IL2007: Federated Search trends

What’s new in Federated Search

• It’s getting used, in predictable ways as the academic year goes forward. Life is good, and goes on.
• But: The world is shrinking. “InnovativeExSirsiWebSerialsLibrisDynixFeetSolutions” Lo, the conglomeration. “Removing confusion by eliminating options.”
• Heh. Introducing “SearchThingy”.
• “…consolidation. SirsiDynix… is Steven Abram in the room? No? Good.” Serials solutions, Primo, Central Search, Single Search, Research Pro, MuseGlobal, WEbFeat, Encore, Aquabrowser, Grokker, Vivisimo… so reflexive, so confusing. So many, so much the same, so duplicative. Is it any wonder that we can’t have a coherent or consistent conversation about Federated Searching options? “Very complex and convoluted market in which it’s hard to know what you’re buying.”

• Federated search: Silo bustin’! one module of a larger effort to integrate all content into a single discovery tool.

• Open source strategies: look much like the other federated search products, often with better interfaces as they’ve learned from the flaws of the commercial products. Also with most of the features of the commercial products, again due to ability to post-develop.
o LibraryFind (Oregon State)
o IndexData (Library of Texas)
o And others! Changing daily.

• New commercial developments:
o Encore from Innovative. (Michigan) One search box, like Google, on search results page lots of options – graphics from Syndetics, “refine by” using phrase tag clouds, clustered results lists. Very clean display, plus some mapping technology for search terms to facilitate better success for blurry searches.
o Primo from Ex Libris. (University of Iowa) Single search box, again. “Refine my results”, “Save my search” as RSS feed, decently clean results, tags and labels, multiple search result clustering options.

• Looking outside libraries
o “Sort of like something out of Deuteronomy” And thus Inktomi begat Ultraseek who begat Verity who begat Autonomy who begat…
o Automatic taxonomy generation
o Going beyond search – Siderean illuminates previously unseen relationships as we change the way we describe things. Ex: Computer science was once in math, and now is it’s own thing, and those connections are hard to find if you don’t know to look for them. Software that will look for them on its own. (The way we describe race, wars, marginalized peoples… all could be more successfully mined with some computerized help to connect our old and new vocabularies)
o Using “citation-like” content to try to connect you to the item you’re looking at elsewhere.
o Works well in Google Scholar, etc.
o Firefox extension that allows you to use your affiliated OpenURL resolver from anywhere at any time, because your browser knows who you are and what your toolset is.

• Trends:
o Vendors shrinking, open source options increasing
o Progress on standards, yay
o Resources (ie, vendor-provided resources) migrating to XML information feeds, leading to better control of search parameters.
o Still using z39.50 very prevalently
o More holistic approach to content – yet more federated.
o More affordable turnkey solutions (Sez who?! “when we say ‘affordable’, we can’t give you price options”… right.)
o Data pre-processing options improves overall function
o Increased use of visualization and clustering
o Greater possibilities for off-site hosting

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