
Vivísimo demonstrated its speed and hierarchical agility in handling
and displaying unstructured data on the fly.
Engenium's Semetric Technology works with major news and defense databases
One of its first products is its HireReasoning software, which was recently
awarded product of the year by Human Resource Executive magazine.
For those who think of Inxight (http://www.inxight.com)
as visualization software, take a look at its Inxight Categorizer. The
product has a strong natural language processing system that automatically
classifies documents by subjects.
Other products attracting attention were ClearForest (http://www.clearforest.com)
and epixtech (http://www.epixtech.com).
Need to know who knows what within your organization? Take a look at
the elegant solutions offered by Tacit (http://www.tacit.com)
or the KnowledgeLead software by Cadenza (http://www.knowledgelead.com).
The companies produce software technologies to extract and deliver intelligence
by identifying expertise within organizations from multiple e-mails, as
well as document and content management text formats. Communities of interest
and practice have been hot topics in KM circles. Having this type of software
makes creating, connecting, and organizing communities of interest doable
projects for corporations and large organizations.
Products for Publishers
gives publishers a choice. They can use the TurboCat products to fully
automate the categorization of documents or retain full or partial control
and review of individual categorization assignments. Check out the TurboCat
FLASH video for a clear explanation of categorization technology along
with a sense of humor.
Other specialized products of interest to producers and managers of
document sources are WizSoft (http://www.wizsoft.com),
which connects search technology, data mining, and analysis technology;
and Blue Angel Technologies' MetaStar product, which allows users to bring
together diverse collections of documents from disparate locations (http://blueangeltech.com).
People think graphically. The increasing number and variety of visualization
software tools now gives users a new way to "see" and act on large quantities
of diverse information sources. Antarcti.ca (http://www.antarcti.ca)
creates easily recognizable shapes, including those that resemble linked
islands of knowledge, architectural formats, and even double-helix organic
forms. The Plumb Design Thinkmap platform (http://www.thinkmap.com)
transforms static data into "engaging, animated displays that encourage
interaction." Visit the Experience Music Project (of Seattle) to see a
Thinkmap in action (http://www.emplive.com/digitalcollection).
Is Less More?
There were significantly fewer vendors and exhibitors this year. Several
vendors commented that this wasn't entirely a negative factor. "With the
demise of the dot-coms, there are fewer people pitching to us," said Jeff
Riedel of ProQuest. "We are largely here to value our clients."
During the dot-com boom, there were floors of exhibitors with spacious
double-wide booths, large display islands, and splashy eye-catching signage.
Visitors needed several shopping bags to take home all of the tchotchkes,
gimmicks, notepads, stick-ums, and freebies. This year, the exhibit hall
was in a highly concentrated space with narrow aisles, smaller booths,
few large display islands, and a paucity of giveaways. Is this a bad thing?
No, not really.
Attendees want to know what's hot. Who are the new vendors? Who has
a great new product? Getting a freebie pad of stick-ums isn't going to
make or break an attendee's interest in products, desire to make contact
with vendor representatives, or need to just view the information industry
landscape. One vendor commented that in the past, they were run off their
feet with "visitors" and ran out of giveaways on the first day. 2002 attendees
are the qualified, known customers vendors want to touch base with and
the type of new contacts they want to make.
Gail Dykstra is a consultant in content business development and
digital rights management. Her e-mail address is email@example.com.