News About SLA, ProQuest, Search Technologies,
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
First, my new tri-band cell phoneon a national digital GSM network
with no roaming chargesdidn'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
- 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,
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
- 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
- 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.
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
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.
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 desktopautomatically, accurately, and
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 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.
Paula J. Hane is Information Today, Inc.'s news bureau chief
and editor of NewsBreaks. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.